When you look in the mirror each morning - before your makeup, no cheating! - can you honestly say your skin is glowing? During the day, if you happen to brush against your face or arms, do you enjoy how smooth and soft they are? Is the skin on your arms and legs well-hydrated, even without heavy-duty moisturizers?
If your skin is healthy and you can say yes to all, read no more. If you have room for improvement though, like most of us, here are some (mostly!) easy and fun-to-incorporate tips for recapturing the glowing skin of your childhood.
You’ve probably got a good idea already what type skin you have, but be aware that it may be different in different areas (face vs legs, for instance) and different seasons such as winter vs summer. This part is pretty simple: Is the area of concern too dry/scaly, oily/blemish-prone, or variable?
Now that you know what your skin type is, let’s figure out how to get it glowing and youthful. There is an Ayurvedic principle that states that “Like increases like” and so, if you want to improve the health of your skin, look to changes that will bring more of the opposite.
For dry skin, especially in winter, adopt products and lifestyle changes that will bring moisture back:
1. Avoid extremes of water temperature on your skin - too hot will dehydrate your skin even more, too cold may temporarily constrict blood vessels, but doesn’t shrink pores.
2. Hydrate, but gently, and with warm water. This one was a little difficult for me at first, because I used to love very hot tea and very cold iced water. After a while, though, it won’t seem so unusual to ask for your water with lemon, no ice.
3. Add serums that will strengthen your skin. This may take some investigation, but some ingredients, such as aloe, are good for almost everyone.
4. Choose your moisturizer carefully. Not every product is good for the skin. Mineral oil, a common ingredient in commercial skin care, for instance, initially feels moisturizing, but actually results in dryer skin.
5. Consider adding Abhyanga to your daily regimen. This is the Ayurvedic practice of daily self massage with warm oil. While it is recommended for all, it may be of special benefit to those with dry skin, especially during the colder months. I'll be writing more about this soon.
Oily skin needs some mild drying:
1. Use a gentle cleanser, twice a day if necessary. Too harsh and you will strip your skin of the same oils that will keep you looking younger, longer. It can even result in a paradoxical increase in oil production.
2. Adding a toner to tighten your pores and remove additional impurities is helpful.
3. Hydration is key here as well. Those with acne prone skin often have toxins that need to be flushed from the body. Water is critical for this.
4. You may need a light moisturizer as well, especially if you have combination-type skin.
Another holistic healthy skin maxim is that you should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. One look at the ingredient list on most mainstream skin care products and makeup and it’s clear that they don’t follow that rule.
This suggestion doesn’t apply just to what you put on your face and body. It also means you would do well to watch what you put in your body as well. I’m lucky (in a sense) in that whatever I eat has a near immediate effect on me - at the most a couple of days, so that it’s pretty easy for me to determine if a particular food or product is good for me.
If it’s not so clear for you, take time to do a food and product diary for a couple of weeks at least. See if there are any glaring issues such as breaking out whenever you eat milk chocolate or use a certain skin care product.
Instead, search for products that use plant-based ingredients and essential oils, both of which are safer for your skin and just as effective, if not more. Don’t be lulled into thinking that you can use these natural products indiscriminately, though, especially on young children or if you are pregnant. If you have questions or concerns about a particular product, ask!
I did mention that some of the tips might not be as easy as others to implement. That’s where the following two come in.
I love the feel of the sun on my face and body and so do most of my patients. Unfortunately, too much of that very necessary and pleasant sun exposure leads to very dry, unhealthy skin and, much too often, skin cancer. This is where knowing your skin’s limit is important. While I can (and actually need to) stay in the sun for hours to get my vitamin D, someone with fair skin may only be able to tolerate 15 minutes or less, even with sun block, before getting red and blistered.
The last tip - and possibly hardest - is to stop smoking. If you smoke now and did nothing else for your skin but stop, you would have a significant effect on your skin, both in the short run and over the years.
Many of the above recommendations stress how important it is for us to understand and appreciate our own bodies. Once we do, making changes that can and will result in dramatic improvements in our skin are easy. So are you ready to love your glowing, healthy skin?
We'll be introducing our favorite holistic skin care very soon. Watch for it!
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