Editor’s Note: In traditional Chinese medicine, the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe, including a person’s state of health. Elemental Herbology, an England-based skin care brand, bases its line of products around this philosophy. Using herbal extracts and botanical oils, the brand features products that not only promote inner harmony but are also 100% free from synthetic fragrance, artificial color, sulphates, paraben and mineral oils. Here, brand educator Whitney Campbell explains what role the five elements play in treating your skin.
The rhythmic pattern of the seasons alters what we eat, our energy levels, our mood, how we look and feel and, most importantly, how we take care of our skin. As the seasons change, so should our skin care routines. For this we can look to traditional Chinese medicine’s Five Element Theory, which, put simply, is a system whereby health and vitality is restored to the body by balancing the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. All skin concerns can be addressed utilizing the elements, and it is important to recognize that your skin symptoms can change as the seasons do. Utilizing the theory of the five elements can help to restore optimum skin health and radiance.
This element is aligned to the spring season and represents growth, germination and change. Spring is the time to “tend the soil” before “sowing the seeds,” and skin in this element tends to be normal to combination, so, we would want to purify and decongest any oily areas before infusing it with nourishment and moisture to obtain a healthy balance.
This element is aligned to the summer season and symbolizes outward movement, warmth, vitality and energy. When the fire element is in excess, skin can become excessively oily and congested. The humid summer months can lead to breakouts and irritated skin, making it an essential time to incorporate naturally cooling and soothing actives, such as aloe and green tea, as well as antibacterial tea tree oil to purify.
This element is aligned to late summer and is the element of transformation and harmony. It restores equilibrium and calms and centers the body and mind. When our earth element is in balance, our skin is at its optimum healthy state, but when it is depleted, our skin looks sallow, dull and undernourished. Use brightening and radiance-boosting ingredients like Kombuchka™ in addition to important vitamins like A, C and E, which protect the skin from free radicals.
This element is aligned to the fall season and is a great time to harvest and boost reserves. The perfect time to “clear away the old to prepare for the new,” provide skin with extra nourishment and target areas of concern, such as signs of aging. Focus on ingredients like vitamin C to reduce pigmentation from the summer months and ultra-conditioning macadamia and rosehip oils to soften, nourish and calm the skin.
This element is aligned to the winter season—a time to nurture, support and be calm. Water brings all of the elements full circle, and it is the seedbed of all life. This element helps to boost skin’s moisture when it is depleted by excessive wind, cold and heating. Replenish skin’s moisture during this time with an abundance of essential fatty acids, such as argan, sacha inchi and evening primrose oils, to instantly plump, nourish and hydrate skin.
Of course, to keep your body and your skin in a state of harmony requires a multifaceted approach that takes in all aspects of lifestyle, seasonal, dietary and hormonal changes, but beautiful, nutrient-rich skin care designed to adapt with your changing needs is a very good start!