How to Use Ayurveda to Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage
by Holly Kirk, director of spa services at The Canebrake
With spring officially here, more and more of us will be heading outdoors to enjoy the warmer temperatures. But, with increased sun exposure comes increased exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation. Thankfully, the practice of Ayurveda gives us tools we can use to help keep our skin healthy and radiant. Our skin serves to not only protect against trauma and defend our internal organs, but it also regulates body temperature and protects us from microbes and the elements. The better you take care of your skin, the better it’ll take care of you.
Skip harsh skin treatments. Avoid microdermabrasion, glycolic peels, and any other harsh re-surfacing treatments during the spring or summer. These treatments make the skin more photosensitive, therefore more prone to sunburn and more easily damaged.
Use oils to protect skin. Massage the body with oils that are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants. These oils will ravage the free radicals and ultraviolet rays that the skin accumulates. Keep in mind, different oils are best for different people.
- Vata skin – skin that is thin, dry and mature – responds best to sesame, avocado or almond oil.
- Pitta skin – skin that is sensitive with red undertones – does well with coconut or sunflower oil.
- Kapha skin – skin that is thick, cool and oily – reacts best to sunflower or safflower oil.
Take special care of sunburns. To heal a sunburn, use a mixture of turmeric, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and organic yogurt. The yogurt is good for regaining the acid and alkaline balance of the skin and acts as a cooling agent to immediately soothe burnt skin.
Use cucumbers for health. Cucumbers are an effective reducer of heat and inflammation that contain antioxidants to help fend off wrinkles, boost collagen and elastin, and protect cells from ultraviolet radiation. Either consumed or applied topically, cucumbers keep the skin cool, hydrated and healthy.
Avoid prime-time sun exposure. The sun is the strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so avoid sun exposure during this time as much as possible. According to Ayurvedic principles, this is when the pitta dosha is most active, which represents fire and water, so the day starts to heat up as the sun becomes stronger and reaches its peak.
Hydrate from the inside out. Consuming the rejuvenating Ayurvedic preparation Chyawanprash, which contains a tremendous amount of vitamin C, also helps to keep the skin healthy. Enjoy it straight from the jar, stir it into warm milk and ghee (clarified butter), or spread it on toast. And don’t forget to fill up the grocery cart with foods full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados.
Holly Kirk is director of spa services at The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in northeast Oklahoma. The Canebrake offers an Ayurvedic spa, yoga studio, an award-winning restaurant and more.