It doesn’t take much to notice how dry the air gets in the winter. Even people who are completely out of touch with nature or their own bodies can’t miss that tight feeling after washing their face, flakes of skin that appear after toweling off from a shower, or heels that are super dry and cracked!
In the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which states that everything in life is composed of three principles of nature, or “doshas,” vata dosha is the one that can be typically pushed out of balance in late fall and winter. Vata is comprised of space and air — characterized by dryness, coolness, lightness, and movement.
No wonder our skin takes such a toll this time of year. To help keep vata balanced, it’s recommended in Ayurvedic medicine to pay special attention to our skin by nourishing it with what the dry, cool air tends to remove.
Be Gentle With Your Face
The face is usually the one part of the body that gets exposed most to the winter air, and it may be one of the driest, most sensitive parts of the whole body. During this time of year, ditch the harsh exfoliators and cleansers in favor of natural oils like sesame oil, castor oil, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Oil cleansing is a popular, natural alternative to harsher facial cleansing that can help remove makeup and dirt while simultaneously balancing the natural oils of your skin. All you need to do is massage a small amount into dry skin first using gentle, circular motions for about a 1 to 3 minutes. Soak a clean washcloth in hot water, ring it out, apply it your face until it cools, and then gently wipe away excess oil with the cloth.
Don’t Lather Up — Moisturize!
Hot showers and harsh indoor heating can have a drying effect on the skin apart from the winter weather, so a daily moisturizing regimen can help restore the skin all over your body to a healthy, glowing, balanced state. A well-known Ayurvedic recommendation during vata season is to massage the skin with sesame oil before showering or bathing.
When you do shower or bathe, make sure that the water is warm — not hot — to avoid over drying. You don’t necessarily need to lather up with soap all over your body every single day unless it’s to remove visible dirt, and even then, it’s always best to go with a natural, mild soap as opposed to harsher varieties that strip the natural oils away.
Pamper Your Feet
During the winter months, our feet typically spend more time packed tight in thick socks and heavy footwear designed to keep them dry and protected form the elements. That doesn’t keep them from becoming extra dry and cracked, unfortunately.
Soak your feet in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes with Epsom salts added to help soothe any aches or pains, and add your favorite essential oil if you’d like. Lavender, peppermint, or tea tree are all great choices.
Once soaked, scrub and smooth out dry skin with a pumice stone before drying them off with a towel and immediately moisturizing them with a natural oil like sesame or olive. You can put thick socks on made of breathable material to help the moisturizing process.