In the cold months, skin tends to turn dry, cracked and scaly. Ayurvedic experts attribute this chiefly to a Vata dosha imbalance. To coax the dosha back into balance, healers recommend foods and practices that encourage lubrication and hydration.
Wake up your skin to cold water: This is a routine I have seen my great-grandparents follow, regardless of how cold the weather. Upon waking up, fill your mouth with cold water and splash your eyes with more water seven times. Swirl the water inside your mouth before releasing it out. This releases the “heat” energy of the night, wakes up the pores and leaves you looking and feeling radiant. The reason for seven splashes: each one corresponds with one of the seven chakras identified in Ayurveda.
Eat 10 almonds in the morning: Dry, scaly winter skin indicates an out-of-balance Vata dosha. Almonds contain oils that lubricate the skin and nourish the microcirculatory channels of the body, helping Vata return to balance. The Ayurvedic recommendation is to soak almonds overnight in clean water, then skin them in the morning before eating them. This makes the almonds easier to digest. Ten almonds is a moderate number, ideal for balancing Vata without upsetting the volatile Pitta dosha.
Treat yourself to daily self-massage: The practice of giving yourself a daily massage is an essential one in the ayurvedic healing system. Using a good quality organic cold pressed oil, gently knead and rub skin from toe to top. Picture the accumulated toxins of the previous day being dislodged and flushed out as you go along. Digestion and energy levels improve and skin acquires a lovely glow. It feels wonderfully relaxing, too. If I had to pick my favorite tip from this selection, it would be self-massage!
Avoid fruits that aggravate dryness: Fruits that are light and “dry” in nature, such as apples, pears and pomegranate, tend to increase Vata, and are best eaten in summer. For winter, sweet, heavy fruits including grapes, oranges and pineapple are best suited for lubricating skin.
Let Your Kitchen Be Your Beauty Pharmacy: The Ayurvedic advice on skin care products is quite simple: “Don’t apply anything to your face that you would also not be able to eat.” The reason—your skin absorbs the ingredients you apply, and these mix with the bloodstream to affect the workings of your inner systems. That’s why the kitchen plays the role of beauty pharmacy, too. Organic honey, turmeric, fresh yogurt, fruits, nuts and grains contain key nutrients that keep the skin looking youthful, without any side effects. I have dry skin, so the following face mask rejuvenates it in a matter of minutes:
1 tablespoon organic honey
1 tablespoon fresh homemade yogurt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
Mix all of these together over face and neck, massaging gently as you go along. After about 20 minutes, rinse the mask off with warm water.
To convert this mask into a refreshing scrub, you can add 1 teaspoon of powdered red lentils or almonds to the honey-yogurt paste.