Rethinking Your Skin Care Routine on the Equinox
On March 21st, our planet experiences a biannual Equinox. This is the day the sun hovers closest to the equator. On this day, light and night are equal in length, signifying a shift in the seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, this shift marks the beginning of spring. In the Southern hemisphere, this day signals the beginning of autumn.
No matter your location in the world, it means that the seasons begin to shift. Whether subtle or dramatic, the landscape transforms. Birds and butterflies begin to migrate in response to the change in daylight. The path of the sun changes too. In some places, the trees and flowers bloom and poke their heads out of the ground. In others, the plants go dormant, and foliage drops to the ground. In the North, animals start to awaken from their long winter naps. In the South, they start to contemplate hibernation.
This change has an effect on us, humans, too. Studies show that seasons affect hormones, skin cell moisture, and even hair growth. Its time to look at your activities to get the most out of your routine. And, a great time to start to rethink your skin care practices. Most people notice skin differences throughout the year. Autumn being dry, our skin might feel void of moisture, and a little rough and thin. The heat of the spring increases oil and sweat. The result is in softer, oilier skin. And sensitivity prevails in the summertime. We face UV rays, bug bites, and rashes from poison ivy or poison oak.
Given this, it makes sense to shift your routine with the seasons. Yet, how many times have you kept on using the same products year round?
Consider these thoughts in times of seasonal shift:
Winter to Spring:
If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, "lighter is better". Spring, leading into summer, will cause the skin to produce more oil and sweat. For most people, this is a good thing, but for some, it can turn into a nightmare. Oily skin can become downright greasy skin. This might not feel so great, and can cause blackheads, build-up, and dullness. In some cases, it leads to increased acne. One positive is that sunlight destroys some acne causing substances. So some people see a reduction in acne as days grow longer. Just remember, too much UV exposure is harmful to skin cells. And UV is responsible for changes in pigment or other unwanted effects.
What to change:
Limit your exposure. Remember, sunlight boosts moods, improves sleep cycles, and increases oil production. It also raises serotonin, dopamine, and vitamin D levels. However, limit your time in the sun when UV is at its most intense. Get your sun in the early morning hours or in the later afternoon hours. Avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
Exfoliate regularly. Scrubs made from grain and bean flours like Ajara's are gentle, and safe to use every day. Do not increase the frequency of exfoliation too quickly. If you exfoliate only once a week, increase to every other day. After about 10 days, you can start to exfoliate daily. This sloughs off the old, dead, top layers of the skin, exposing newer, fresher cells. It allows your natural oil to flow out of the pores, reducing blockages. A warning: if you will be in the sun during peak hours (even though we told you not to), fresh skin burns more easily. Bottom line, don't exfoliate if you will be in the sun from 10 am to 4pm.
Summer to Fall:
In the Southern Hemisphere, the situation is quite the opposite. It is time to "add the layers". And we are not just referring to your clothes! Skin is drier, more delicate, and prone to cracking in the fall and winter. This is Vata season, which is dry, and cold, and the air is less heavy. Combat the effects of the season by changing your routine a bit.
What to change:
Limit your exposure. Avoid the blustering wind and cold that robs moisture and makes skin rough. Protect your skin with a natural oil to keep hydration levels high. Simply apply a light layer of oil to your skin before bathing. The bath drives warm water and oil deep into the skin, hydrating and nourishing as it goes. This protects the skin from the evaporative effect of the environment.
Hydrate with humectants. Honey, sugar and vegetable glycerine, are a miracle during the driest months of the year. They are a group of ingredients known as humectants. Humectants draw moisture from the deeper layers of the skin and bind it to the upper layers. They can also draw moisture out of the air, if it is available. Applying a mask or toner that includes these ingredients will help your skin glow! Just remember to hydrate yourself internally too, so that you quench the thirst of all of your skin's layers and keep your vital organs happy.
Apply a denser moisturizer. Once you have hydrated your skin, keep that moisture in your skin. After you've taken all that precaution you don't want to waste it! Rich creams prevent the hydration from evaporating into the atmosphere. Creams or lipbalms with ghee, shea, or mango butters make that water stay put in your skin.
Enjoying the seasons doesn't have to be rough on your skin. Taking simple precautions will keep your skin looking and feeling its best, year round!
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