Skin is the largest organ in the body. This skin, that is the covering of the human body, is exposed to various harmful elements throughout life. The sun, wind, heat, cold, dust, many kinds of pollution and other environmental factors like indoor air-conditioning, artificial fragrances etc., all take a toll of our skin over the years. Apart from the natural process of aging, it becomes much more sensitive and susceptible to infections and discomfiting conditions.
As we grow older, the way our skin ages depends on several factors – heredity, lifestyle, diet and individual habits. It is essential to have a proper, mindful skincare routine to keep it infection and blemish-free, supple and healthy. Skincare should not mean just looking after facial skin, but should include the entire body’s skin. However, it is the face that is the showcase and reflects the adverse effects of aging prominently. A clear, healthy and glowing skin is the foremost criteria of beauty. Fortunately, Indians generally, continue to have fairly smooth skin well into their senior years, because of our cooking methods. It definitely prevents extreme dryness of skin, unlike in the Western countries, where it is the bane of elders, contributing to the sale of humongous variety of creams, lotions, moisturizers, serums and so on. Which is not to say that our elders are not affected by the passage of time. The degrees differ.
Causative Factors and Symptoms
- Loss of fatty tissue between skin and muscles.
- Loss of skin elasticity and flexibility causes loose facial skin - around the eyes (wrinkles), cheeks and jawline.
- UV radiation, due to over exposure to sunlight, causes the skin to stretch, wrinkle and even become blotchy sometimes.
- Daily facial movements result in laughter lines, frown lines and worry lines over the years.
- Stress - yes, it has a negative effect on your skin too.
- Smoking can cause your skin to age prematurely.
- Certain Medications can cause very dry and itchy skin.
- Bruises, due to dry skin.
- Inadequate Water consumption.
- Poor Nutrition and Diet.
- Age spots – brown patches on sun-exposed parts like face, hands, arms.
Precautions and Basic Guidelines
- Do not stay outdoors too long during peak sunlight hours. Always use Sunscreen and cover your head. Though around 30 minutes of sun exposure is advisable for Vitamin D and Vitality.
- Bathe in Warm, rather than very hot water. Artificially scented, harsh soaps alter the PH balance, causing it to become more alkaline. Use mild, fragrance-free, Herbal soaps.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge, to apply soap or body cleanser
- Moisturize with a natural Herbal lotion after washing in the morning and at bedtime.
- Drink plenty of warm water, 7-8 glasses a day, as well as other healthy liquids. Important to stay well-Hydrated.
- Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet including plenty of vegetables, fruits, milk, curd, seeds, and nuts.
- Use a Humidifier indoors to combat the drying effect of heaters.
- Wear Gloves for housework and gardening.
Ayurveda Skin Care Routine
Internal - Diet has an enormous impact on the condition of our skin. It is very beneficial if you consume plenty of fruits, all seasonal vegetables-especially leafy greens, curds, milk, Indian spices like Turmeric and Saffron, nuts and seeds, and pure Ghee, as part of a wholesome, balanced diet. The ingredients and ghee contribute to inner lubrication, making the skin soft and nourished, not requiring too much outside moisturizers.
Ayurveda uses Herbs and other plant-based ingredients to regenerate and rejuvenate cells, in a method called Rasayana. These Anti-Aging herbs contain antioxidants that inhibit the growth of free radicals that damage skin cells. Therefore, you should include the following as part of your daily diet, either in their natural form or as a supplement.
Amla, Guduchi or Giloy, Brahmi, Guggulu, Ashwagandha, Gotu-kola, Ginseng, Turmeric and Saffron.
- Amla – excellent source of vitamin C and anti-oxidants that help our body fight diseases and also enhances the skin.
- Giloy – immunity-booster and memory enhancer, calms and soothes, keeping infections at bay.
- Ashwagandha – reduces stress of the mind and body. Helps in cell rejuvenation of the skin.
- Gotu-Kola – is an essential anti-aging herb, rich in flavonoids with anti-oxidants.
- Brahmi – helps treat stress and calms the mind. Also a memory enhancer.
- Ginseng – contains phytochemicals that help stimulate and activate the skin’s metabolism. They also help in getting rid of free-radicals that accumulate when skin is exposed to pollution and excessive sunlight.
- Turmeric – the compound Curcumin in it, possesses a powerful anti-aging effect. It prevents diseases due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
- Saffron - It reduces pigmentation and brightens the skin.
Ayurveda categorizes skin according to the Dosha or attribute of the person. Therefore Vata Dosha has dry skin; Pitta Dosha has normal/combination skin; Kapha Dosha has oily skin; and all-skin type is TriDosha.
The basic routine for all is – cleanse, nourish and moisturize.
Ayurveda advocates various home-made pastes or “Ubtans” made from herbs, flours, legumes, lentils, condiments and spices, nuts, curd and milk and oils.
Begin by exfoliating dead skin and deep cleansing, by using an ubtan made with Gram flour- Besan mixed with milk and a pinch of haldi with a little water. Apply and rub gently all over the face, arms, and feet. Wash off with water. Twice a week.
Similarly, a wide range of Ubtans like, ground almonds paste with milk; ground Poppy seeds (khus-khus) paste with almonds and milk; Fuller’s earth (Multani Mitti) with rosewater; Sandalwood (Chandan) paste; besan with curd; besan with Haldi and Mustard oil (Sarson ka tel); Oats with honey; ground Lentils ( Masoor Dal), with Haldi, Chandan, badam and milk; orange, cucumber and potato juice massaged on skin for de-tanning; and so on. Most of us have our favourite family ubtans – start using them again as natural face masks.
Moisturize and nourish, using natural oils. Use a base oil of either pure almond or coconut oil. In 1-ounce base oil, mix 10 drops of sweet Orange or Geranium Essential oil for dry Vata skin. 10 drops of Sandalwood or Jasmine oil for normal/combination Pitta skin. 10 drops of Lavender or Bergamot oil for oily Kapha skin. Gently massage on the face and neck with circular and upward strokes. Gently wipe off any excess oil with some wet cotton-wool.
The word for oil in Sanskrit is SNEHA – one of the words for love!
Give yourself an Abhyanga self-body massage with Sesame (Til) oil twice a week if possible. Or better, ask another person to do it for you. First pour some oil in your palm and massage your scalp, rest of your body, including spine and abdomen and both tops and bottoms of your feet. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes along scalp, abdomen, joints.
This massage ritual imparts love and deep nourishment to all parts of your body tissues, as well as your mind and senses. Ayurveda believes an oil massage purifies, nourishes and tones the body at a deep cellular level, along with making the skin supple and lustrous.
You do not need to use any body lotions or moisturizers afterwards.
Do please remember that Yoga too, along with its many amazing benefits, is contributive to glowing skin also!
Use natural ingredients and live in harmony with Nature. Become revitalized, healthy and happy.
IMPORTANT - Please consult a Dermatologist for common but more serious conditions like, Senile Purpura; Exfoliative Dermatitis; Stasis Dermatitis; Bacterial and Parasitic infections; and Benign Skin Growths. Also, chronic health problems, Surgery and certain Medicines affect the condition of your skin.
We, at Emoha Eldercare, would be privileged to assist you in any area of concern. Please do not hesitate to contact us. For us, it is always #EldersFirst.