Do you have dry skin? Oily skin? Mixed skin or sensitive skin? If you pay attention to your skin, you will notice that it will respond differently based on the season, weather, your activities and your diet. The more you pay attention, the more you will also know what your skin needs.
Your skin is the largest organ in the body and it breathes. It removes waste from inside the body through sweat as a route of elimination. Your skin also absorbs what you put on it – creams, oils, lotions etc. So what you put on your skin should be clean to the extent you could eat it! Just take a look at your bathroom counter and see if you would eat any of your skin creams. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your personal care products.
According to Ayurveda, skin can be qualified by dosha type. The five elements in nature are also at work in your body: space, air, fire, water and earth. For example, if you have excess fire element, your skin may be triggered by hot weather or internal changes like too much spicy or fried food. Inflamed, red or breakout skin can be prevented by taking steps to keep your skin clean and cool.
Ayurvedic Skin Types
Although each person’s skin is unique, most people have a dominant skin type. Read below to see which skin sounds most like yours:
This skin type tends to be dry, rough, thin, cool and worse with dry, cold, windy weather. Vata skin is most affected in the winter. This skin type does best with nourishing oils such as sesame or almond oil, warm oil massage, thicker creams topically along with frequent hydration, and a diet rich in healthy oils.
Pitta skin type tends to be red, inflamed, oily and warm with sensitivity to the sun and hot summer weather. Treatments for pitta skin types include cooling oils or creams such as coconut or olive oil, pitta balancing diet and bitter herbs to clean the skin from the inside out.
Individuals with kapha skin tend to have naturally moist skin that can get cold, clammy or oily easily. This skin type is worse with humid weather. Treatments for kapha skin involve oils or creams that are very light and warming such as mustard or almond oil, herbal scrubs, dry skin brushing and toners that are astringent.
Treatments for Summer Skin Health
In the summer, heat and humidity can easily push your skin out of balance leading to common concerns such as: acne, hives, rashes, rosacea, sun spots, redness and sun-sensitive skin. In addition, a diet rich in spicy, oily food and acidic foods (such as excess red meat, alcohol, caffeine and sugar) can cause pitta imbalance in the digestive system to ‘overflow’ into your circulatory system and out through the skin as the body attempts to detox excess waste. Spending too much time in the sun or overdoing your work can add to skin breakouts. You can read more about pitta imbalance and ways to keep cool in the summer here. Below are some tips on a few natural compounds in skin products for pitta skin:
Neem is a tropical plant with so many uses. For skin, it is found in soaps, creams and shampoos. It has cooling qualities so assists the body in removing excess heat. It is very anti-microbial so good for conditions such as fungal skin infections. It is available as an oil but has a strong odour so is more manageable mixed with other ingredients. It can be also taken as a capsule internally to clean the skin inside out. Speak with your naturopathic doctor on how to take neem based on your health concern.
Aloe is a well-known plant that grows in the desert, but very versatile to keep at home to heal burns or inflamed skin. It is very soothing for sensitive skin and makes a great base for skin gels and creams. Try taking a small piece of aloe gel from your plant and apply it to your skin – observe how it feels. Great for pitta and vata types in the summer.
Rose is known for its aromatic scent associated with love, romance and feminine qualities. As an herb, it is cooling and rose water or hydrosol is extremely refreshing. Rose oil or creams work well with pitta skin types to help calm and cool the skin and refresh the mind. Rose mist can be kept handy in the car or at work to spray at the hot times of the day to refresh you, or used as a toner as part of your skin care routine. Rose hip oil, from the fruit of the rose, has a slightly different quality but is also very beneficial for healing burns and scars.
Clay comes from the earth and is rich in minerals. There are many different types of clays that will have different qualities but essentially clay works well in soaps or cleansers due to its exfoliating nature. Clay is drying and tightens the skin due to its astringent qualities. It is excellent to detoxify the skin by pulling out toxins. It is great to use as a cleansing mask in the summer. Great for all skin types but vata skin types may need a moisturizer after using clay as it can dry out the skin.
Calendula is a flower which has been used traditionally in healing burns and rashes. It is commonly found in diaper rash creams, salves for burns, or as an oil infusion to apply on the skin. It is excellent in pitta skin conditions especially where there is irritated or red skin as it is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be used as a cream, oil, ointment or infusion.
Coconut oil is cooling for the skin and is great for pitta skin issues. It has been used for centuries to strengthen skin and promote healthy hair growth. It grows in tropical climates so it often suits hot climates – best to avoid using in the winter or those with very vata skin since it cools the body down but great in the summer.
These are just a few of the herbs that are used in naturopathic & Ayurvedic treatments to heal skin. These systems treat not only by condition, but by the underlying constitution of the person. Different care is needed for each skin type. If you have chronic skin concerns, topical skin care may not be enough – you may need internal approach to cleaning skin from the inside out. Triphala, burdock, neems are just some of the cleansing herbs used for skin conditions. Use these tips for healthy, glowing summer skin or speak to your ND if you have chronic skin issues that you would like to address. And don’t forget – hydration is the foundation to healthy summer skin!
Dr. Leena Athparia is a Naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.