Many of us know the benefits of exfoliation in whisking away complexion-dulling dead skin cells. But it does more than that, says Holly Sherrard, education manager for Dermalogica Canada. “Exfoliating increases cell turnover to reveal newer, healthier skin cells, plus it decreases blackheads, minimizes hyperpigmentation and fine lines, and imparts an all-over healthy glow.” It also helps with hydration. “Cells transitioning from below the skin’s surface to the topmost layer bring with them essential lipids and moisture,” she says.
That’s good news for your face. And what better time than spring to bust out the exfoliants for the body and feet, too? If you’re planning on using a self-tanner, you need to exfoliate to avoid uneven patches (although simply shaving your legs will also exfoliate them).
Whatever you do, don’t take the word “scrub” too literally—especially on the face—because over-exfoliating will result in red, irritated, flaking skin. “Gently massage exfoliants into skin using light pressure,” advises Sherrard.
The beauty aisles tempt us with scrubs laced with essential oils, boosted with moisturizers, and using everything from natural pumice to jojoba microbeads to pulverized grapeseed for refining your skin.
But you can always go back to buffing basics and save some bucks in the process by exfoliating with a humble washcloth or a loofah. Mixing up an easy homemade recipe (like the one below) for skin-softening salt or sugar body scrubs will give you a little spa-at-home moment. And rubbing sand and oil onto your bod the way Brazilians do is about as natural as it gets.
Homemade body scrub
Blend 1/3 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup oil, such as sweet almond or grapeseed (canola will do in a pinch). Add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender for calming or lemongrass for energizing. Or, instead of essential oil, add minced ginger, which stimulates circulation, and a drop or two of vanilla extract.
May 2009 issue Best Health magazine