Beat the Heat

Summer is a big challenge to your skin. It need not be so - if nature's cooling tools are put to good use

Wearing sunglassesSummer is mangoes, summer is holidays, summer is splashes in the swimming pool; summer is hair off your neck, summer is light, white clothes, and summer is also keeping your cool at all times.

Summer is a big challenge to your skin. It’s the season which ages your skin, is unpardoning when you go out during the day. It is that time of the year you need to give it the extra TLC. Sun exposure, wrong make-up, hormonal imbalance, genetic predisposition, health problems, smoking and medication all plot against you to age more than ever.

According to ayurveda, all of us are unique combinations of the three doshas or psycho-physiological principles: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is mainly air and space, pitta is fire and water and kapha water and earth. These doshas also govern the seasons of the year, with pitta, the fire element, ruling the hot summer months. This is why during summer we need to take steps to placate pitta to stay healthy and balanced.

Yes, you have read all about eight glasses of water to flush out the toxins and how they keep your skin looking clear in summer. What you could probably do other than absorb this information is also gulp down healthy quantities of herb or spice teas – with their skin-enhancing ingredients.

Cool it out

Check out iced herb and berry teas to bring your body temperature down. Peppermint, lemon balm, chrysanthemum flowers and lavender are among the top choices. Tea-purists can look at them as medicines. Cooling herbs like cardamom and fennel do their bit to balance pitta in our bodies. Agreed that iced drinks look inviting and make their presence felt just about everywhere in the market, but if we avoid them we would actually do our bodies a big favour. All these wonderful-looking drinks do is hinder digestion and possibly create toxins that lead to break-outs on the skin.

While we reach out to salads in summer instinctively, we can also help ourselves with sweet, juicy fruits like pears, grapes, watermelon and mangoes which nourish and cleanse. Fresh ginger, cilantro, mint and basil add flavour and aroma to dishes without aggravating pitta. So, if we go easy on garam masala and, instead, focus on these, our skin will not suffer break-outs or inflammation and our palates will not miss the gusto. If you aren’t allergic to milk, a glass of milk every day in summer should pacify pitta and keep it from drying out.

Sebum production in our bodies is increased by exposure to sun and this is why our skin becomes oily in summer. When combined with dust and sweat, it clogs the pores. Neem, a cooling herb, is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Neem soap is great for cleaning and cooling irritated skin in summer.

Cleanse your skin

Cleansing the skin, especially of the face and neck, in the morning as well as night, would go a long way in letting it breathe. For this one needs a non-soap-based cleanser that cleans, but doesn’t dry up. Despite the availability of good, branded cleansers in the market it makes economic sense to have home-made cleansers. It also gives the satisfaction of knowing what you have is 100 per cent pure.

If you have a dry-to-normal skin, milk and rosewater with oatmeal is a good idea; if your skin is oily, besan or oatmeal with a bit of curd [dahi], neem powder and a squeeze of lemon can prove to be better than most expensive soaps in the market. Besan is not just for baths for babies alone.

Essence of oils

Besides, massaging your body with cooling essential oils should help in keeping the heat off your skin. Oils like peppermint, spearmint, and lavender work well. Peppermint mist is especially wonderful for hot, tired feet.

If you look for herbal moisturisers make sure that what you pick up contains formulations with skin-friendly herbs like sandalwood, turmeric, brahmi, amla and aloe vera. However, one of the best and the easiest things to do is mix powder of rakta chandan [red sandalwood] with rose water and apply it to your face two or three times a week. This is probably the easiest face mask.It increases the resilience of your skin noticeably. For those who work from home, spritzing rose water from time to time on your face, or keeping cotton pads soaked in rose water on your eyes, does wonders.

Beauty routine was not only for Cleopatra. Also, there doesn’t seem much reason why one shouldn’t treat oneself like a queen, especially when it comes so easy. Besan, lemon, rose water, amla, neem. are all humble stuffing in our glove to punch summer in its face.

Grandma was so right about all of them. Any idea why we ignored her and waited for the rest of the world to give a loud okay to reach out to them again?


Eating the anti-oxidant lutein [found in dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach] can protect your skin against some of the sun’s damaging effects.

Fruit masks are easy summer treats. If you do not have allergies, they can be used everyday. Active ingredients in fruits will freshen and clean your skin.

If you normally use moisturiser everyday, you may find that your skin will benefit from a lighter, oil-free formulation in summer. Fruit masks are easy summer treats. If you do not have allergies, they can be used everyday. Active ingredients in fruits will freshen and clean your skin.

Say Goodbye to Prickly Heat

Prickly heat is a common condition in which areas of the skin itch intensely and often feel prickly, or sting, due to overheating. Also called heat rash, prickly heat looks like tiny bumps surrounded by an area of red skin. It usually occurs on clothed parts of the body, such as the back, abdomen, neck, upper chest, groin or armpits and goes away on its own within a few days when the temperature comes down. In severe forms, however, prickly heat can interfere with the body’s heat-regulating mechanism and cause fever, heat exhaustion and even death.

Prickly heat occurs most often in hot, humid conditions, but you may develop it in cool weather if you are overdressed.

Persons subject to prickly heat should avoid heavy garments and try to expose the affected area to air. Take a cold water bath twice daily and follow a few other easy remedies too.

  • Dissolve Fuller’s earth [Multani mitti] in water to make a thin paste. It should be smeared over the affected parts. When the paste dries, wash with cold water
  • Apply green henna ground in water on the affected skin
  • Grind leaves of neem in water and apply on the affected skin
  • The most effective remedy for treating prickly heat is to take a small piece of sandalwood and rub it into a paste on a stone with rose water. Mix a pinch of powdered alum to the paste and apply to the affected skin twice or thrice a week, depending upon the condition of prickly heat. Use a dusting powder.

Team CW

Gayatri Pagdi
Gayatri Pagdi is a Mumbai-based health journalist. Her areas of interest include emotional, mental and spiritual health.


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