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Intro to Ayurvedic Skincare, Part III

CARING FOR THE SKIN AROUND THE EYES

The skin around the eyes tends to be thinner and more delicate as it is not as fat-enriched and does not contain many sebaceous glands. As a result, squinting from the sun or focusing your eyesight on reading or driving can contribute to crow’s feet and other fine lines around the eyes. We’ll give some holistic solutions to some common complaints. Note Don’t apply oils to the eyes if you are driving.

CROW’S FEET

  • Avoid chemical makeup removers and heavy eye creams. Instead, use coconut oil on a cotton pad to remove eye makeup.
  • Don’t look directly at the sun, always wear sunglasses outside, and read in a well-lit room.
  • Using your ring finger or pinky finger, gently massage the skin around your eyes at bedtime using ghee, almond, or olive oil infused with rose or sandalwood essential oil; one ounce of base oil infused with 5–10 drops of essential oil.

DARK CIRCLES UNDER THE EYES

Some factors that can cause dark circles are anemia, poor circulation, sleep disturbances, menstrual disorders, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and a poor diet.

  • While lying down, elevate your legs above your heart for 10–20 minutes.
  • Soak cotton pads in rosewater or the juice of crushed mint and place over closed eyes for 5–10 minutes.
  • At bedtime, gently massage around the eyes, using your ring or pink finger with almond oil.

PUFFY EYES

Puffy eyes can result from hypertension, hormonal imbalance, liver or kidney problems, constipation, low digestive fire, water retention, sleep disturbances, and a poor diet.

  • You can make eye pads using black tea bags soaked in warm water. Place thin slices of cucumber or potato on closed eyes for 20 minutes.
  • Help drain lymphatic fluids by gently pressing underneath the eye with your ring finger, one point at a time, from the inside to the outside corner.

TONED TISSUE

Add a glow and tone the tissue around the eyes using a fennel or eyebright tea eyewash. Fill an eye cup with the cooled tea and bathe each eye for thirty seconds while blinking.

RELIEVE EYE STRAIN AND SLEEP BETTER

Massage the feet with castor oil at bedtime. Because castor oil is thick, wear old socks to bed to avoid ruining your sheets! If you are overheated due to hot weather or inflammation, use coconut oil or brahmi oil instead of castor oil.

FRESHEN UP THE EYES

Spray a light mist of cool water on the eyes every hour if you drive long distances, read a lot, or spend a lot of time on a computer. It’s very refreshing for weary eyes.

ALLEVIATE BLOODSHOT EYES

  • Apply rosewater to a cotton pad, lie down, and place the pads over closed eyes for 10–15 minutes.
  • You can also apply a small dab of ghee to the inner corner of each eye at bedtime.

FOR THICKER EYEBROWS AND EYELASHES

Apply castor oil or olive oil to the eyelashes at night before bed.

WEARING THE PROPER SUNGLASSES

Various colored sunglass lenses are fashionable but not always healthy for the eyes. Favor green or smoky-colored lenses; avoid purple and blue lenses.

LOVE YOUR LYMPH!

The lymphatic system is multiple systems all rolled into one. A properly functioning lymphatic system rewards us with many benefits, including healthy, vibrant-looking skin.

Go with the Flow by Improving Lymphatic Function

Unlike some other systems of the body, the lymphatic system does not function on its own. We need to encourage the lymph to flow to usher toxins out of the body and boost immunity, giving us healthy glowing, clear skin. Restoring the function of the lymphatic system is possible with diet and lifestyle shifts that will improve the condition of your skin inside and out!

Take action to improve lymphatic flow with these simple measures.

DIET

When we encounter imbalances within ourselves, we can usually trace the causes back to diet and lifestyle.

The skin responds very well to eating seasonally, favoring a well-balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and the amount of fat and protein that is right for your unique needs.

  • Avoid canned, stale, microwaved, frozen, and fried foods.
  • Listen to your hunger cues (don’t skip meals) and avoid snacking between meals.
  • Favor alkaline foods over acidic foods. Generally, fruits and vegetables are the most alkaline.

Ayurveda doesn’t ask that you restrict entire food groups from your diet. However, as mentioned before, it does recommend that you favor more alkaline foods and steer away from processed, frozen, microwaved, and fast food.

Try incorporating more of these foods into your diet:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Celery
    Cherries
  • Cinnamon
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranates
  • Turmeric

GO GREEN!

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens

*Special tip: Don’t part with the pith. The white part (pith) of citrus fruits and pomegranates contains a constituent called diosmin, which has been revealed to support healthy functioning and strengthening of the lymphatic system. Therefore, incorporate some of the pith when you eat citrus fruits and pomegranates.

HYDRATION

The reason lymph becomes congested and basically “dumps” toxins into the body is multi-factorial. One of the biggest reasons for congested lymph is dehydration. Water is the only fluid that gets the lymph moving; other liquids don’t count!

Drink Up, Buttercup!

You know you need to drink plenty of water, but how much is enough? Generally speaking, half of your body weight in ounces of water per day is a good idea. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water daily. If you are over or underweight, drink half of your healthy ideal weight in ounces. That being said, if you are underweight, you will need to drink more than half of your body weight in ounces; if you are overweight, drink less than half of your body weight in ounces.

  • Drink more water if you exercise or perform work that makes you sweat or you consume alcohol or caffeine.
  • An extremely effective way to put water to work is to sip it hot throughout the day. Fill an insulated bottle with hot water and sip it approximately every fifteen minutes all day long. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself!

GET YOUR GLOW ON WITH GARSHANA

Garshana is the Ayurvedic term for dry-brushing the skin. Classic garshana involves the use of raw silk gloves. The combination of the raw silk gloves and friction on the skin alkalizes the blood, reducing static electricity. Healthy skin has an affinity for alkalinity!

How to Perform Garshana

  1. Perform garshana on dry skin; a good routine is to perform it before showering so that you can rinse off the exfoliated skin residue in the shower.
  2. Begin at the feet and work your way up using long, sweeping strokes on the body (use circular motions on the joints-knees, elbows, etc.), always brushing toward the heart.
  3. You can use a dry body brush if you don’t have garshana gloves.

ABHYANGA

  • Always use unrefined organic oil when possible.
  • Submerge the bottle of oil in hot water for a few minutes to warm it up; do not apply cold oil to the skin. Room temperature oil may be used in summer.
  • Apply the oil to the entire body using circular motions on the joints and long strokes on the limbs. Use circular clockwise motions on the abdomen.
  • Leave the oil on for at least 20 minutes before showering, and then rinse the body; there is no need to wash the oil off with soap.
  • You can apply the oil before showering or after and leave on all day.

Abhyanga can also be done twice a day if there is severe dryness or the need to calm the nervous system. (Stress causes stagnation of the lymphatic system.)

Additional benefits include reduced hot flashes, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and insomnia, as well as increased immunity. Abhayanga also deeply moisturizes, stimulates digestion, and soothes the nervous system.

It is extremely beneficial to massage the scalp and hair with oil as well. Sesame oil is best for the scalp, while coconut oil is best for deep hair conditioning. To deep condition: wet hair, apply a generous amount of coconut oil, cover hair with a shower cap, leave on for a couple of hours, and then shampoo as usual.

DO NOT PERFORM ABHYANGA DURING MENSTRUATION.

YOGA, EXERCISE, & LIFESTYLE

Daily, moderate exercise and yoga are vital to the health of your skin and entire being.

Since the lymphatic system does not have its own pump, we need to help activate it. Bobbing up and down, rolling around on a soft surface, using a rebounder (small, personal-size trampoline), skipping, and jogging are some ways to accomplish lymph activation. (These activities are a lot like playing, right?!)

Yoga postures that invert the body are top-notch for encouraging lymphatic flow too.

  • Headstand (Sirsasana)
  • Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
  • Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
  • Downward Facing Dog (Adho Much Svanasana)
  • Forearm Balance (Pincha Mayurasana)
  • Handstand (Adho Much Vrksasana)
  • Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  • Plow (Halasana)
  • Wheel (Urdvha Dhanurasana)

Dive Into Downtime

It’s all about balance. Don’t wear out your “get up and go.” Get adequate rest and balance out social interactions by spending time alone to reconnect with yourself and rejuvenate.

Savor Sleep

In our fast-paced, hectic world, sleep is often curtailed. And with stress causing insomnia, we need help when it comes to getting restful slumber. Meditation, yoga postures, breath work practices, and deep relaxation can help us zone in on getting our Zzzzzz’s.

Find help here:

Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation AKA yogic sleep)

Help for Snoring 

The Whys and Hows of Quality Sleep 

Support for Insomnia

Yoga Poses for Sleep 

Sleeping Position

Lying on your side helps drain the lymph.

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