Winter Skin Woes and How to Overcome Them

'Tis the season for dry skin, chapped lips, itching and skin inflammations.

Winter brings with it low temperatures, freezing rain and snow, a significant drop in humidity and dry cold winds in most parts of the country. Our skin, the organ that acts as a barrier between our bodies and the external environment, generally takes the brunt of the punishing weather.

The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians sees winter as both a challenge and an opportunity. It's true that winter weather can impact skin adversely. So it pays to follow a good basic skin care regimen to replenish moisture levels and protect against winter sun damage. But winter, according to ayurveda, is the ideal time to feed your skin the potent nutrients it needs to stay youthful and healthy. Beauty begins with common sense. It can be as simple as eating right, getting your beauty sleep, managing stress and following a simple, natural skin care regimen.

Moisture replenishment is crucial

Humidity drops in winter, and the skin's natural moisture levels drop as well.

As a result, the outer layers of the skin tend to dry out more during fall and winter, leading to dry skin, with scales, inflammation and itching being associated problems for some people. The problem is exacerbated because of heating, fires in fireplaces and exposure to rapid fluctuations in temperatures as one moves from indoors to outdoors or vice versa.

Keep the thermostat as low as you can handle comfortably to reduce dehydration from heating. Use humidifiers to restore moisture balance to your environment. Hot water may feel tempting in cold weather, but it can damage your skin. Bathe in pleasantly warm water, not hot, and keep to one bath or shower a day in winter. Use cleansers that will not deplete moisture from already dry skin — the Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel is especially formulated to cleanse gently without stripping moisture and oils from your skin.

Use moisturizers right after you cleanse or bathe in the morning — the Youthful Skin Oil is perfect for delivering deep-layer lipid support. Moisturizers are best applied on barely-moist skin. The ayurvedic herbs, rich oils, and antioxidants in this formulation combat free radical damage and offer sustained nourishment to your skin, leaving it less vulnerable to the ravages of winter weather.

All moisturizers are not made equal

What you put on your skin is absorbed by your skin. If you use heavily-synthetic, chemical-laden products on delicate skin, be prepared for long-term damage. This doesn't mean you have to do without moisturizers or other skin care products. Look for natural products, and read those ingredients with a magnifying glass. Many products that claim to be herbal or botanical can contain artificial ingredients. The Youthful Skin line, for example, is not only natural, but it is nurturing for the skin because of the care that has gone into the formulation and processing.

Protect your skin

Winter winds can be very harsh and drying on some types of skin. Choose natural fibers such as wool or silk for protection — natural fabrics allow the skin to breathe better. If your skin tends to chafe with wool, try thick cotton. Always dress in layers, so you can add or remove layers for comfort. Bundling up too much can cause moisture loss through sweat. Sun protection is just as important in winter as it is in summer — wear a wide-brimmed hat and avoid exposure to the hot sun as much as possible. Remember your sun protection on that skiing holiday — the sun at high altitudes is even more damaging, especially when it reflects off snow.

Feed your skin

Winter skin is very receptive to deep nourishment. This is the season to pamper your skin with rich nourishment routines, morning and evening. The ayurvedic herb Gotu Kola, for example, is a collagen enhancer and can help your skin look and feel younger. Make sure you use an herbal product that is balanced. The Youthful Skin Cream, with its synergistic and balanced combination of skin-friendly herbs, offers sustained, deep-layer nourishment to your skin.

Nutrition from within

Diet is important. Include lots of leafy green vegetables in your diet. Eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Drink lots of warm water through the day. Don't skip meals. Eat pure, fresh foods — stay away from canned or processed foods that contain additives and chemical preservatives. Cook with spices — they're not only great flavor enhancers, but they can also help you stay healthy and beautiful. Cumin, for example, helps flush your body of toxins, and this, in turn, can mean a glowing, radiant complexion.

Follow a skin-friendly lifestyle

Get your beauty sleep. People tend to shortchange themselves on sleep during the holidays. Lack of sleep does not just put dark circles under your eyes and rob the luster from your skin. Sleep deprivation has been linked in recent research to long-term health problems, including obesity. Manage your time, plan ahead, get family members to share holiday tasks. A soothing cup of Slumber Time Tea, a warm bath scented with bath salts, or a settling aroma such as Slumber Time Aroma Oil diffusing in your bedroom can all help you get those zzzs.

With a little attention to your diet and lifestyle, and some tender loving care each morning and night, your skin can look — and feel — beautiful all through the winter.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.