I expect to get schooled on a number of topics during my yoga classes, but a yoga instructor that can offer beauty tips following my downward dog transcends into a whole new level of training. Imagine my delight when, after a sunrise yoga class in the middle of the Mojave Desert, my instructor offered up a skin refresher to all of her “New Yorkers who must travel back to their damp, East Coast winter.” You might be tempted to simply load up on lotion when your skin is chapped from the whipping wind, but, she cautioned, “do not stop exfoliating — for optimal health for your skin, as well as your immune system, and your mind.”
A key concept in Ayurvedic Philosophy, which is an elaborate medicinal science that strives to balance the body through elemental energies, exfoliation can aid in detoxification by stimulating the skin and eliminating toxins through the removal of the top layer of dead cells. Raking a dry brush or a gritty scrub across my winterized face seems like self-inflicted violence, but facialists promise that it’s a way to heal and also prevent further chapping by allowing nutritious topical elements to be easily absorbed, and by improving circulation. That means all that H20 you chug will actually be more visible on the skin’s surface.
Ayurvedic beauty treatments are gentle and natural—my yoga instructor warned against chemical peels and other harsh treatments in the dead of winter. “I usually only put on my skin what I can put in my mouth,” she noted. She suggested dry-brushing with a natural bristle brush or a loofah in order to stimulate the lymphatic system, which works optimally in winter, when you’re immune system needs the most attention. Look for facial exfoliators with small scrubbing particles like jojoba beads or sugar, and steer clear of larger, uneven scrubbing particles like apricot.
Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Gentle Exfoliating Treatment is crafted specially for sensitive skin (whose isn’t in winter?) with papaya and pumpkin seed. Combine exfoliation with your cleanser and try Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Facial Cleanser, which has silica microbeads and pore-shrinking orange extract.
If you’re not into scrubs, try an exfoliating lotion with salicylic acid, an ingredient that gently exfoliates, penetrates through oil, and clears debris from within the skin’s pores. Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion (6.7 FL OZ for $12.50) contains ingredients that alter the potency of the salicylic acid, creating four different recipe lines for different skin types—Type 1 for very dry to dry skin, Type 2 for dry/combination skin, Type 3 for combination/oily skin, and Type 4 for oily skin.
The mental part of my yoga instructor’s recommended regime comes in the form of meditation. “Any regular contribution you give to your body is healthy meditation, and a regular beauty regiment is part of the mindfulness needed in a healthy, balanced life,” she concluded.