During the heat of the summer, most people can benefit from a skin care approach that pacifies Pitta dosha. The exception is for those who find themselves with excessively oily skin all year: they may benefit from a Kapha pacifying approach, even in the summer months.
KNOWING YOUR SKIN TYPE
Vata skin is generally dry, thin, is easily dehydrated and is vulnerable to the influence of dry, cold, windy weather.
Pitta skin is generally ruddy and can be warm to the touch. It is prone to breakouts and rashes. Pitta types tend to have more moles and freckles than other skin types.
Kapha skin is generally more oily, smooth and thick. Kapha skin is more tolerant of the sun than Pitta or Vata skin.
SUMMER SKIN CARE
For most people, skin care in the summer should be cooling and nurturing.
- Try spritzing the face with rosewater throughout the day for a cooling and refreshing treat.
- Avoid being out in the sun during the harshest hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Wear a hat or visor when going outside during the day.
- Avoid hot and spicy food, which can immediately inflame Pitta dosha.
- If you are doing a daily oil massage at home (which Ayurveda very much recommends) you may want to switch to a cooling oil, such as sweet almond oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. Sesame oil is a more heating oil, which makes it excellent for winter months, but less so in the summer.
- Swimming is a wonderful, cooling form of summertime exercise, but chlorine and chemicals used in pools can be hard on the skin. Be sure to rinse off after your swim and consider getting a filter for your home showerhead. Swimming in chlorinated water can strip off the protective layer of oil that naturally protects your skin from bacteria and viruses. A massage with coconut after your shower can help replace this. Otherwise, be sure to use a natural body moisturizer after your shower.
A diet for healthier skin should include plenty of fluids—lots of plain, warm water (not iced) and also fresh (not canned or bottled) fruit juices.
Eat lots of green leafy vegetables with a bitter taste, like kale, spinach and Chinese cabbage.
Soups with fresh green vegetables are also recommended for the summer months. Remember that during the summer, as the external temperature rises, our internal “fire” decreases. Thus, our ability to digest foods can diminish in the summer. For this reason is it best not to eat an abundance of raw foods (or cold or iced foods).
Eat lots of sweet, juicy fruits. Ripe fruits are considered “cooked by the sun” and are fine to eat raw. In the summer it is best to avoid sour fruits, as sour increases Pitta. Many fruits such as apples, berries and cherries can be either sweet or sour, so be sure to pick your fruits carefully.
Avoid hot and spicy food, which can immediately inflame Pitta dosha.
Fennel and licorice are cooling spices that can be enjoyed during the hot months.
Caffeine and alcohol are heating and may increase Pitta.
Put “staying hydrated” high on your list of priorities in the summer.
It is especially important to use gentle, natural skin care products in the summer. For an extremely effective, natural skin cleanser you can make at home, grind masala Dahl (a red lentil found in health food stores or Indian grocery stores) into a powder and soak overnight in natural whole milk. Make a thin mixture to wash with in the morning, or make a thick paste to use as a facial mask or scrub. Rinse off with warm water. Do not use hot water, as hot water is harmful to the skin. As with anything you use on your skin, test on a small patch of skin first to be sure you are not sensitive to it.