Category Archives: Skin

How Not to Look Like a Raisin all Winter

I can’t tell you the number of friends that have asked me recently how to prevent their skin from getting dry and shriveled during the winter. Since “winter is coming”, skin care is on our minds, especially those of us in our 40’s and 50’s who really notice the cold weather effects. Here are our best recommendations for youthful, glowing skin all winter.

  • Abhyanga – daily self massage with high quality oil. See our separate blog post about it here. This is one of Ayurveda’s top anti aging practices!
  • Stay hydrated. Although obvious, this is easier said than done. The cold temps can make us averse to drinking enough water (even room temperature), and we need to overcome that if we want hydrated skin through the colder months. Let’s make ultra hydration a goal this winter! Every morning, drink one or two glasses of room temperature water (bonus with fresh squeezed lemon!). Then, for the remainder of the day, have a mouthful of plain water every half hour. This makes a huge difference on your skin, energy, digestion, immunity, and clarity of mind.
  • Avoid beverages and foods that dry your skin and mucous membranes out. Tannins found in wine and black tea (and to a lesser extent green tea and coffee) in particular are very drying. As the days get colder, we crave more warming drinks. Instead of black tea, opt for herbal teas like rooibos, ginger, and Throat Coat. (Remember that tea doesn’t count for hydration!) Drying foods like tortilla and potato chips, crackers, etc are highly processed,  contain no moisture, and drain your body’s water reserves during digestion.
  • Focus on hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables, as well as foods with fat and protein. Be generous with your healthy oils, nuts, and seeds this time of year. Ground flaxseed and chia seed contain omega 3 fatty acids and are mucilaginous, both a boon to your skin. The fatty acids in the oils will make their way to your skin cells, keeping them nice and supple. Toss them in smoothies and on salads and try this delicious chia pudding!
  • Okay… don’t kill the messenger, but we should mention that alcoholic beverages are also very drying. If you are out on the town, stick to the rule of having a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. You’ll thank yourself when you look in the mirror late in the evening and also in the morning when you wake up refreshed!
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom. The indoor and outdoor air is very dry over the winter months. If you humidify your room at night, your skin will be exposed to a humid environment approximately a third of your day. It really helps!
  • On cold days, everything in you may want to soak in a steaming hot tub or stand under a hot shower for a long time. Unfortunately hot water dries your skin out (in a particularly cruel twist of fate). Using the coolest shower water you can tolerate will help a lot. I find I can do this best when I shower right after a workout when my body is still warm. There will be days when your desire to warm up exceeds your desire for younger skin, and that’s okay. It’s what we do regularly that makes the biggest difference.

No one should have to feel old, dry, and shriveled all winter long. We hope that these suggestions serve you well in the coming months. Let us know how they work for you by commenting below!

Image credit: Cosmetic Northern

 

The Many Benefits of Daily Body Oiling

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic practice that involves massaging good quality oil into your skin every day. It’s the perfect remedy for the cold, dry, winter air! Most obviously, daily oiling helps your skin retain its hydration and luster. When you oil your skin in the morning, you feel warm and cozy all day, as if you were wearing silk long underwear. Oiling your feet at night helps you to get more restorative sleep. The physical action of massaging oil into your skin and joints helps to relieve stiffness and improves circulation, giving your whole body a nice glow and boosting energy and overall health. Since there is so little circulation in the joints, they can really benefit from the extra attention. You can even put a little oil in your nostrils to help keep the sinuses moist, which helps you to avoid colds and sinus infections.

The benefits of abhyanga don’t end with the physical. According to Ayurveda, the cold winter air can also impact the mind, causing us to feel jittery, scattered, and exhausted. Regular application of oil infuses your body-mind with a grounding energy that soothes any winter-induced anxiety or forgetfulness. All of these symptoms (cold, dry, stiff, anxious, scattered, tired) that we can relieve with abhyanga are often associated with aging. This is why abhyanga is considered one of Ayurveda’s top anti-aging strategies!

How to oil

  1. Since your skin absorbs whatever you put on it, use the highest quality oil you can find – organic, cold-pressed, and in a glass bottle when possible. Jojoba, sesame, and coconut are great choices. Most of these are available at the grocery store. However, you can also purchase wonderful oils infused with herbs or essential oils (we especially love Sarada’s Woman Power oil!). Natural, cold-pressed oils contain fatty acids, vitamin E, and other antioxidants that promote healthy skin. Sure, lotions often add vitamin E, but not the whole vitamin E complex, like natural oils have.
  2. Before your shower, rub the oil into your skin, using long strokes on the long bones, and circular motions around the joints. Be sure to pay attention to your toes and feet, fingers, and neck too. Enjoy it!
  3. You don’t need to use a lot of oil.
  4. If you like, you can rub some into your scalp. This helps keep your hair healthy and conditioned. (When doing the hair, it’s great to let it soak in for 10-15 minutes if possible.)
  5. Using your pinky finger, you can apply a bit of oil to your nostrils as well. “Nasya” oil was created for this purpose, and is usually infused with sinus opening herbs like eucalyptus. But of course regular oil also works well.
  6. When you shower, the warm water will help the oil to sink in. Be sure you don’t use soap on the arms and legs. You may need to shampoo twice if used a lot of oil in your hair. Blot your skin dry after the shower.
  7. An alternative option is to apply the oil after your shower. Just use less oil, and give it a few minutes to sink in before getting dressed.
  8. When you’re cooking, rub extra olive, sesame, or coconut oil into your hands!
  9. Ayurveda is pretty obsessed with oiling. They even put drops in eyes, ears, other places :-0 and swish with oil like mouthwash. It’s really good for dental health. Swishing with coconut oil actually whitens your teeth while improving dental health! If you decide to try this, swish for about 10 minutes as you do your morning routine, and spit the oil out in the trash, not the sink (because it can clog the sink over time).

Image credit: Lisa Mair