When people discuss skincare, they’re most commonly referring to the maintenance of their complexions. But this is the body’s largest organ we’re talking about – yet oftentimes the rest of the dermis is left in the dust. Taking care of your skin below the neck is equally important to taking care of your face, and I might add that slathering moisturizer over your limbs can be just as luxuriant as lounging around with a rose clay mask on … Your body deserves more than just a cursory swipe of bar soap. Let’s begin:
Out with the old and in with the new! Exfoliating is the key to supple skin as doing so sloughs off dead cells which may clog pores and give the skin an uneven appearance. In my opinion, it’s also the most exciting component of the skincare process. I exfoliate roughly once a week, and my personal favourite ways to do so are through dry brushing and applying body scrubs.
Dry brushing uses a long-handled, natural bristled brush to remove old skin cells and stimulate the lymphatic system. To begin, strip down and stand in your shower (while it’s still off) so that you can wash away the dead skin afterwards. Start at your feet and use long circular motions, always brushing towards the heart. Also, be sure to take extra care around sensitive areas such as the chest. Shower and follow with moisturizer and you’ll be smooth as silk! With regular dry brushing you can de-congest not only your skin, but in fact combat illness and inflammation by flushing out toxins built up in the lymphatic glands.
While dry brushing may be more foreign, body scrubs are familiar to most of us. I love products that use ground coffee beans as an exfoliant: they smell amazing, and the caffeine helps to tighten skin, too. Sometimes I’ll opt for a scrub that’s sugar- or sea salt-based, or make my own by creating a paste with olive oil and either of the former. Rub your scrub of choice all over your body, let everything marinate for the length of a few songs, and then rinse!
This might seem like an obvious one, yet so many people neglect to moisturize on a regular basis. Doing so should be a part of your daily routine! This is especially relevant if you love taking hot showers (guilty), or if you live in a dry climate. It is also an essential step post-exfoliation, as it locks water in the skin, keeping all of your freshly exposed cells healthy.
After showering, I apply a body oil or serum to provide deeper hydration, focusing on areas prone to dryness (knees, ankles, elbows, feet). I follow with a thick cream like the Earth Tu Face Coconut Body Butter to seal in moisture. On days that I don’t shower, I still make sure to massage my body with lotion free from parabens, synthetic dyes and irritating fragrances, as the simple act of rubbing the skin helps to blood flow and break down toxins in the skin.
Naturally, the better your habits, the better off the skin on your body will be. Exercising – be it through yoga or boxing, running or stretching – and being generally active in your day to day life are crucial to skin health. Moving your body promotes good circulation, increasing blood flow and thus delivering nutrients and oxygen to cells whilst removing waste products. But make sure to switch those sneakers for slippers, too: rest is just as critical. During sleep, the skin repairs cellular damage and produces collagen, the protein that gives skin its youthful bounce. Moreover, both fitness and adequate shut-eye contribute to managing stress hormones. Almost everyone has experienced a skin flare-up (rashes! eczema! acne!) in the midst of a stressful situation, so I think we can agree one the obvious benefits here. As for nutrition, drinking at least two litres of water throughout the day and consuming water-rich foods (think cucumbers, watermelon – all of your fruits and vegetables, really) and healthy fats (nuts and seeds, and avocados for all!) will also help to keep skin succulent.
But remember …
Like all physical attributes, many of our skins’ qualities are products of genetics. Much of our cellulite, freckling, skin pigmentation and the like fall to DNA, and thus the best way to look after them is through acceptance. Honour your body and all that it enables you to do by taking your best care of it – doing what’s “healthiest,” but also listening to your own unique needs and treating yourself and your eccentricities with love, always.