Dry, dull, and lifeless, is this how you define your skin and scalp during the winter season? If yes, your answer will likely change once you experiment with Ayurveda approved winter care skin and hair regime. The dryness of fall and the cold of winter can make people experience dry scalp and skin. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, winter is the optimal time during the year when one needs to pay close attention to the skin and scalp health as they tend to get dryer during this time. However, luckily it is the very same time when the skin and scalp are in a position to absorb all the nourishment we are willing to provide. Therefore, it is important to take care of the skin and scalp from the inside and outside to maintain healthy and radiant skin and lustrous locks during winter.
How do skin, hair, and body change with the weather?
Why do our skin and hair feel dry and flaky during winter? Why does our skin feel dry and itchy even after covering it with moisturizers and endless lotions? The answer is simple: synthetic and chemical-based products are only temporary fixes as they do not address the problem's root.
According to Ayurveda, during the cold winters, all the heat and moisture in the external parts of the body, like skin, hair, etc., is driven inwards into the digestive tract (koshta), and the digestive fire (agni) gets concentrated here. And since all the body warmth has been driven inwards, our skin and hair are continuously exposed to the cold wind, leading to aggravation in Vata build-up externally in the body and dryness in hair and skin. Therefore, in order to counter skin and scalp dryness in the winter season, we must balance our doshas - to have healthy, plump, glowing skin and hair during winter.
Causes of dry & rough skin and hair during winters
Various internal and external factors affect the health of our skin and hair. Since our skin performs multiple functions, including acting as an excretory organ, our body needs to maintain its optimal temperature. And since our skin reacts to seasonal changes, we must take care of it whenever there is any change, especially during winter. The major causes of dry, dull, and itchy skin, scalp, and hair during winter are low sebum production and dry air
During winters, sebum production decreases, depriving the skin of necessary oils and making it dry. Furthermore, our hair and scalp become dehydrated, rough, and prone to dandruff and hair fall.
Another external factor responsible for reducing skin moisture is cold and dry air. During winters, the air is dry and the moisture from the skin easily evaporates, leaving it dehydrated
2 and flaky. Since winter air has a low moisture content, it can wreak more damage to hair than humid weather. It can make the hair look dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage.
Ayurvedic hair therapies that can help address the issue
- Shirodhara: This Ayurvedic practice involves gentle head massage while pouring warm oils and liquids formulated with Ayurvedic herbal ingredients on the forehead from an oscillating container hung above. As a result, the circulation in the scalp improves, leading to the exfoliation of dead skin, slowing hair thinning, better movement of lymphatic fluids, removal of toxins, nourishment to the scalp and strands, and better hair growth.
READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Shirodhara
- Shiro abhyanga: This Ayurvedic treatment involves massaging the head, upper back, neck, and shoulders with warm Ayurvedic oils to relieve stress from muscles and tissues. According to experts, since Shiro abhyanga includes complete head, neck, and shoulders massage, it balances the three upper chakras that are associated with the body, mind, and spirit. Additionally, it may help pacify the effects of Vata on the scalp like dryness, dandruff, frizz, and brittle hair. The gentle massage promotes a better flow of oxygen and blood, thus, ensuring nutrient supply to your follicles.
READ MORE: Shiro Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Ritual with Proven Benefits for Hair Health
- Shiro Lepa: For this Ayurvedic practice, a paste, as per powerful Ayurvedic formulations, is applied on the entire scalp. This paste
3 is made using powerful herbs like triphala, bhringraj, jatamansi, etc. After applying this paste, the scalp is partially covered with banana leaves, leaving the top portion of the scalp exposed for pouring ayurvedic herb-infused oils. Shiro Lepa is excellent for providing deep nourishment to the scalp and hair strands.
- Oiling: Our busy schedules can make it difficult for us to perform Shirodhara and Shiro abhyanga. However, with regular scalp massages with Ayurvedic oils at home, a person can manage their doshas and reduce winter-related hair troubles like dry scalp, rough strands, hair thinning, etc., and promote healthy hair. Gently massaging the scalp for about 15-20 minutes with pure Ayurvedic hair oil can potentially enhance blood circulation and promote a healthy scalp and hair.
Remedies and herbs
Ayurveda-approved oils: According to Ayurveda, when the doshas of our body are out of balance, we become vulnerable to ailments and troubles. With cold and dry winters, Vata and Kapha dosha are prone to get aggravated - leading to dryness-related issues. Using oil massage
4 with appropriate Ayurveda-approved oils can act as a great treatment for not only dry skin but scalp and hair strands as well. A few oils that people can use during winter on their skin and hair are sesame oil, shatavari oil, coconut oil, bhringraj oil, almond oil, etc. These oils have natural healing properties and suites almost all skin types. It can help reduce inflammation and allergic infection and revitalize the skin by restoring its natural oil balance.
READ MORE: Seven Ayurvedic Herbs For Strong And Healthy Hair
Yoga: Yoga can offer some amazing benefits for skin and hair. Practicing the asanas can help increase oxygen and blood flow, prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals, reduce premature aging, dryness, etc. Some asanas that can help improve our skin and hair quality are Bhujangasana, Ustrasana, Matsyasana, Sarvangasana, Dhanurasna, Uttanasana, face yoga
READ MORE: AyurYoga: Yoga For Your Body Type (Ayurvedic Yoga)
Ayurvedic mukha lepam****: Applying an Ayurvedic mukha lepam loaded with the goodness of natural ingredients that can hydrate, soothe, and moisturize dry skin can help get a radiant glow throughout the winter. These mukha lepam are made using ayurvedic herbs pounded to fine-paste form to address different skin concerns. The topical application of the lepas is an age-old remedy that is considered in high regard in Ayurveda. Depending on different concerns, these lepams are made using appropriate ingredients. Some Ayurveda-approved lepams that can help deal with skin dryness associated with winter are:
- Milk, almond, and rosewater face pack.
- Avocado honey and clove oil face pack.
- Banana and aloe vera face pack.
- Papaya and honey face pack.
All these mukha lepams are very effective against dryness as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that are essential to prevent internal and external dryness. The anti-inflammatory properties of these ingredients can also protect the skin from irritation caused by the weather and deeply moisturize the skin. People can apply these on their skin, leave it for 20-30 minutes and rinse it off gently with warm water to get visibly soft and hydrated skin. Using these twice a week in winter can prevent skin from drying.
Moisturizing: Essential oils from our skin and scalp deplete due to the dry air in the winter months, leaving it dry, rough, and frizzy. Applying an external moisturizer is a great way to restore lost oils to our scalp, hair strands, and skin. Choosing Ayurveda-approved moisturizers is a great way to deeply moisturize dry skin and hair without using chemicals. Using gentle cleansers is a good way to keep dry skin away. Since damp skin easily absorbs the moisturizer and prevents your skin from drying out, moisturizing skin after stepping out of the shower is recommended. Natural deep conditioners like aloe vera, honey, and hibiscus flowers
6 can help lock moisture in the hair shaft, preventing frizz, and split ends.
Stay hydrated: Hydration is the key to glowing and healthy skin and scalp. Drinking sufficient water is important during the winter season. Since moisture evaporates from your body easily during winters causing dryness, keeping hydrated is a good way to replenish moisture loss. Drinking 7 to 8 glasses of water can help remove harmful toxins from the body, enhance the skin's health, and hydrate it from within. Having fruits and vegetables rich in water content can also help pacify the Vata Dosha, which causes severe hair problems in winter and makes the skin look dry.
Appropriate diet: The right diet is a key factor that governs our skin and hair health. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, consuming foods such as oranges, walnuts, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, gourds, carrots, green leafy vegetables, ghee, and coconut oil in our diet can keep the skin and scalp hydrated from the inside. These ingredients are rich in Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, Beta carotene, etc. A Vata-pacifying diet of grounding foods can help keep the digestive fire functioning and fully support your skin from the inside out. Well-cooked vegetables, hearty grains, warm soups, and stews can help maintain healthy skin and hair during winter.
READ MORE: Winter Diet 101: Better Health The Ayurveda Way
A great way to have healthy skin and hair during winter is by consuming an Ayurveda-approved diet, keeping the skin and scalp moisturized, performing ayurvedic rituals, and experimenting with Ayurveda-approved herbs and remedies.
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- Dr. Meghana Dangar and Dr. Rajeev G. Dole, Role Of Pracchan Karma F/B Triphaladi Shiro Lepa In The Management Of Khalitya- A Single Case Study 2019, World Journal Of Pharmaceutical And Medical Research, 2019,5(7), 288-291