When it comes to skincare, dry skin rates up there with one of the most difficult dilemmas to deal with. While diet, climate, the weather, skin conditions, sun exposure, and environmental factors play a role, it is natural for the skin to become drier as we age, sometimes giving way to wrinkles and fine lines, which are a gift of time. Once we know the Ayurvedic roots of how our body ages, it is easy to manage the dryness and keep skin looking naturally radiant.

According to Ayurveda, excess vata plays a direct role in skin dryness. Vata dosha is defined by qualities like dryness, coldness, mobility, roughness, and clarity. Ayurveda talks about the important principle of like increases like—the reason why vata properties tend to get aggravated during the cold months. Excess vata can show up as thinner blood, dry and rough skin, dry mucus, chapped lips, reduced electrolytes in the body, earaches, insomnia, bloating, gas, confusion, restlessness, anxiety, and inflammation, among other things.

As we said, like increases like, so to tame dryness caused by excess vata dosha (combination of air and space elements), we need to use remedies that increase or possess the opposite qualities like warmth, unctuousness, softness, or thickness. Managing vata also requires getting used to a routine, especially a sleep routine. Here are quick some Ayurvedic remedies that can come in handy for dealing with stubborn dryness.

Try Abhyanga

Abhyanga—self-massage with the right kind of vata-balancing oils—is a popular and effective vata management technique. It lubricates any skin, bones, and body tissues that may be drying up due to excess vata. If vata is very high, experts recommend an abhyanga session 4–5 times a week using vata-pacifying oils such as rosewood, sandalwood, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sesame, almond, lemon, or orange.

Abhyanga provides much-needed warmth and stability to the body and mind, and helps regularly rid the body of toxic buildup. It gives your skin a supple quality; reduces bloating and water retention, and promotes longevity and well-being. Tridosha-balancing, abhyanga not only helps nourish dry skin, it lubricates and nourishes your body within and without.

The Right Diet

This is a big one. What you eat invariably shows on your skin. Managing dryness symptoms externally may not be a sustainable way of dealing with the roughness. Be sure your diet does not aggravate vata.

  • The foods should be warm, moist, and grounding.
  • Healthy fats, butter, ghee, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, bananas, avocados, bakes apples are all good.
  • Avoid raw vegetables when vata is out of balance. You can have fruit juices like apple juice, berry juices, apricot, apple cider, papaya juice, or peach nectar.
  • Avoid frozen foods; cold cereals,  crackers, dry oats, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, raw onions, and tomatoes.
  • Foods that are salty, sour, or sweet can help bring vata in balance. Stay away from bitter, pungent, or astringent-tasting foods.
  • Soaked nuts like hazelnuts; almonds, pecans, pine nuts, and cashews are a great option. Nuts also have natural oils that provide a nourishing and unctuous quality.
  • Cooked vegetables like carrots, leafy greens, pumpkin, okra, and root vegetables can tame the air element.
  • Warming spices like turmeric, cumin, black pepper, fresh ginger; cloves, bay leaves, dill, marjoram, and saffron also help manage vata.
  • Vata pacifying teas like ginger, fennel, chamomile, fenugreek, and lemongrass are great for your skin and digestion.

You Need a Sleep Schedule

A disturbed sleep cycle, stress, and lack of routine in your lifestyle can aggravate vata dosha and cause excessive dryness. Ayurveda recommends getting into bed by 10:00 pm and avoiding late-night screen time. Deep sleep is essential to healthy skin—balances your body’s hydration and allows your skin to regain its moisture. While you’re at it, avoid loud jarring music, driving fast, discussions that excite, and long-distance air travel—contributors to your emotional well-being that can affect your skin.

Read more about the Ayurvedic Daily Schedule

More Oils, Less Showers

As strange as it may sound, showering too much, especially with hot water, dries out skin faster. And, we tend to use store-bought soaps and body washes that deplete the natural oils in the skin. So pay close attention to the labels on your products and apply a natural oil post-shower to keep the moisture locked in, before patting yourself up with a towel. Check out the Discovery Kit for Dry Skin at Shankara.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Drinking lukewarm water throughout the day prevents dehydration and its byproducts like constipation and lack of clarity. Water helps regulate your body temperature, lubricates your joints, and rid your body of waste through urination, bowel movements, and perspiration. You can also go for herbal teas, juices, and warm soups to stay hydrated and counter the cold and dry quality in the air. Because your body tightly regulates its water balance, it’s best to drink water consistently throughout the day instead of drinking too much at one time.

De-Stress with Meditation & Yoga

Managing stress—the number one enemy for those with vata imbalances—levels is key to managing vata. A daily meditation practice can give you not just a monk’s glow, but also significantly help in grounding vata dosha. Include sufficient rest in between poses or exercises to get the full benefit of the asanas.

If you do yoga, Savasana or corpse pose at the end of the sequence is a must, for the muscles to relax completely. Some calming and grounding pranayamas or breathing techniques that you can practice can be ujjai or victory breath and alternate nostril breathing.

Yogasanas and breathing are great ways to prepare your body for a long deep meditation. You can practice your mantra-based meditation after the yoga and pranayama or just plug into a guided meditation of your choice.

Herbal Remedies for Dry Skin

There are many simple Ayurvedic treatments and therapies you can try at home for dry skin.

  • Taking herbs like Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Vidari, which are sweet and warm, and help you de-stress.
  • Licorice and gooseberries can moisten the digestive tract and tissues in the body.
  • Teas made using Triphala, chamomile, haritaki, marshmallow root, ginger root, licorice, and peppermint can have the dual benefit of regulating vata and improving digestion, especially for people who tend to have constipation and bloating issues during the vata months.
  • Use a paste of neem leaves on your face and body.
  • Sandalwood paste is oily and can help dry skin.
  • Aloe Vera has moisturizing properties that battles (and hair!) dry skin quickly and successfully.
  • Make a decoction out of chamomile and strain it before applying to treat all kinds of skin ailments including allergies and bruises.
  • You can try combinations like paste made from cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds; these are great at retaining moisture as well as exfoliating the skin.
  • Barley and turmeric powder is yet another vata-pacifying combination that is loaded in antioxidants, helps clears up your skin, and makes it look supple and young.

Ayurvedic skin care treatments aren’t overnight miracles, but by treating the skin from the inside out with good daily practices and lots of self-love, you’ll see—and feel—lasting results.

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