Hot Hot Heat:
Warming Treatments For Winter Beauty
During the cold winter season a dose of heat may be exactly what our skin and bodies need. Heating treatments can help support our skin through promoting circulation and pore-cleansing as well as help promote wellness through sweating and metabolic invigoration. Here are three ways you can incorporate hot hot heat into your routine this winter.
Facial Steaming is an excellent way to unclog your pores without having to extract them. It enables sweating out skin congestion and preventing a build up of blackheads. For those of us without blemishes, steaming can help increase skin moisture, mobilize circulation. Even the colour and tone of our skin may improve from this simple at-home treatment, as good circulation makes for a brighter complexion.
To do this, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil then take it off the hot plate. Hover at least six inches above, entrapping the steam with a towel over your head. Relax here for 5-10 minutes. If you have rosacea or broken capillaries, position yourself even further away from the steam (at least 8 inches away) and ensure you do not feel skin discomfort.
After facial steaming, it is important to moisturize to prevent dehydration. Even better, have a full evening of skin pampering: exfoliate before the steam, and mask after it. This makes for a mini-facial experience.
Contrast showers use alternating hot and cold water temperatures during a daily shower. This back and forth between extreme hot and cold bolsters circulation and helps build resistance to extreme temperatures. Temperature alternation encourages blood flow, which also supports healthy skin and metabolism. Sound uncomfortable? It’s actually invigorating!
Do this after washing and shampooing. Increase the shower’s hot water to make a hot but tolerable temperature. After three minutes, switch the shower temperature to cold. Leave this running for 1 minute. Repeat this hot and cold cycle 3-5 times. Finish with cold to constrict the vessels preventing prolonged vasodilation. You can modify the amount of time of the hot and cold cycles depending on your comfort but always maintain a 3:1 hot to cold ratio. Never use more than 1 minute of cold.
Warning: Contraindications to contrast showers include epilepsy, seizures, risk to pregnancy, cardiovascular problems, extreme frailty, loss of sensation, advanced kidney disease, and alcohol or drug consumption. Do not perform contrast showers after eating and always speak to your healthcare provider for individual guidance.
Almost every culture has a history of warm water therapy. From Finnish saunas to Moroccan Hammams, the benefits of whole body steam have been enjoyed for centuries.
Sauna therapy supports the removal of fat-soluble toxins and uses thermal stress to raise metabolic rates and oxygen consumption. This is why regular sauna sessions have been found to promote weight loss, reduce obesity and aid in lowering cholesterol. While the detoxification benefits come from the sweating mechanism of saunas, they are also rejuvenating due to increased circulation. Heating the body increases heart rates and cardiac outputs and research has found that regular sauna sessions can even increase exercise tolerance.
Sauna-use is not recommended if you faint easily, are pregnant, or have kidney, liver or cardiac disease. Also, you should always drink water beforehand to ensure adequate hydration and limit sessions to 15-20 minutes.
Kristen Ma is an Ayurvedic skincare specialist and the co-founder of Pure+Simple, a Canadian spa chain and retailer of natural beauty products.