Self-care plays an intrinsic part of wellness, helping you to achieve the balance needed for mind and body health. When it comes to skincare, there is a lot of focus on the face, and not nearly enough attention is given to the rest of the body. Did you know that sensory neurons send messages from skin straight to your brain? Consider that your skin has “its own immune system and microbiome,” says Integrative Medicine Specialist, Tsao-lin Moy, founder of Integrative Healing Arts, who explains that “in Chinese medicine Wei Qi known as protective Qi (life force energy) is on the surface of the skin and just above it. Skin health is one way to diagnose underlying health conditions. Skin brightness and clarity indicates good health on the inside. That is why babies smell sweet.”
Here are some tips to integrate whole body skincare into daily life.
Tend to Your Neck - The skin on your neck is often delicate and sensitive. It is quick to show signs of premature aging, lose elasticity, wrinkle and reflect sun damage. Apply antioxidants daily to protect against free radical damage that leads to photo-aging, along with sunscreen. Choose a nutrient-rich moisturizer, and lightly massage in upward strokes to increase blood flow.
Kat Burki’s Form Control Marine Collagen Gel, offers your neck and face a toning boost. It is specially formulated with 14 Collagen Boosters, Algae Keratin, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, and dewy Silk Amino Acid Proteins to soften and discourage fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin Brushing - This technique is done with a stiff natural-bristle brush, and creates a gentle tingling sensation as it works its magic. “Great for stimulating the nervous system and making a mind-body connection, brushing helps bring blood circulation to the surface,” says Moy. What time should you try it? “Skin brushing is most beneficial before showering, as the layers of dead skin are gently exfoliated, and then will wash off,” says Moy. For details on skin brushing check out our Nourish article The Benefits of Dry Brushing.
Exfoliation & Cleansing - Releasing old skin cells to make room for the new, is a natural process. Since it doesn't always happen on its own, regular exfoliation is crucial for glowing skin, especially for drier areas, such as elbows and knees. “Our skin is constantly shedding, and some areas of our body will shed more rapidly because of washing, such as our hands. Exfoliating a couple of times a week helps to improve circulation and remove dead skin,” says Moy.
Always avoid chemicals that can leech toxicity into your skin. Choose products formulated with ingredients that nourish, yet are gentle enough not to compromise the integrity of your skin barrier.
Kat Burki’s Dual Exfoliating Clay removes toxins, and exfoliates with cranberry fibers and hibiscus petals, protecting the skin's surface. It is formulated with antioxidants and nutrient-dense ingredients including: arnica, calendula, lavender, chamomile flower extracts, aloe, shea butter, jojoba, avocado, rosehip seed, apricot kernel, and sea buckthorn oils; alongwith STAY-C, CoQ10, vitamin B-5 and botanical hyaluronic acid.
Sleep - Wellness always circles back around to getting enough sleep. Moy says it balances hormones, clears metabolic waste, produces growth hormones and helps with collagen production. When people get restorative sleep, it shines through their skin.” To take full advantage of slumber, in the hour before bed, take three-part-breath yoga to calm the nervous system, avoid blue light, and create quiet time without distractions”
Gut Health - your insides reflect the outside in myriad ways. Along with eating healthily, Moy recommends a “probiotic to help balance the microbiome in the gut, as stress lowers immunity, so the body is challenged with free radicals and metabolic waste.”
Care for Armpits - sweating beneath the arms makes this area more prone to bacterial growth (good & bad). The skin itself is sensitive, highly absorbent, and directly linked to your lymph nodes. Antiperspirants and many deodorants can actually alter your microbiome. Forego chemicals in favor of plant-based ingredients like tea tree oil, coconut oil and lavender. Colloidal oatmeal and honey, which are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, are also a good choice, together with citrus scents such as lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot, which are aromatic and naturally combat odor.
Moisture Rituals - For whole body hydration, Moy likes, “jojoba or coconut oil because it absorbs quickly. Calendula oil and lotion have wound-healing, anti-inflammatory properties and promote tissue regeneration,” adding that “Hands need to be moisturized because of frequent washing and post-shower is an opportunity to stimulate the skin by applying moisturizer. After washing, skin can get dry, as many soaps strip away the bacteria and natural oils that protect it.”
Try using Hand Therapy – A lush hand cream packed with vitamins, helping to heal and protect all skin types. It is formulated with KB5™ Complex, arnica, gotu kola, lavender, calendula and chamomile.
Massage - In addition to combatting the fear response, and relieving tension, massage offers an immunity boost. Moy says, “It improves circulation and lymph flow, and helps remove the metabolic waste that causes inflammation and pain.” After a massage in the evening, Moy recommends, “taking a bath to further facilitate lymphatic movement, and elimination of toxins.”
Try a hand massage, utilizing pressure points that correspond to meridians throughout your body. Choose a moisturizing oil, such as almond or coconut, scented with essential rose or lavender oil. Put on soothing music and decompress. See more detailed shiatsu instructions from Medical News Today, Hand Pressure Points.
* Skincare & Ayurveda Note - According to Nandita Godbole, author of ‘Seven Pots of Tea: an Ayurvedic approach to sips & nosh,’ "Turmeric is an all-round miracle herb, as is ginger. Both reduce internal inflammation, keep the digestive system in check, and the skin glowing. Good fats from daily consumption of small amounts of ghee, or nuts like almonds and walnuts, keep the skin supple. Saffron is warming and nourishes skin from within. Herbal brews can do wonders for the skin as they hydrate the body, provide antioxidants for good skin care, and can bring balance to ones’ gut and therefore, one's dosha. A healthy balanced dosha equates to healthy skin.”