Your skin has a strong tendency toward dryness and also has a tendency toward both extreme heat and cold, much like the high Desert climate
Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification: Bwh, Bwk
Your skin has a strong tendency toward dryness. It also has a tendency toward both extreme heat and cold, much like the high desert climate found in the Mojave.
Desert climates have extreme fluctuation in daily temperatures, strong seasonal winds, and generally clear skies. Winter temperatures can drop as low as -13°C (8°F) and rise as high as 48°C (119°F) in the summer with humidity below 40% most of the year. The wind is also a prominent feature in desert climates with dry winds in excess of 25 mph throughout much of the year. Cities with desert climates include Phoenix, Arizona and Lima, Peru.
Similarly, your skin tends to be consistently dry throughout the year and is prone to both heat and coolness. Furthermore, like the extreme temperature fluctuation and dry winds of the Mojave climate, your sensitive skin is susceptible to its own extremes in the form of dryness and inflammation.
Desert type skin has a strong tendency toward dryness, irritation, and inflammation. When irritated, this skin type may become red and flaky. Products with an alcohol base may be irritating. The skin is at risk for development of sun-induced skin damage and skin cancers with chronic sun exposure in those with lighter skin.
Products and Ingredients
Balancing products and ingredients
The Desert skin type is overall very dry and fluctuates in extremes to either cold or hot. The key factor in your skin care routine to promote balance should be hydration. The drier your skin becomes, the more susceptible it will be to irritation and inflammation. By keeping your skin barrier well protected and moisturized, your skin will be more resistant to large fluctuations in changing climates. Secondly, protection against sun damage is vital to your skin’s health. Your skin (particularly lighter skin tones) is especially susceptible to sun-induced signs of aging, like dark spots and wrinkles. Examples of products and ingredients that are balancing and well tolerated by the Desert skin type are highly dependent on environment and time of the year:
Almond oil - this is very soothing, healing, and moisturizing for the Desert skin type’s dry and sensitive qualities. It is high in vitamin E, which is especially protective for the Desert skin type’s sensitive qualities.
Avocado oil - avocados consist mainly of healthy monounsaturated fats, and when applied topically to the skin, avocado oil has anti-inflammatory, healing, and UV protection properties. People with the Desert skin type find this oil extremely soothing when a small amount is applied at bedtime, especially during colder months.
Moisturizer - your skin is easily inflamed and almost always dry. It is essential that you find a hydrating and gentle moisturizer and use in both morning and night. If your skin is still dry with a lotion, try switching to a heavier cream or ointment.
Soap-free facial cleansers – the Desert skin type is very dry and easily inflamed, so avoid cleansers with any harsh or drying soap ingredients. Cleansing oils are a great choice.
Sunscreen - protection against the sun is essential for the Desert skin type! Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day on all areas of exposed skin to avoid skin cancers and premature signs of aging. Physical sunscreens are preferred over chemical sunscreens as the Desert Skin Type can be sensitive to many chemicals.
Aggravating products and ingredients
The Desert skin type is equality sensitive and dry, so drying products and ingredients can be irritating. It is important to ensure adequate hydration and anything that removes hydration can irritate the skin. Products containing harsh chemicals and fragrances will most likely make your skin lose luster and develop dry and irritated patches. Avoid any product that makes your skin feel tight or look flaky. Examples of products and ingredients that should be avoided in your skin type include:
Products containing astringents and/or alcohol-based products - toners are one example of products that tend to act as an astringent are usually much too drying for the Desert skin type.
Gel based products should be carefully used - alcohol heavy products can dry the skin
Emulsifiers - thinner moisturizers will use stronger emulsifiers to help get the oil and water components of the product to mix. If a product is thinner, such as a lotion, they typically need more emulsifiers that can irritate the skin.
Soaps - most cleansers will be too drying for your skin type and will strip your skin of its important natural oils.
Harsh exfoliants – chemical exfoliants and mechanical exfoliants containing abrasive beads or gritty materials can sting when applied to our skin and be exceptionally irritating to your skin type, leading to inflammation, and further imbalance.
Chemical fragrances and essential oil fragrances may be harsh on the skin. Essential oils should be diluted within copious amounts of carrier oils if they are to be used.
Acids - Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid, may be irritating to your skin type if used too frequently or in too high of a concentration.
Bathing and Washing
Balancing bathing and washing habits
The Desert skin type is naturally on the dry side. Your skin will best benefit from daily bathing with a gentle cleanser. You should try to shower in mild temperatures similar to your body’s own temperature since extremes in temperature can aggravate your skin. Choose a facial cleanser that is very gentle and hydrating to ensure you are not overly drying your skin with cleansing and bathing.
Aggravating bathing and washing habits
Soaps are too harsh for the Desert skin type and should be minimized. Traditional bar soaps have chemicals that are too harsh for the skin although oil-based soaps may be better tolerated. Since your skin can tend toward extremes of either hot or cold, you should never take hot or cold showers and baths. Prolonged hot showers will make your sensitive skin even warmer and inflamed. On the other hand, very cold showers may lead to flaking and cracking. This can be avoided by taking medium to lukewarm showers and baths. You should also avoid strong cleansers that contain drying chemicals like salicylic acid since they are likely much too drying for your skin type.
Balancing foods and beverages
The Desert skin type should carefully adjust their diet based on climate and temperature. Eating overall cooling meals and beverages during warm months will help bring your skin into balance while eating warming foods during cold months will also be best for your skin type. You should incorporate moisture-rich foods into your meals year-round to help bring your tendency towards dryness into balance. Examples of balancing foods and beverages for the Desert skin type include:
Eat cooling foods: fruit smoothies, melons, zucchini, sweet berries, mushrooms, and cool beverages (although too cold may be too unbalancing).
Smooth and hydrating foods: lightly fermented and sweet yogurt, puddings, and avocados.
Warming foods - hot cereals, warm teas, cooked vegetables and grains
Hearty complex carbohydrates, raw nuts, and seeds - hot cereals (eg. oatmeal), root vegetables (eg. butternut squash and yams), cooked grains (eg. quinoa and brown rice), raw nuts (eg. walnuts), mangoes, and pasta
Eat hydrating foods year round. Examples of hydrating foods include cucumbers, celery, grapefruit, oranges, watermelon, grapes, vegetable soups, and stews.
Aggravating foods and beverages
The dry Desert skin type should always avoid drying foods. In addition, you should avoid foods that are extreme in temperature of either very hot or very cold.
During warmer months, avoid hot, spicy, and pungent foods including onions, chilies, garlic, cayenne, radishes, pepper, and hot soups and beverages (lukewarm foods and beverages are okay).
During cooler months, avoid very cold smoothies, popsicles, and ice cold beverages.
Avoid drying foods in excess: raw cruciferous vegetables (eg. kale, cabbage, and broccoli), popcorn, chips, crackers, and beans. These drying foods should be paired with more hydrating and moisture-rich foods, such as squashes and zucchinis, to reduce the drying effects of these foods.
Stimulants - caffeine in excess and nicotine
Activities and Exercise
Balancing activities and exercise
As with all skin types, the Desert skin type benefits greatly from regular exercise. You should opt for methods of exercise that vary regularly and are seasonal in nature. Since you are also very prone to dryness, you need to be well hydrated before, during, after any exercise. You will be particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke if you run out of water and don’t wear sun protective clothing. If you haven’t discovered the exercise that fits best with your lifestyle, see the following list of activity ideas that are balancing for Desert skin types:
Swimming, but avoid pools and bodies of water that are too cold.
Hiking in cool early mornings or dusk
Cycling or running indoors
Steam rooms for short periods of time are okay
Cycling (indoor is okay and should be avoided in very hot climates)
Slower-paced cardiovascular activities
Aggravating activities and exercise
Any activity that makes you excessively sweaty without adequate hydration should be avoided. Overdoing an exercise to the point that it begins to wear you down is extremely disruptive to your skin type and overall well-being. Activities that repeatedly dilate your facial blood vessels will increase your risk of developing rosacea. Your skin tends toward extreme dryness, which is why very high intensity or prolonged workouts in hot environments could lead to dehydration and increased skin dryness. Here are examples of exercises and activities that are best avoided in your skin type:
Hiking in bright sunshine and heat, especially if there is no shade or you do not wear sun protective clothing.
Heated styles of yoga, such as Bikram yoga are too hot for your skin type and should be avoided to avoid exacerbation of skin conditions.
Saunas and steam rooms in the warm and hot months although they may be helpful in moderating in cooler months.
Exercise routines should be discussed with a physician first to ensure that you are fit enough to engage in exercise.
Temperate climates such as seen in Mediterranean and Oceanic climates tend to bring both the dry and irritable tendencies in your skin into balance. People with this skin type should seek to balance their mostly cool and dry skin tendencies with warm, humid environments. Summer weather in Dublin, Ireland and London, England are examples of good matches for your skin.
Your skin is like a tinderbox when in an arid and hot climate as it can explode with dryness or break out with eczema. Per the law of opposites, people with this skin type should avoid living in high desert climate cities such as Death Valley, California, and Cairo, Egypt. Hot and cold desert weather can lead to a greater imbalance in the dry and irritable tendencies in your skin. A moisturizing sunscreen can help protect your skin from the sun and dryness, but be careful if the sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen as chemical sunscreens may be irritating. While the hot and humid climates of cities in the Maldives and Singapore can balance your cool and dry skin, long exposure to these environments can sometimes increase the sensitivity of your skin and can lead to breakouts.
Ayurveda is a health system that is from India and is over 5000 years old. The basic concept in Ayurveda is that each person can either be in balance or have imbalances. Everyone has the potential to balance their body and their skin if they can pay attention to their imbalances and their skin’s natural tendencies. Imbalances are described by the Ayurvedic concepts of the doshas which describe three unique physiological building blocks for the body and skin. These doshas are known as vata, pitta, and kapha. Ayurveda is a practical approach to skin care. Learn more about how Ayurveda works and what makes up the doshas.
Imbalances in the doshas
The Desert skin type is associated with a major imbalance in the Vata dosha and a minor imbalance in the Pitta dosha. Imbalances in the Kapha dosha may be present too although they are typically less than the imbalances in Vata and Pitta. Vata governs movement and thinking and Pitta represents transformation and metabolism in the body. Both doshas affect the skin in different ways. Vata controls sensation, pliability, and the movement of water. Heat, vitamin D production, and skin radiance are all controlled by Pitta.
Each dosha is made up of 2 of the 5 elements (air, space, fire, water, and earth.) Vata is made up of the air and ether elements, which account for the skin dryness that can occur. Pitta is made up of fire and water, as seen with the occasional hot inflammation and slight wet oiliness in the skin for this skin type. In the Desert skin type, there is much more of the fire element and less of the water element and this leads to much more inflammatory tendencies than oily tendencies. Vata is associated with irregularity, so it is not uncommon for this skin to change between dry to irritation at various times and can easily become irritated with a slight change in climate.
How are the doshas influenced?
Cold and dry qualities exacerbate Vata as can happen with cold, dry climates and raw vegetables. Vata is also heavily influenced by daily routine. If there is a lot on your plate and you are sleeping at different times each day, you may be contributing to a Vata imbalance and this can also lead to anxiety and insomnia. The elements of space and ether are cool, light and dry, and when out of balance can cause dry skin and wrinkle formation. Anything hot and wet can exacerbate Pitta, whereas anything cooler and slightly dry can calm Pitta. Sun exposure, spicy food, hot and humid weather, and increased stress or anger are all considered heating and can contribute to skin sensitivity seen with excess Pitta. Fire and air can exacerbate each other which is why dryness in this skin type can also be associated with inflammation, as seen with red chapped skin in the winter
What the skin says about the rest of your body
Skin manifestations may reflect underlying issues in an individual. Stress, in particular, exacerbates Vata and Pitta. Those who pick at their skin, hair, and nails may be experiencing an imbalance in these doshas. Lack of sleep which can be seen in a Vata imbalance can also lead to skin aging.
Vata imbalance can occur with cold and raw foods, as well as those with astringent, spicy and bitter tastes. Adequate water intake is extremely important to ensure your skin is well hydrated. Warm cooked foods are ideal for balancing Vata. One way to balance Pitta is to avoid spicy, sour and pungent foods. Spicy and hot foods, in particular, can increase flushing in the skin and worsen rosacea. Learn more about Pitta and Vata balancing foods.
Take care of your skin, body, and mind from an Ayurvedic perspective
Managing stress is very important for this skin type given the effect of stress on Pitta and Vata. Grounding activities, a consistent routine, and meditation are very beneficial for this personality type as they help balance Vata and the erratic nature of this skin type. Oil massage with a nourishing oil such as coconut oil can help with skin dryness.
Those with the Desert skin type tend to be creative individuals and they also have the drive to follow through on their ideas. However, they tend to have more ideas than they can execute and need help with organization (either from others or with planning tools). Those with this personality type may go between knowing what they want and doing everything to achieve their goal, to not finishing a project before jumping to the next.
Since these individuals can often get caught up in their thoughts and worry, they can seem like they forget the world around them and this can affect their friendships and relationships. Although they may become upset easily, they are also quick to forgive and forget. During stressful times they can be easily thrown off balance and lose focus for even the simplest activities. If care is not taken to maintain a balanced routine and structured breaks, this personality type can struggle with anxiety, insomnia, anger, impatience, and burnout.
People with your skin type tend to especially reflect stressful circumstances in the skin. For instance, you may notice in times of public speaking or severe worry you feel your face become hot and red.