CAP BEAUTY'S Secrets for Cold Weather Skin-Care
According to Ayurveda, India's 5,000+ year old medical system, each of us is composed of a unique combination of the five elements. These elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether, respectively) are basically the building blocks of every thing in the universe, including us. Once we can recognize the qualities of each element and learn to identify them in not only our own bodies but in the food we eat, the activities we engage in, and in our environment, we can begin to make shifts towards optimum health. If we have too much of one element present in our body, we want to choose the other elements in our food and activities to create balance in our lives. The same is also true when it comes to the skin. If we are struggling with a consistent skincare issue, we want to identify the element responsible for the symptom, and treat it with opposing elements.
Here's where it gets a little more complicated. In Ayurveda, the concept of the five elements becomes refined and re-categorized into three energies, or doshas. The doshas are the main vehicles for the five elements and are referred to by their Sanskrit names. So, earth and water become Kapha, fire (and a tiny bit of water) become Pitta, and air and ether become Vata. We can recognize the qualities of Kapha by describing earth and water: wet, cold, stable, gross, and heavy. Pitta is hot, sharp, oily, and penetrating, while Vata is cold, dry, light, and mobile.
So, what does this have to do with your skin? Take a moment to analyze your skin; how would you describe it? Is your skin thick and oily? Then you've probably got some Kapha present. Red and sensitive? That's Pitta. Is your skin delicate and dry? That's a good indicator that you've got a good amount of Vata present. Now that you have an idea of what elements may be present in your body and are manifesting in your skin, let's consider how to balance it.
Ayurveda encourages skin and body balancing through the art of oil application or abyhanaga. The skin creates its own oil (sebum) which serves as a barrier layer on the body, however, through frequent bathing and scrubbing practices, we often remove too much of our own oils, leaving the skin susceptible to bacteria and dehydration. Abyhanaga is a beautiful way to not only replenish your body's first line of defense but to deeply nourish and heal your skin. The practice of self massage is also extremely beneficial to the nervous system and is a wonderful way to relax and practice self-love.
The best oils to choose for your self massage depend on what doshas you are trying to balance. If you are noticing some excess Kapha, choose a lightweight and slightly warming oil such as mustard seed oil or grape seed oil. Hot Pittas would benefit most from a cooling oil like coconut. And dry Vatas, who benefit most from daily oil massage, will love warming Sesame oil, although just about any type of oil will benefit a dry Vata.
Abyhanaga is a beautiful way to honor your body and bring some gentle healing into your own hands each day. Start by pouring a little of your dosha appropriate oil into your hands and starting at the ankles, move your way up your legs, massaging the nourishing oil in as you respect a mantra ("I am loved, I am nourished" is a nice one for this practice.) Use circular motions around your joints and long, back and forth motions along the length of your bones. When you get to your torso, massage your oil into the belly using a clockwise motion (this helps digestion). And don't forget your face and scalp!
Once you're all oiled up, start a warm shower and allow the steam to open your pores allowing the oil to penetrate deep into the layers of your skin. Rinse your body in the warm water but do not scrub the oil off. When you step out of your shower, pat your body dry and notice the improved quality of your skin. Now congratulate yourself! Not only have you supported your body's biggest organ, you've improved your immunity, soothed your nervous system, and taken a huge step towards balancing your doshas!
CAP BEAUTY'S WINTER SUGGESTIONS FOR EACH DOSHA:
- KAPHA will benefit from the therapeutic Dr. Singha Mustard Rub, as well as the invigorating lemongrass in the lightweight SW Basics Lemongrass Body Oil.
- PITTA will benefit from the soothing and cooling sunflower oil with sandalwood in the delicious Shiva Rose Nectar Body Oil.The combination of virgin coconut oil with comforting cardamom is also a lovely choice in the Earth tu Face Body Butter.
- VATA will benefit from the warmth of the sesame oil combined with the grounding aromas of sandalwood and palo santo in the Jiva Apoha Atman Body Oil. The delicious and comforting cacao and heavy blend of oils in May Lindstrom's The Good Stuff is perfect for Vata as well.