February 10, 2021 7 min read

Tips For Winter Skin Care Ayurvedic Skin Care

As I'm writing this post, it's early February and my city is gearing up for a snow and ice storm to last over the next few days. If you're anything like me, your skin is making it hard to forget that we are smack dab in the middle of winter.

Here is an incomplete list of some common winter skin woes:

  • dry, rough, flaky skin
  • cracked skin and lips
  • itchy skin
  • dull skin
  • puffiness in the face and around the eyes, especially upon waking

If you're struggling with any of that ⬆️, we've got you. Here we're sharing our top 5 tips for winter skin care, proven by modern science and by the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda.

Without further ado, our Top 5 Winter Skin Care Tips:
  1. Exfoliate: not too much, not too little.
  2. Find the right moisturizer (and/or hydrator) for your skin.
  3. Consider dry brushing or any form of lymph drainage.
  4. Stimulate circulation in your skincare products and in your lifestyle.
  5. Eat foods that balance Kapha dosha.

Exfoliate: not too much, not too little

While our skin has a natural ability to exfoliate itself, it's not always very good or efficient at it. Stress, environmental factors like humidity, age, and more play into your skin's ability to shed layers of dead skin cells that are no longer serving a purpose in the outermost layer of your skin.

During winter specifically, our outermost layer of skin will become dry and flaky as a way to reduce the amount of water we are losing through our skin. Although this is a protective mechanism, I think we all know how frustrating and uncomfortable it can be. In order to minimize the signs of dry, rough, and flaky skin, it's a great idea to incorporate some exfoliation into your winter skin care routine. It's just a matter of what kind of exfoliant and how often to use based on your unique skin type.

Fall and winter are the seasons where you'll usually want to exfoliate a little more often. However, it's important to note that exfoliation is one of those squirrelly skincare routines that's really easy to overdo. Most people use too much pressure with granular exfoliants (just let the granules do the work, you don't need to press at all!) and tend to overapply chemical exfoliants that come in serum form. Overexfoliating can be just as (if not more) disruptive to skin than not exfoliating at all, so it's important to learn how to balance what your unique skin needs.

Vata skin - dry, rough, delicate, and mature skin prone to variability - typically needs the most exfoliation, and that's especially true during winter time. Vata skin will do well with either our fine-grain physical Facial Exfoliant and/or our super gentle chemical exfoliant The Illuminating Tonic. Typically Vata skin can safely start exfoliating 3-4X weekly, preferably in the evening.

Pitta skin - oily, inflamed, sensitive, and acne-prone skin prone to redness and irritation - needs to be conservative with exfoliation. Using too much pressure with a physical exfoliant or overdoing it with a chemical exfoliant can cause irritation and disrupt your acid mantle. We tend to recommend The Illuminating Tonic as the best exfoliant option for Pitta: not only does it exfoliate but it also contains highly anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients that can soothe acne and reduce irritation, all in one! Typically Pitta skin can safely start exfoliating 2-3X weekly, being mindful of pressure used with physical exfoliants and quantities of chemical exfoliants used.

The Illuminating Tonic Mandelic Acid Serum

Kapha skin - oily skin prone to congestion and stagnation - typically does great with exfoliation and is the least sensitive of the three skin types. Since winter is Kapha season, Kapha skin typically craves regular exfoliation routine during winter. Not only does it help reduce the telltale signs of dry winter skin but the right exfoliating products can also improve circulation (more on that later) We've seen Kapha skin do beautifully with our fine-grain Facial Exfoliant and/or our gentle chemical exfoliant The Illuminating Tonic. Kapha skin can usually safely start exfoliating 3-4X weekly.

Pro tips: we always recommend starting on the conservative side, paying attention to how your skin responds, and then increasing usage only as needed. Also, we don't recommend using a physical and chemical exfoliant on the same day - alternate!

Find the right moisturizer and/or hydrator for you

We all know that winter skin is dry, but did you know that it's usually also dehydrated, and that those mean two different things?

"Dry" refers to oil content - our skin natural produces sebum in our oil glands, but in the colder and drier months, we don't produce as much.

"Dehydrated" refers to water content - we humans are up to 60% water. Our outermost layers of skin are designed to minimize the amount of water we lose through the skin, but again with the low humidity common in winter, our transepidermal water loss is usually on hyperdrive.

Keeping your skin happy through the winter months requires the right balance of moisture (oil content) and hydration (water content). Your needs for each are going to depend on...you guessed it, your unique skin type.

Vata skin - dry, rough, delicate, and mature skin prone to variability - typically needs both moisture and hydration in the winter - Vata skin is not producing much oil to begin with and then with the heat blasting, it's a recipe for both dry and dehydrated skin.

As for Vata-appropriate moisture in winter, we recommend our Vata Ayurvedic Facial Oil which is formulated to be richly moisturizing (but never greasy) for dry skin. It can be used by itself or mixed with a bit of our Light Facial Cream in the evenings for some extra creamy oomph.

Ayurvedic Facial Oils

Pitta skin - oily, inflamed, sensitive, and acne-prone skin prone to redness and irritation - also needs both moisture and hydration, but typically in lighter quantities than dry Vata skin. Pro tip: if you have Pitta skin and are noticing overly oily skin in winter, it could be that your oil glands are trying to overcompensate for the super dry air OR it could be that your skin is dehydrated and producing oil as a way to compensate.

As for Pitta-appropriate moisture in winter, we recommend our anti-inflammatory and fast-absorbing Pitta Ayurvedic Facial Oil paired with our lightweight and soothing Hydrating Gel. They can be used separately or as a dynamic duo in our Perfect Moisturizing Set.

Kapha skin - oily skin prone to congestion and stagnation typically needs the lightest amount of hydration and moisture that also promotes circulation. Why? Well although Kapha skin is naturally the most low-maintenance, in winter time Kapha will often notice puffiness and clogged pores that are quite stubborn (winter is Kapha season, so Kapha skin is typically most imbalanced in winter). The solution is the right amount of moisture to help soften anything impacted in pores and antioxidant and circulation-boosting ingredients to clear stagnation of lymph and blood. 

As for Kapha-appropriate moisture in winter, we recommend our circulation-boosting and fast-absorbing Kapha Ayurvedic Facial Oil paired with our lightweight and soothing Hydrating Gel. They can be used separately or as a dynamic duo in our Perfect Moisturizing Set.

Consider dry brushing or any form of lymph drainage

Here at Bright Body we are pretty obsessed with the power of lymph drainage. And winter/Kapha season is the perfect time to start a new lymph drainage practice. Why? This is the time of year when our circulation (of both lymph AND blood) tends to be stagnant. Stagnant lymph and blood can cause a whole host of problems: acne, irritation and inflammation, clogged pores, dry and flaky skin, dull skin, itchy skin, and more.

While we can address all those concerns with products, we also believe in the power of incorporating holistic routines like lymph drainage. Any lymph drainage practice - lymph massage, gua sha, or dry brushing - is great to do in winter, though dry brushing is especially a great choice. It's the most stimulating of the aforementioned 3 methods, and in winter our skin needs all the stimulation it can get.

We've written a super informative and helpful blog post all about lymph drainage including how-to videos and downloadable PDF guides. Check it out! 

Stimulate circulation in your skincare products and in your lifestyle

Speaking of stimulating the lymphatic and circulatory systems, winter is the season when our skin (and our bodies as a whole) need us to give it the gift of movement. Yes, lymph drainage goes a long way, but one of the best ways to boost circulation is through exercise - whether that means a brisk walk, a yoga practice, HIIT, a cycle class, or something else you enjoy - adding movement to your winter routine will do your body, mind, AND skin good.

We are also big fans of circulation-boosting ingredients for winter skin. A few of our favorite circulation promoting ingredients are green tea (found in our de-puffing Eye Elixir), manjistha and tulsi (found in our Ayurvedic Facial Washes, Ayurvedic Universal Toning Mist, and Ayurvedic Body Oils), and antioxidant rich plant hydrosols (found in our Ayurvedic Universal Toning Mist and Hydrating Gel).

We've written a blog all about exercising for your body type/dosha. Most people can safely follow the Kapha exercise recommendations in winter.

Eat foods that balance Kapha dosha

Whether we like it or not, the fact is that our diet has a big impact on our skin. Winter/Kapha season is, by nature heavy, cold, dense, slow, and wet. So when we eat foods with similar qualities, we are increasing Kapha in our bodies. That shows up in the skin as puffiness, clogged pores, stubborn skin issues that don't seem to heal or go away, and maybe cystic acne.

To support the products we use in our winter skin care routine, it's a great idea to eat a Kapha-reducing diet. Rather than getting into the nitty gritty by food group, I want to give you some general guidelines.

  • Emphasize warm, cooked, well-spiced foods. Minimize or eliminate your intake of raw foods.
  • Hold off on cold foods like smoothies, ice cream, and açaí bowls. Opt for warm drinks and desserts.
  • Reduce your intake of meat during winter, and when you do eat meat, opt for "lighter" meats like white meat poultry.
  • Increase your consumption of pungent foods like: ginger, garlic, onions, and hot peppers.
  • Increase your consumption of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Increase your consumption of astringent foods like legumes, quinoa, apple, pomegranate, and green beans.
  • Minimize your consumption of "heavier" foods like rice, pasta, wheat, and dairy.
  • Minimize your salt consumption to reduce your risk of dealing with Kapha puffiness.
  • Consider roasting your meals! Roasting is a very Kapha-reducing method of cooking.

Please remember that these are general recommendations for Kapha season! Everyone is unique and needs to be treated as such. If you'd like more personalized guidance for winter wellness, learn about our Ayurvedic Health Consultations here.


I hope this was a helpful and enlightening post! As always don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Until next time,

Gabi Day

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