Your skin, much like the steppe climate, has equal tendencies toward heat, coolness, and dryness. Steppe climates are typically found in the middle of continents and in the sheltered lee of high mountains. In these environments, the mountains block moist air from surrounding oceans or tropical climates. Cities with steppe climates include Reno, Nevada; Lhasa, Tibet; Aspen, Colorado; and Alicante, Spain. Annual rainfall tends to average about 10 - 20 inches, and there is not usually enough precipitation for trees and large vegetation to grow, except by rivers. In steppe climates, the temperature between summer and winter varies drastically. Summer temperatures can reach up to 40° C (104° F) with heavy thunderstorms, while during the winter, temperatures of -40° C (-40° F) are not uncommon and are accompanied by dry winds and drought.
Similarly, your skin tends to exhibit both heat and irritation along with dry and cool tendencies at different times of the year. Furthermore, like the steppe climate that is susceptible to extreme weather, your sensitive skin is susceptible to its own extremes in the form of both inflammation and dryness.
Steppe type skin has tendencies toward both dryness and irritation. While the skin is more prone to dryness in cooler and drier weather, it can also become irritated easily in warm or hot weather. The Steppe skin type is prone to the development of skin conditions that become red and irritated, such as eczema. Aim to use hydrating skin care products and avoid products that are drying in nature. The Steppe skin type is at risk of developing sun-induced skin damage and skin cancers from too much sun exposure, so it’s important to cover up when possible and wear sunscreen to protect this sensitive skin type!
Products and Ingredients
Balancing products and ingredients
The Steppe skin type is equally prone to heat, coolness, and dryness. With your skin type, you must pay close attention to how your skin is reacting to your surrounding environment and adjust accordingly. For example, in a cold winter climate, you may need to adjust your skin care habits towards ones that are more warming and hydrating. On the other hand, you may notice that your skin becomes more easily inflamed and oily during warm summer months, causing you to switch to lighter skin care products. Examples of products and ingredients that are balancing and well tolerated by the Steppe skin type are highly dependent on environment and time of the year:
During cooler months, choose heavier and warmer skin care products
Almond oil - this is very soothing, healing, and moisturizing for the Steppe skin type’s dry and sensitive qualities. It is high in vitamin E, which is especially protective for the Steppe skin type’s sensitive qualities.
Moisturizer - during cold months, your skin will be better balanced using a heavier and more protective moisturizer, such as a cream or ointment rather than a light lotion.
During warmer months, choose lighter and more breathable products
Jojoba oil – jojoba oil is cooling and closely matches the skin’s natural sebum (facial oil) and therefore can be wonderfully soothing to the Steppe skin type’s warm qualities.
Ingredient and products should be chosen so that they hydrate the skin without irritating it
Soap-free facial cleansers – the Steppe skin type tends towards being sensitive, so avoid cleansers with any harsh or drying soap ingredients.
Hyaluronic acid - products containing hyaluronic acid are especially beneficial for the Steppe skin type since they draw extra water into the skin.
Lactic acid in moderation - lactic acid, a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) acts as a chemical exfoliant and possess hydrating properties. Used in moderation, it may be a great chemical exfoliant option for the Steppe skin type.
Aggravating products and ingredients
The Steppe skin type is equally sensitive, warm, and dry, so drying or light products that are heavy with alcohols or water can be irritating. It is important to ensure adequate hydration. Products containing harsh chemicals and fragrances will most likely make your skin lose luster and develop annoying dry 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 Steppe skin type.
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 containing alpha-hydroxy acids and mechanical exfoliants containing abrasive beads or gritty materials can be exceptionally irritating to your skin type, leading to inflammation, and further imbalance.
Fragrances - chemical fragrances can be irritating but essential oils should be used carefully as well since they may irritate the skin too
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.
Retinoids - retinoids such as retinol or tretinoin can be irritating and should be introduced into skin care regimens slowly and then built up to allow time for the skin to adjust
Bathing and Washing
Balancing bathing and washing habits
The Steppe 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 lukewarm or warm (rather than hot) water temperatures during warm months when your skin is especially warm or inflamed. since your skin usually very warm year-round. Warmer water is better tolerated in the cooler months. Choose a facial cleanser that is very gentle and hydrating to ensure you are not overly drying your skin with bathing.
Aggravating bathing and washing habits
Since your skin is already very warm, you should never take hot showers and baths. Prolonged hot showers will make your sensitive skin even warmer and inflamed. This can be avoided by taking cool and soothing showers. You should also avoid strong cleansers that contain drying chemicals like salicylic acid since they are likely much too drying for your skin type. Because your skin is a mix of sensitive and dry tendencies, soaps need to be used sparingly and opt for oil-based cleansers or you can skip the soap altogether except for areas of more build-up such as the armpits and groin.
Balancing foods and beverages
Just like how you have to adjust your skin care routine, people with the Steppe skin type may also have to slightly adjust their diet according to the season. 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. Since you tend to be dry, you should incorporate hydrating and wet foods into your diet year round. Examples of balancing foods and beverages for the Steppe skin type include:
Eat cooling foods: fruit smoothies, fruit popsicles, melons, zucchini, sweet berries, mushrooms, and cool beverages (although too cold may promote your skin to be too dry).
Smooth and hydrating foods: lightly fermented and sweet yogurt, puddings, and avocados.
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.
The dry, cool, and warm Steppe skin type should always minimize eating drying foods. In addition, you should avoid warming foods during the warm summer months and cooling foods during cold winter months.
During warmer months, avoid hot and spicy foods, including chilies, cayenne, radishes, pepper, and hot soups and beverages (lukewarm foods and beverages are okay). Onions and garlic may be too pungent as well.
During cooler months, avoid very cold smoothies and beverages.
Avoid drying foods in excess: raw cruciferous vegetables (eg. kale, cabbage, and broccoli), popcorn, chips, crackers.
As with all skin types, the Steppe 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 easily prone to dryness, you need to be adequately hydrated before and after any exercise. If you haven’t discovered the exercise that fits best with your lifestyle, see the following list of activity ideas that are balancing for Steppe skin types:
Hiking in cool early mornings or dusk
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. Your skin tends towards being easily dry, 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
Heated styles of yoga, such as Bikram yoga, especially during warm months
Saunas and steam rooms
Exercise routines should be discussed with a physician first to ensure that you are fit enough to engage in exercise.
Temperate and humid climates, such as the Oceanic climate, tend to bring both the dry and irritable tendencies in your skin into balance. People with this skin type should seek to balance their hot summer tendencies with a cool and drying lifestyle, and their dry and cool winter qualities with a warming, hydrating lifestyle. This skin type works out quite well for Snow Birds who travel to cities with moderate climates.
Steppe climates and other dry and hot climates such as desert climates tend to lead to a greater imbalance in the dry and irritable tendencies in your skin. Cold and dry climates can also exacerbate the dry nature of your skin. It is best to minimize exposure to extremes in order to maintain balance in this skin type. Trips to Phoenix, Arizona in the summer and Mount Rainier, Washington in the winter are sure to cause sensitive dry skin. While warm humid climates, such as the one found in Freeport, Bahamas, can balance the cool dry nature of your skin, care must be taken not to be exposed to too much heat and humidity to avoid increased skin sensitivity and potential 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
This skin type is associated with equal imbalances in the Pitta and Vata dosha. Pitta represents transformation and metabolism in the body, whereas Vata governs movement and space. Heat, vitamin D production, and skin radiance are all thought to be mediated by Pitta. Vata governs thinking, and in the skin, Vata controls sensation, pliability and the movement of water.
Each dosha is made up of 2 of the 5 elements (air, space, fire, water, and earth.) Pitta is typically made up of fire and water, although there is more fire in the Steppe skin type. As a result, the skin is more prone to inflammation rather than oiliness. Vata, on the other hand, is made up of the air and ether elements, which account for the skin dryness that can occur.
How are the doshas influenced?
Anything hot 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 and acne seen with excess Pitta. Cold and dry qualities exacerbate Vata as can happen with cold, dry climates and raw vegetables. 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
When Vata is out of balance, one may feel a great deal of mind movement and not feel grounded. The elements of space and ether are cool, light and dry, and when out of balance can cause dry skin and eventually lead to signs of aging and wrinkle formation.
What the skin says about the rest of your body
The Steppe skin type has a tendency toward vata and pitta imbalances and this can be seen in other aspects of the body. One example is irregular bowel syndrome (known as IBS) which can be seen more often in those with vata-pitta imbalances.
Stress, in particular, leads to imbalances in both Vata and Pitta, making the Steppe skin type particularly sensitive to stress. Stress can also be associated with worsening of rosacea and eczema, which both have vata-pitta imbalances. Stress can also worsen Vata which can lead to anxiety and picking at the skin and hair. Lack of sleep which can be seen in a Vata imbalance can also lead to skin aging.
The key with an Ayurvedic approach to the Steppe skin type is to focus on foods that can balance both Vata and Pitta. 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. Vata imbalance can occur with cold and raw foods, as well as those with astringent and bitter tastes. Adequate water intake is extremely important to ensure your body and skin are well hydrated. Learn more about Pitta and Vata balancing foods.
Take care of your skin, body, and mind from an Ayurvedic perspective
From an Ayurvedic perspective, imbalances in the doshas, or the physiologic mind-body constitution types, lead to different issues in both mental and physical well-being. The mind-body connection is well recognized in many different healing traditions and is now being recognized more in conventional medicine.
A healthy diet, stress management, and personalized diet can help balance this skin type. Herbal regimens can also be of benefit. 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.
Those with the Steppe skin type tend to be both ambitious and creative. They have a strong inner drive. The introverts will be silent and dependable in getting the job done and thinking outside of the box to do so. The extraverts may have the ability to charm people to get behind their ideas. They can be both influential yet elusive to the people around them. While they are assertive and filled with ideas, they risk coming off as being aggressive or caught up in their own world when they are not socially interactive with those around them.
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. Much like how their skin can be unpredictable since it can become both sensitive and inflamed, they are the type that may be very “hard to keep up with.”
In terms of friendships and relationships, they can be dependable at times but can get so caught up in their thoughts that they forget the world around them. During stressful times they can be easily thrown off balance and can lose focus of their goals. 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. They can also get caught up in work or stress, which they may take out on those around them.