Ever since I can remember, winter used to mean horrible dry skin for me. Even after I moved from the east coast of America to the warmer climate of the Gold Coast of Australia, my skin was still awful in winter. So dry that my hands and feet would crack and sometimes bleed! I tried using every type of moisturiser and every method out there (or so I thought). Until, at the start of last winter, my ayurvedic doctor told me to start doing daily warm oil massage in the morning, followed by a shower. Hmmm… That was weird, I thought. Put the oil on BEFORE the shower? I was willing to give it a try.
I started doing it every day and my skin started feeling amazing! Almost instantly, no cracked hands and feet! Hooray! Plus, it’s so nice and relaxing to give your self a massage. This winter has been the same as last, not a single painful bleeding crack on my hands or feet!
So, all you do is warm oil massage, followed by a warm shower (not too hot), using no soap, or I just use soap on the ‘essential‘ parts, then dry with a towel, and your skin feels like a baby’s butt. If you oil massage your hair, you can wash this out with shampoo otherwise you’ll have greasy looking hair. Make sure the oil is warm! Room temperature or cold oil has a different effect on the body.
The traditional oil to use is black sesame oil (careful not to use the asian style toasted sesame oil or the white sesame oil). However, I found that I like using sweet almond oil in hot summer months. In winter, I prefer the black sesame. Sweet almond oil is super greasy and doesn’t have as much of a heating quality as black sesame oil. Plus, sweet almond oil can be easier to find than black sesame. If you’re already a hot person like me, you don’t need the extra heat! Everyone is different though, the sesame oil is usually what is recommended. This bottle of oil costs about $10 in Australia and lasts me about 4-6 weeks.
Warm oil massage doesn’t take very long. Maybe an extra ten minutes max per day, but it’s so worth it! Ideally, I would do it every day, but I don’t always get a chance. Even if I can do it once every other day or even once every two days, that feels amazing too! I’ve stopped having to use as much moisturiser and I even get way less pimples now (lucky me, still getting zits in my 30’s). I still keep a bottle of mosturizer around for those days when the air is really dry and I when I haven’t been able to do my massage, but I don’t have to rely on it like I used to.
You can google how to do ‘abhyanga’ or warm oil self massage to get an idea of the technique or self massage, it’s easy… My baby likes getting a warm oil massage too and on days when it works, we do it at the same time. Then, we’re both soft all day! Warm oil massage does more than just make your skin soft. In ayurveda, it helps something called ‘vata’. I could write a whole blog post on that, but basically, if vata is balanced, then you are more focused, less overwhelmed and better at making the right decisions. In a way, the soft skin is more of the by-product!
Some other tips for keeping your skin nice in winter are to keep warm, wear socks and shoes, stay out of the wind and eat warm, wet, easy to digest food. It’s THAT easy! Try it and enjoy your new soft skin!