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Shortening days and falling temperatures are heralding the arrival of winter across the country. It is a wonderful time of the year, full of holiday gatherings, crackling fires, crisp air, and for many lucky people in hill states, fresh snow.
However, winter is also the time when your skin shows dryness and loses the glow. The common problems in this season are dry and dull skin, an itchy scalp, chapped lips and cracked feet and hands.
Oils have been used for beauty care since ancient time. The Ayurvedic system contains thousands of prescriptions using oil. Beauty expert Shahnaz Husain will tell you about natural oils which will keep your hair and skin in the pink of their health even in winter.
Here we are referring to pressed oils like olive oil, sesame seed (til) oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, castor oil etc. They have been commonly used to nourish the skin and hair. According to ayurveda, sesame seed (til) oil is said to be good during winters. Sesame seed oil is light, free of odour and is easily absorbed by the skin. It is rich in nutrients and has healing properties too.
Olive oil, popularly called ‘liquid gold’, is the natural oil extracted from olives. Pure olive oil is fairly nutritious and popular for body massage, mainly to soften the skin and provide nourishment.
Olive oil contains many vitamins and minerals and can be used as a moisturiser during winter. Massage oil on partially damp skin to keep flakiness at bay. Add some lemon juice to the oil to get rid of itchy skin in extremely dry conditions.
It is also an antioxidant. Like sesame seed and sunflower oils, olive oil can provide protection from UV rays. For the hair too, olive oil is useful. Since it helps to restore the normal acid-alkaline balance of the scalp, it can be useful for oily hair with dandruff.
Almond oil is particularly beneficial for very dry skin and helps to relieve itching, soreness and dryness during winters. It contains fatty acids which help skin retain moisture. It heals chapped and irritated skin. It can be added to face packs for dry skin. Or, it can be mixed with egg yolk and applied on the skin to nourish it and soften skin texture.
It can also be massaged into the hard skin of elbows and knees. Almond oil is also very nourishing for extremely dry hair. For the nails, heat almond oil and massage the nails and cuticles (skin around the nails).
Coconut oil is probably the most popular oil for hair. It is said to strengthen the hair and make it thick and shiny. The application of oil with a light massage helps to stimulate blood circulation to the follicles and also softens hair texture. The hair should not be rubbed vigorously. Only the finger tips should be used, to actually move the scalp with small rotary movements.
Hot oil therapy with coconut oil is said to be beneficial. Heat coconut oil and apply it on the scalp at night leaving on overnight. It is said to restore health to damaged hair and prevent split ends. Coconut oil is also said to be beneficial for the skin as it soothes sun-damage and has a healing effect.
Coconut oil is good for treating wounds, burns and dermatitis. It also acts as sun block and moisturiser.
Castor oil is used mainly for hair conditions such as dry, brittle and damaged hair. It is thick and sticky so after application of the oil, shampoo the hair and rinse well with water, so that oily residues do not remain on the scalp.
In cases of excessive dryness, mix one part of castor oil with two parts coconut oil. Heat and apply. Remember to apply on the ends too. Massage the scalp gently, using only the finger tips. Move the scalp in small circular movements. This helps to stimulate blood circulation to the follicles. Keep the oil on overnight and wash the hair the next day, using a mild herbal shampoo. Avoid very hot water.
Apricot kernel oil can be used for skin care during winters. It is rich in vitamins A, C and E. It also contains fatty acids and is a source of unsaturated fats. As it is easily absorbed by the skin, it is used in many cosmetic products and also in direct external applications on the skin. It helps to nourish and moisturise the skin. It contains antioxidants which delay ageing and degeneration.
Jojoba oil contains vitamins B complex and E which help in skin repair and damage control, minerals like zinc and copper help to strengthen and keep skin calm and comfortable. Its chemical structure is very similar to skin’s natural oil so it is very easily absorbed in skin.