Autumn is the most colorful season of all. Trees get filled with different shades during this lovely season. But along with its gorgeous, bright colours comes the uninvited: dull, dry skin & hair.
To fix this dryness simply applying creams and oils may not be enough. Besides, dry skin will develop fine lines and wrinkles faster.
Ayurveda, a traditional medical system of India, has a very different approach to skin and hair care. That’s because ayurvedic remedies treat not only the symptom of dryness but also the underlying imbalances that cause it.
In Ayurvedic terms, autumn or fall is vata season. The atmosphere is dry, cool, windy and erratic. As the temperatures drop, the indoor heating goes on and up, but this dries out the air in the home. You have dryness everywhere—inside and outside.
This sucks moisture from the skin, causing it to go rough, dry and dehydrate. Some people also experience flaking and irritation as well as a flare-up of some skin conditions like eczema.
According to Ayurveda dryness and roughness is vata trait. Almost one-third of us are born with this vata trait. And autumn weather only makes it worse.
Other signs of increased vata are: cracked skin, lips, nails and heels; cracking joints; lusterless hair, dandruff, psoriasis, constipation, cold hands and feet, and thyroid imbalance.
You can’t change the vata trait you are born with, but you can reduce its effects by taking extra care. (You can read more about vata dosha here)
Luckily, there is an ayurvedic way to autumn-proof our skin and hair and it is very easy to follow.
A basic tenet of Ayurveda is that “like increases like.”
So, if we consider this Ayurvedic principle that opposites balance, the autumn season will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth and deep nourishment.
Amazingly, many of us adopt seasonally appropriate habits already, without even being conscious of doing so.
For instance, in the summertime, we enjoy eating cold salads, melons and cucumber. Whereas by October and November, we often crave warm soups or stews that naturally pacify the dry, light and erratic nature of the fall.
And, it’s not just about eating healthy. It’s important that you eat the right foods and make some minor tweaks to your routine to counter the effects of this season.
Here are seven ways to ease you through this seasonal transition and enjoy glowing skin and shiny hair all year round.
When there is dryness in the atmosphere, warm, moist meals’ are the most satisfying and nourishing for us.
Soups, stews, one-pot meals, lightly cooked vegetables, khichdi and porridge are good choices.
It’s best to eat cooked vegetables than raw salads. And if you must eat salad then warm it up slightly or eat at room temperature.
Avoid foods like popcorn, crackers, breakfast cereals, and dried fruits… these are exceptionally drying foods.
Reduce dry or light fruits such as apples (cooked is ok), pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and dried fruits.
Whenever I drink less water I notice that my skin becomes dry and my scalp is itchy and flaky.
It’s essential to drink plenty of fluids. But avoid ice water and drinks, especially during autumn months. This is because cold water will make your dryness or vata worse.
If you can’t drink warm water then at least sip room-temperature water.
Also, it’s very tempting to drink tea/coffee during cold months. But try to keep the caffeine to a minimum as it will only dehydrate you further.
Instead, make yourself some herbal tea, for example drinking fresh ginger and lemon tea in the afternoon will not only wake you up but also keep your digestion healthy.
Healthy fats such as nuts and seeds are great for keeping your skin/hair moisturised from within.
You can also use their cold-pressed unrefined oils, to get your daily dose of essential fats. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons in a smoothie or soups.
You may also like: Why soak nuts and seeds overnight?
Ghee (clarified butter) is another excellent fat you should consider in cold weather. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, E, D and the essential fatty acids, it works miracles for the skin.
It also makes hair wonderfully soft and lustrous. And if you have an unrelenting dandruff problem, it should get sorted too.
Not just that, ghee also improves food absorption, lubricates the connective tissue and joints, strengthens the nervous system, improves memory, and enhances immune function.
I love adding ghee to soups and rice, makes it so flavourful. You can even cook with ghee.
Ayurveda advises that you oil massage your skin before bathing, especially during colder months.
Daily massage is not possible in the real world. But you can give yourself a full body massage once a week. Or even treat yourself to a spa day.
Massaging nourishes and tones your body, calms your mind and increases radiance of the skin.
Plan to spend at least 10 minutes massaging the entire body after coating it in oil, and then resting for at least 10 minutes before washing the oil off.
Oils for massage:
Tip: Those of you will very dry hair, just spray some water on your hair (or lightly damp your hair), then apply oil. This will help the oil penetrate deeper inside.
Dry, dull and fly-away hair is a common problem in autumn and winter months.
Applying ginger & sesame oil mask to hair will help prevent dryness as well as reduce hair shedding. Odd yet effective, it will also diminish dandruff and flaky scalp.
You can also try this moisturising Avocado Hair Mask:
Take 1 avocado, 3 tablespoon yoghurt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Scoop out avocado flesh, and put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until you have a smooth mixture. Apply this mixture on your scalp and hair. Put on a shower cap or wrap your hair in an old cloth/towel and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then wash as usual.
You may also enjoy: Top 3 Hair Masks for Dry and Damaged Hair
High levels of emotional or mental stress can derange Vata.
Exercise is an effective stress-busters. Studies show that people who exercise regularly tend to have an increased release of happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.
Exercise also keeps your skin and hair glowing by boosting circulation and unblocking clogged pores.
Choose the type of exercise that makes you feel good and gives you energy without exhausting you. This is what ayurveda suggests – when you are feeling tired just stop, take a break, then resume the activity.
Any form of exercise is better than no exercise. Be it is walking, jogging, dancing, tai chi, yoga, or Pilates – have fun moving your body.
Take some extra care of your hair and body, and enjoy the beautiful spectrum of colours this autumn.
What do you do to banish autumn dryness? Share in the comment box below!
You may also enjoy: 11 Ways to turn Your Dry Hair into a Silky-Soft Mane