Beautiful glowing skin is desirable by all. But, with age, our skin tends to become dry and irritated during certain seasons. A clear and glowing complexion is indeed, a sign of good health. Dry skin can cause early wrinkles and can lead to an aged appearance. Moreover, dry cracked skin can be the breeding place for microbes and can cause fungal infections and lead to dry eczema.
According to Ayurveda, accumulation of vata in the body can lead to dry skin. For people over the age of 50, excess vata in the body can lead to dry skin, thinning and dryness of hair, brittle nails and cracking joints. Apart from this, dry skin condition may be due to genetic factors, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to extreme weather conditions, due to blockage of oil glands or sometimes due to medication.
To increase the moisture level of the skin and prevent it from dryness, the skin needs to be cared for. Ayurveda has various herbal and lifestyle remedies that can help you in managing dry skin condition, without having to invest a fortune in various treatments.
Ayurvedic self-care practices and home remedies
- One of the ancient, but most important self-care practices in Ayurveda is to adopt ‘Abhyanga’ when you have dry skin. ‘Abhyanga’ simply means, daily self-massage of the body with oil. Some of the oils that are excellent for massage are coconut oil, almond oil, sesame or castor oil. Ideally, you can warm up your oil and massage into your skin, leave it on for minimum half-an-hour before you shower. You can also massage your body with herbal oil that is infused with vata balancing herbs, twice a week.
- Use herbs and foods that are nourishing to the skin, including aloe vera juice or gel, chamomile, licorice, and calendula. For instance, aloe vera gel has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and cooling properties, and can combat the skin problems that come from excessively dry skin, like itching and rashes, as it provides considerable relief.
- Sandalwood or ‘chandan’ (particularly ‘red sandalwood’ or ‘rakta chandanam’) is known for its cooling properties. It prevents inflammation and reduces acne, pimples and other rashes on the skin. It soothes your skin after being exposed to the sun. Make a paste of sandalwood powder with rosewater and apply it on your skin. Leave it on until dry and wash off. Your skin will remain hydrated and cleansed.
Lifestyle tips for dry skin from Ayurveda:
- Follow the rule ‘shower less and oil more’ during winter. Avoid using hot water for bathing. Also, avoid using harsh soaps that can strip your skin of its natural oils. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil before finishing the bath and pat dry the skin.
- Massage your body with herbal oil regularly, as herbal oil softens and soothes dry skin, and traps moisture.
- Ensure that you have a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, milk, whole grains, and nuts. Avoid junk food and deep fried food. Stick to vegetables and fruits with high water content such as cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, raddish etc.
- Including seeds and nuts into your diet will help improve your skin condition. This is because they contain Omega-3, healthy fats, and fibre. You can try including sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds and other nuts in your oatmeal.
- Include at least one tablespoon of pure ghee in your daily diet. This lubricates your skin naturally. Ghee also heals chapped lips very quickly.
- Exercise daily. It is necessary to prevent cold vata from accumulating, and also keep your joints and muscles toned and healthy, while also expelling toxins. Exercise also improves blood circulation, giving you a healthy blush.
- Practice pranayama and meditation, as these help in keeping stress at bay, which is also an important cause for dry skin. They also help in sleeping better.
- Apricot oil can be applied twice or thrice a week, particularly at night, as it keeps skin healthy and smooth. For best absorption do oil massage at night, as it stimulates healthy blood circulation promotes lymph drainage and reduces water retention.
- Ensure that you sleep for a minimum of seven hours at night.
- Avoid extreme weather conditions.
- Last, but most important, keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking sufficient quantity of water throughout the day (preferably warm water). Also, ensure that you have warm water with lemon every day in the morning on empty stomach.