The skin is the first organ to reflect imbalances and the last to respond to improvements. “So a change of season is bound to play havoc with it, particularly winter,” warns Dr Meenakshi Joshi, consultant, ayurveda and aromatherapy, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon.
Dr Akhilesh, head, NeoVeda Spa, The Metropolitan Hotel, Delhi, explains why this happens. “When we are exposed to low temperature and cold and dry wind, it results in poor blood circulation to peripheral tissues and cells, particularly the skin of the face,” says Dr Akhilesh. He adds, “As a result the skin does not get enough nutrients and oxygen and all the healthy, regenerative processes slow down, leading to dull, pale and dry skin.”
If you live in a particularly cold climate, such as the north, then indoor heating only makes things worse, adds Dr Akhilesh. The skin loses moisture because of the dry environment, and, when you switch between the cold of the outdoors and the heat indoors, it can really stress your skin.
So what are you to do, given that there’s little you can do about the change of seasons? Well, says Dr Vinay Kumar, senior consultant dermatologist at Jaipur Golden Hospital, Delhi, you must anticipate the stressors.
“The most important winter stressor is low temperature,” he explains. “This can be countered with warm clothes. Next, since humidity is low in this season, humidify your immediate environment. Apply humectants and moisturisers like glycerine, almond oil, coconut oil, Cetaphil, Efaderm, or Cotaryl creams on your skin. And here’s an old-time dermatologic secret: cover the skin after applying a moisturiser or medicated cream. That will enhance the retention and penetration of moisture.”
Even if it gets too cold, never use hot water to bathe in, as that strips away natural protective secretions. Bathe only in warm water. And add a few drops of almond oil or glycerine to your last rinse just before towelling to keep your skin soft. Finally, adds Dr Kumar, “Though sun exposure in winter is beneficial, it is imperative to wear a good sun block to pre-empt skin damage. Any sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or above will suffice.”
Work inside out
More important than external skin care is internal hydration, says Dr Madhuri Agarwal, regional medical coordinator, West, Kaya Skin Clinic. She recommends eating fruit with high water content, such as apples, pomegranate, papaya and oranges, and drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day.
“Flaxseed oil, available both as an oil and in capsules, can moisturise your body from the inside as it is rich in vital fatty acids. And primrose syrup and olive oil in your diet also help soften the skin,” advises Dr Akhilesh. “Also, augment your diet with essential oils contained in raw organic butter, cod liver oil, omega-3 eggs, coconut oil, and fresh cold-water fish.”
While it’s natural to crave hot beverages when it’s cold, herbal tea is best if you want a natural, healthy glow, shares Siddharth Shankar from Mystic Salon and Spa, Delhi. Megha Dinesh, director, spa, The Park, Delhi recommends amla (Indian gooseberry) highly. “It’s magical at taking care of your skin from the inside,” she says.
Out with the dry
Because soap tends to dry the skin, Dr Madhuri Agarwal suggests soap free cleansers with skin pH of 5.5, while Megha Dinesh recommends the use of aqueous or oil-based bath gels. Dr Akhilesh agrees. “Use oil-based moisturisers,” he advises. “Choose one that comes in an ointment form as it will contain 80 per cent oil.”
Start your day with this ritual, suggests Dr Meenakshi Joshi. Take 15 drops each of avocado and apricot oil and mix with 10 drops of glycerine. Massage into your face with your fingertips for 15 minutes, then lightly clean your face with a warm wet cloth. Warm pads on your eyes will reduce puffiness, and rose water drops in your eyes will add shine. “After this, rub fresh tomato puree or juice into your face and wash… you are ready for the day,” says Dr Joshi.
Even simpler is Dr Agarwal’s prescription – a five minute massage with almond and vitamin E oil or cream to alleviate redness and leave the skin soft and supple. “And to get immediate relief for chapped lips,” she adds, “Use a mild lip scrub followed by a steroid cream prescribed by your dermatologist.”
For extreme dryness
If your skin resembles a patch of land in Rajasthan in summer, it’s time for drastic measures.
“Use a urea-based moisturiser after your bath, like Uriative 20 cream,” says Dr Sachin Dhawan, director, department of clinical & aesthetic dermatology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. “Or apply baby oil regularly, or a mix of avocado oil and pure almond oil, or glycerine with rose water, or simply desi ghee. All are equally effective.”
Scratching your skin is a no-no. “Apply shea butter or coconut oil several times a day and try to prevent water from splashing on irritated areas,” says Dr Akhilesh. “Dry skin is also prone to eczema and other uncomfortable skin conditions.”
An avocado mask is a good cure, adds Dr Akhilesh. Mash the flesh of an avocado with a fork, add a touch of extra-virgin olive oil, and apply this on your face. “This will supply your skin with a whole range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and softening agents to fight winter dryness,” he says.
“For very dry skin I would recommend the application of rose oil mixed with wheat germ oil,” says Siddharth Shankar. “Rose is used clinically to treat damaged skin.”
And Megha Dinesh of The Park recommends vitamin E-based creams and also suggests applying mustard or olive oil on the soles of the feet before going to bed.
“Follow the rules of ayurveda,” advises Dr Meenakshi Joshi. “Use natural cleansers and scrub well as they pacify vata and kapha which are mainly responsible for dryness and congested skin. Don’t use a hot shower for long durations. Warm water is just perfect and don’t forget to put in a few drops of olive oil mixed with lavender and patchouli oil. Avoid strong winds and strong sun. Avoid coffee, cigarettes, pollution and alcohol as they cause dryness; drink warm soups and eat cooked vegetables and cereals.
Raw salads and dry foods like toast and biscuits are not good for this season as these may increase vata which can cause dryness and ageing.”
According to Dr Joshi, the simple home remedy of visarga kaal will take care of your skin and is anti-ageing in the long run: drink a glass of warm water with honey and 10 drops of fresh ginger juice. Then massage yourself for 10 minutes with sesame oil, which has heating properties. Then bathe, using oatmeal soaked in milk for a good scrub. “And keep your internal hydration good,” adds Dr Joshi.Makeup tips for the weather
Use mineral makeup as it is inherently nourishing
Use good quality products from brands like M.A.C and Chambor
Use an intense moisturiser before applying your makeup
Use a gentle makeup remover such as Bioderma Sensibio H2O, Cetaphil Sensitive Skin Cleanser or baby oil
Hydrate the skin after removing your makeup
Use products that are rich in humectant content
Apply a good moisturiser before putting on makeup or apply a face cream under your makeup, so it will last. Johnson’s baby cream works very well
Use silicone-based foundations or use powder foundation – these are more resistant to temperature changes. If it’s really cold, avoid liquid foundations altogether. They work very badly with temperature changes
Do not use loose powder as it dries the skin and gives the effect of cracked skin
Avoid cream blushes on cold days. They contain petroleum jelly-derived substances, not recommended on cold days
When you choose your blush or eyeshadows, pick those in mousse form. Avoid eyeshadows that contain petroleum jelly
Use lipsticks that contain beeswax instead of lip gloss
Vibrant, strong colours in winter make the skin look more lively
Level crossing mild winter
(As in cities like Mumbai and Chennai, and early and late winter in cities like Delhi)
Do not over moisturise your skin as that will lead to blocked pores and acne breakouts.
Product Hot list: Use light, water-based moisturisers like Seba Med Clear Face Care Gel or Body Shop vitamin C serum.
(As in places like Delhi and Punjab in December)
Avoid alcoholic toners and harsh scrubs. These damage and irritate dry skin.
Product Hot list: Use cream-based moisturisers with collagen building factors and in-built sunscreen with an SPF of 15. Try IDC day cream or Olay day cream with SPF 15. This will offset some of the dry damage caused by this kind of winter.
(As in hilly areas and Delhi and Punjab in January) Use non soap cleansers.
Product Hot list: Use oil-based cleansers like Seba Med Cleansing Shower Oil and Oilatum Emollient Cleanser, as they will moisturise the skin intensely. Also use a high SPF sunscreen like Bioderma Photoderm Max 50 Sunscreen or La Roche Posay SPF 50 sunscreen because you are likely to spend a lot of time in the sun for warmth.
Courtesy: Dr Sachin Dhawan, director, department of clinical & aesthetic dermatology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon
Soles and palms: Immerse in warm water for 10 minutes twice a day and seal the retained moisture with Vaseline or Moyzen or aloe vera.
Lips: Use homemade butter or milk cream repeatedly as a balm. Smoking is most damaging for lips and so are makeup preparations made from petrolatum or hydrocarbons. Skip shine inducers too. Moisten the lips adequately before applying lipstick.
Nails: Nails tend to get brittle in winter. Soak your hands and feet in warm water frequently, use protective nail enamel and maintain good blood circulation.
Courtesy: Dr Vinay Kumar, senior consultant dermatologist, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Delhi
Dry winter skin always needs heavy hydration
Truth: Not at all. The level of hydration your skin needs depends on the severity of the weather, your profession (do you work indoors or outdoors?), your skin type and your location.
You can use the same cream for your face and your body
Truth: No. Different levels of oil are required for your face and your body, so the creams must also be different
Dry skin just needs a good facial and scrub to be sorted
Truth: Choose your face treatments wisely. If these are not done properly, the problem will only be aggravated
You should use steam to soften your skin
Truth: Steam leads to the dissolution of essential oils from the skin’s surface, leaving it dry. So avoid steaming your face
Use petroleum jelly as a balm for your lips
Truth: Frequent application of petroleum jelly actually dries the lips. So use lip balms with natural oils like vitamin E, almond, chamomile and jojoba, that are fortified with sunscreens
The 12 commandments for winter hair
“Hair is an extension of the skin, so imbalances in the body will show on the hair too,” says Dr Meenakshi Joshi, consultant, ayurveda and aromatherapy, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. “Winter is the season of over-flowing kapha with an imbalance of vata which together cause dandruff and heavy hairfall. A dry and sebaceous congested scalp leads to fungal and bacterial infections, and sebum and clogged pores makes the hair very dull.” But you can beat these problems.
Follow these 12 steps outlined by experts to ensure healthy, good looking hair all through these cold months.
Feed the hair. Ensure a protein rich diet with nutrients like zinc, magnesium, iron and vitamin B. Eat walnuts and almonds and check with your dermatologist about supplements containing omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Also take natural vitamin E supplements like flaxseed oil.
Lightly massage the scalp with oils like nilibhringi, bhringraaj or simple sesame oil at least twice a week. The oil should be kept on the scalp for 3-4 hours or overnight. Avoid heavy oils like almond oil.
Use shampoo that contains vitamin E and natural ingredients such avocado oil, olive oil, lemon extract and soy protein. Or opt for a mild oil control shampoo to reduce scalp oil and dandruff.
Use an intense hydrating conditioner like the DCL conditioner, and deep condition at least once a week. Warm a few tablespoons of olive oil in the microwave, then work it into your hair as you would a regular conditioner. Leave for a few minutes, then wash. Or use curd-based hair packs at home or opt for a hair spa and deep conditioning treatment at the salon. Beer is also a very good conditioner.
Use lukewarm or normal water for your shampoo. Avoid very hot water as it leads to hair loss.
Avoid too much colour. Use herbal hair colours like Vegetal bio-colour.
Shield your hair with a hat, cap
or scarf. Wear it loose enough to allow scalp circulation, but closely enough to protect your hair against chilly winds.
Do not steam your hair as it leads to further drying.Let your hair dry naturally, as blow-dried hair is more susceptible to damage, and exposure to extreme conditions such as wind and low temperatures can cause further damage.
To beat dandruff, massage the scalp with coconut oil, leave it on for half an hour beneath a hot towel and then wash it with a mild shampoo. Do this regularly. You can also use a medicated leave-on cream or shampoo with anti- dandruff properties. Kaya Anti Dandruff Leave On Lotion with botanical extracts is a great solution for dandruff without drying the scalp.
Static energy is very intense in cooler weather. So rub a dryer softener sheet over the brush before brushing.
If your hair tends to become too dry in winter, go for a hair repair mask at a salon.
Go for the gloss
Using oil treated with lime juice will keep your hair glossy and healthy
To add shine to your hair, apply henna and amla powder for one hour and wash it off without using shampoo and conditioner
Running conditioned hair through a last rinse of cold water adds instant shine to your hair
Use a leave-on serum to smoothen your hair
Add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse water to add instant sheen
Out with frizz
Use a silicone-based serum like L’Oreal Lumi oil to settle frizzy hair post shampoo
Apply conditioner for half an hour and then wash it off with lukewarm water
Go for hair spas that are rich in protein
Spray hairspray on a brush and brush it through your hair
Mix 1 tbsp lime juice with 1 tbsp glycerine and 1 tbsp rose water. Apply half an hour before a bath, or apply at bedtime and wash in the morning before your bath.
Make a paste of 1 cup of fresh rose petals with half a cup of milk, 1 tsp gram flour and some rose water. Apply on arms and legs before bathing to help the skin retain moisture and
remain soft and supple.
Make a paste of 2 tbsp oats, 1 tbsp lime juice and some milk. Apply on your body five minutes
before your bath.
After showering, smear your body with virgin coconut oil, cocoa butter or shea butter. These contain naturally occurring essential oils, skin-friendly vitamins A, C, D and E, and proteins.
Salt & spice Scrub: The salt exfoliates and keeps the skin glowing and smooth. Combine 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1 cup vitamin E and 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder in a non metallic bowl. After a warm shower, apply the scrub and massage in circular motions. Rinse well after 20 minutes.
Cereal & sugar Scrub: Oats are a wonderful natural skin polisher. Combine 1 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tsp pure honey, 1 cup milk, drops of almond oil, a pinch of saffron, all in a metallic bowl and follow the same procedure as above.
Salt & Citrus scrub: Powder 1 tsp jaggery, add 3 tbsp lemon, 1 tsp rock salt and 1/2 cup jojoba oil. Mix and apply immediately. Scrub until the jaggery and salt crystals dissolve completely.
Face the weather
Soft Skin Mask: Mix fresh cream, almond oil and crushed green almonds. Apply and leave on for 30 min.
Get Glowing Masks: Milk powder with a few drops of rose water and lemon juice; and soybean powder with few drops of honey and milk, make excellent nourishing face packs and scrubs.
Hydrating Mask: Mix 4 tbsp gram flour, 1 mashed ripe banana and 1 beaten egg, apply and leave on for 15 minutes, rinse with warm water, pat dry and moisturise.
Dry skin Mask: Mix 2 tbsp honey,1 tbsp almond oil and 5 drops rose essential oil. Follow the same procedure as above.
Pineapple-Olive Oil Mask: Mix 1/2 cup pineapple of the consistency of apple sauce and 3 tbsp each of olive oil and lavender oil. Apply wherever necessary – face, arms, legs. Follow the same procedure as above.
Cultured milk mask: Apply dahi or buttermilk on your face, avoiding areas around the eyes. Relax for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.
All treatments Courtesy: Dr Meenakshi Joshi, consultant, ayurveda and aromatherapy, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon; Dr Sachin Dhawan, director, department of clinical & aesthetic dermatology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon; Dr Madhuri Agarwal, regional medical coordinator, West, Kaya Skin Clinic; Siddharth Shankar, Mystic Salon and Spa, Delhi; Megha Dinesh, director – spa, The Park, Delhi
From HT Brunch, November 27
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