Summer, Sun and Your Skin Care
Soaking up the sun’s rays used to be considered a safe summer pastime. My friends would slather suntan oil over their bodies and relax in the sun for hours. Somehow I never got the hang of it, though — I felt hot and irritated, and no matter how hard I tried to get a tan, I’d usually last only five minutes before running under the nearest tree to cool off. Other times, I’d get caught with a sunburn. Natural skin care is essential.
Now we know that too much sun damages your skin. Excessive sun exposure can result in those unsightly brown spots, burns, sensitive skin, and even skin cancer. The ultraviolet rays of the sun, which are stronger due to a thinning ozone layer in recent decades, generate free radicals that accelerate wrinkling, drying and aging of the skin as well.
How Pitta Dosha Affects Your Skin in Summer
From the ayurvedic perspective, the body is made of five different elements. Fire, called tejas, has the qualities of transformation, burning, reflecting, shining, and sharpness. The fire element is found in mind-body operator Pitta dosha, which governs the metabolic functions of the body and is characterized by heat and sharpness. In particular, the fire element is found in the subdosha Bhrajaka Pitta, which governs the enzymatic changes of the skin.
People with Pitta dosha predominant in their body type — i.e. those with a warm complexion or fair hair — are especially susceptible to sun exposure (which is why I could never spend hours in the sun like my dark-haired, olive-toned friends). Normally, there is a natural balance in the skin — the skin has natural means to moisturize and cool itself. If Bhrajaka Pitta gets overheated, though, the ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrate the skin, causing the overheated skin to destroy its own moisturizing functions. When this happens, such highly photosensitive people get sunburned even with a few minutes’ exposure to the sun. If this happens on a daily basis, it can cause early aging, because there isn’t enough moisture to prevent wrinkles and age spots from forming.
Natural Skin Care for Summer
No matter what your skin type, the summer season’s extra heat and sun can increase Pitta dosha and affect your skin.
To prevent summer skin damage, you’ll want to avoid foods or behaviors that increase Pitta dosha. Eating red chili peppers, vinegar, or sour foods will heat your body. Consuming leftovers, alcohol, genetically modified foods, or foods with lots of preservatives will also aggravate Pitta dosha. Avoid pungent, sour, or salty foods and favor the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes. This will have a cooling effect on your body and mind. Flavoring your foods with Organic Pitta Churna will have a balancing effect in summer.
Diffusing Pitta Aroma Oil or Blissful Heart Aroma Oil as you sleep, taking Blissful Joy tablets after lunch and dinner, and adding a teaspoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread to water or milk (see recipes, this issue) can all help in keeping your skin cool in summer.
Drink plenty of pure water and Organic Pitta Tea, and eat more squashes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Stay away from strong, chemical-laden, artificial skin creams, lotions, soaps, or shampoos, as these directly aggravate Bhrajaka Pitta and increase your sensitivity to sun damage.
Cool Your Emotions to Cool Your Skin
Heated emotions can also heat the skin. This is because different subdoshas of Pitta govern the emotions and the skin, so they are closely linked. Watching violent movies, living with people who are angry, or feeling too much anger yourself can heat the emotions, and through them, your skin. You can see the connection between heated emotions and heated skin, because when people get angry, their faces turn red.
There is also a connection between the eyes and the skin, because both are governed by Pitta dosha. Wear sunglasses and a sun hat to protect your skin and eyes. When the eyes get overheated, that heats the emotions, and the heat reflects back to the skin.
In the evening, splash your eyes with cool water. Apply a little Organic Rose Water to a cotton pad, and then lie down with your eyes closed and the pad over your eyes for five minutes. Do this daily for a refreshing effect on your eyes, and consequently a cooling effect on your emotions and skin. You’ll feel the emotional stress subsiding.
Prevent Heat Build-Up
In summer, you can massage your skin with coconut oil, which is a traditional youth-promoting face cream. Or try Soothing Herbal Massage Oil, as it has sesame oil as its base and contains cooling herbs. Using the Rose Herbal Soap in the bath or shower also cools and soothes the skin.
If your face and hands get mildly sunburned, try applying the juice from an aloe vera plant to your skin, as it’s considered the best natural means for dealing with sunburn. The Youthful Skin Herbal Soap and Youthful Skin Cream will help cool and rejuvenate your skin, as they both contain Pitta-pacifying agents. Youthful Skin Cream is a botanical collagen-supporting face cream and also helpful for sun-damaged skin, because it pacifies Pitta dosha in the blood and the skin, and also supports the moisturizing function, so that heat cannot burn and dry out the skin. It is not a sunscreen, but it protects the skin from the inside.
And of course, wear sunscreen. By cooling your skin inside and out, you can enjoy the summer sun without damage.
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.