Left: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care
By: Sheetal Rawal
As far as Ayurveda goes, we all have our unique constitution (dosha profile). Some people have an overabundance of the air element (vata). This translates to dry skin most of the time. The onset of winter can be a particularly trying time for the skin. The combination of cold and dry air can cause or worsen existing dryness.
If you have dry skin, you most likely know. Mild dryness can mean a stretchy feeling after washing, which gets better temporarily when a lotion is applied. However, if the skin care product used to alleviate dryness has harsh chemicals like alcohols or artificial fragrance (also called parfum on the label) in it, then the dryness comes back and in most cases gets worse over time.
Moderate to severe dryness can result in the same stretchy feeling; in addition, the skin can also look powdery and flaky and prone to being very itchy and discolored.
Dry skin is primarily a result of the skin’s sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) being underactive, or skin’s inability to hold on to moisture. A classical Ayurvedic take would be that the excess air element causes the skin's moisture levels to simply dry out.
Dry skin can also be a result of inflammatory skin disorders like eczema, dermatitis etc. Whatever the reason, dryness of skin is no fun. Not only does it prevent our skin from looking flawless and dewy, but it also makes the skin more prone to early aging (lines and wrinkles) and unevenness. Existing hyperpigmentation can look worse as well, and skin can take on a patchy appearance.
Here are my top dos and don'ts as far as recovering from dry skin is concerned. In my experience (chiefly from hearing people's feedback) dry skin is easier to bounce back from. A daily and weekly skin care routine is second to none in this process of recovery. However, a routine made with harsh chemicals can lead to the opposite. So be sure to choose products made with natural ingredients that have the capability of changing the way your skin behaves at a very deep level. Carrot seed, vetiver, and geranium oils are my top favorites when it comes to ending the cycle of dryness.
1. (DO) Find out if you have any food allergies. Research has linked food allergies to excess dryness of skin linked to conditions like eczema. Your medical doctor should
be able to lead you in the right direction. If chronic dryness, tenderness, itchiness, and associated discoloration fits the description of what you are going through, I will advise you to talk to your doctor about getting tested for allergies (food and environmental). Often, food or environmental intolerances go unnoticed and the only way to find out is by getting tested. In my case, I notice varying degrees of dryness if I consume oats or rice.
2. (DO NOT) Take long, hot showers. If you do, stop now! This one is extremely important and an improvement in dryness can be expected shortly after you stop this habit. Hot water dissolves the beneficial oils that your skin produces to keep itself supple. It also opens up the pores of your skin and allows certain harsh salts in the tap water to travel to deeper
layers of your skin. This is very upsetting to the health of your skin. The longer you stand underwater, the more chances of damage (for obvious reasons). As tempting as it is to take a hot shower, it is best not to, especially if you have dry skin. Short showers with lukewarm water are the best way to go.
3. (DO) Check if your skin care products are free of harsh chemicals. If not, toss them out ASAP! As dramatic as it appears, I do very much mean to be extremely vehement in expressing this point. Harsh chemical
detergents like SLSs (or sulfates) are an ongoing insult to injury. Not only do they not help, they actually make dryness worse. After you wash your skin, if you need to apply a lotion the very next minute to make that stretchy and itchy feeling go away, then your body wash and/or face cleanser are very likely ready to be thrown out. Washes and cleansers that have SLSs foam excessively and while that might mean a psychological feeling of cleanliness, physiologically it is a disastrous situation. We simply do not need that amount of foam to get clean. Other culprits are alcohols, parabens, petrochemicals, fragrances etc. Cumulatively, the negative side effects only pile on. Be vigilant in your choice of products. If you have any question related to ingredients feel free to fill out this form and I will happily help.
In this video, Sheetal shares an easy almond oil, avocado and aloe vera face mask to nourish, hydrate and revitalize dry skin in 10-12 minutes. Simple and highly effective. Must try!
4. (DO) Check if a fabric does not agree with your skin. Like food allergies, this one might take a while to figure out, but there are plenty of people who swear their dryness gets worse when they wear fabrics like nylon. As a general rule, any garment that does not breathe well and causes you to get sweaty is a bad choice. Synthetic fabrics tend to be major culprits in worsening dryness and in many cases can even cause a full-blown allergic reaction. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen etc can be a very wise choice if you have excess dryness, especially related to a disorder like eczema.
5. (DO) Buy a humidifier and have it on for as long as you can. Geography has a lot to do with skin and hair health. A big variable from one place to another is the level of moisture in the air. Higher levels of humidity are very conducive to good skin and hair health. If you
live in a dry area, the chances that you will develop dryness of skin and hair are quite high. To compensate, a humidifier is a great device. Provided that it is kept clean and free of mold. Leave a humidifier on to improve the quality of the air around you, definitely in your bedroom, but also (if possible) in your office. You can add 2 tsp. of aloe vera gel to the water to further help condition your skin.
6. (DO NOT) Wash your clothes with harsh laundry detergents. As you might appreciate laundry detergents are among the harshest household products. Traces of these are left over in clothes and bed linen even after they are dry. When in contact with your skin these traces can worsen dryness or even cause allergies. So be vigilant and choose the mildest laundry detergent you can find.
7. (DO) Have a natural skin care routine and stick with it. When first researching natural ingredients in relation to dry and imbalanced skin, I was amazed to learn that such
ingredients not only exist but have an awesome reputation as well. Ingredients like geranium, carrot seed, sandalwood, and vetiver are top Ayurvedic stars that have a track record of 1000s of years to profoundly help dry skin. Over the last few years, users of Apsara Skin Care products for dry skin have confirmed this. When properly cared for dry skin is not hard to bounce back from. A good routine comprising of face and body care products can be a lifelong companion in keeping skin moist, dewy and deeply nourished.
Questions? Comments? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments field below.
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Go natural. It is good karma!