Exfoliation: The key to softer skin

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Never is exfoliation more important than during the dry winter months. Regular exfoliation of your skin, both face and body, will make such a huge difference in its appearance that you will wonder why you didn’t think to take this simple step earlier. And it is pretty simple.

A couple of years ago I got all caught up in an infomercial for Susan Lucci’s Youthful Essence. Fancy name: Personal Microdermabrasion System. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a nifty little handheld, battery-operated tool with a replaceable sponge cushion on it.

You apply the microdermabrasion cream ($29.95 per month, auto-shipped, and just TRY to stop it) to the sponge and turn it on. The sponge spins the microdermabrasion cream into your face, exfoliating gently as it goes along. You then ooh and aah and touch your face repeatedly while talking about how great it feels.

And it actually does work like that. Nice product. But when you combine the monthly shipment with my lackadaisical skin care habits, it didn’t take long for me to acquire a pretty large stockpile of the stuff - and my bank account was bleeding.

That is when I realized that the tool didn’t do one darn thing I couldn’t do by hand and was, in fact, a detriment. It seemed like too much trouble to get it out and clean it off when I was done and put it away. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

And the “microdermabrasion cream” was no different than St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub that I could pick up anywhere for under $5.

I keep the Apricot Scrub in the shower and use it after cleansing. Now, I have dryer skin than most so I normally use it two to three times per week in the summer and every day in the winter.

You just squeeze out a small little blip of the stuff and massage it (gently, gently, gently) into your face, paying a little extra attention to the areas that tend to get driest. For me, this is around my eyebrows and my nose. Nobody likes dry flaky skin on their nose. Looks like you didn’t clean up that last sneeze very well. Then you rinse it off and you’re done. Two minutes tops for the whole cleansing and exfoliating process. Then you touch your face repeatedly and ooh and aah about how you just saved 25 bucks.

Mr. Jelly Belly, ever the manly man, is not one to use “girly” stuff. Even when nobody would ever know that he did it. But he has wholeheartedly embraced the whole exfoliating thing. He doesn’t care for a flaky face, either. And thank God for that, because I can't always be around to lovingly pick the flakes out of his eyebrows.

So now that our face is flake-free, let’s talk about the rest of our body. Especially our legs. What a winter nightmare, right? You moisturize and moisturize and, still, the flakes keep on coming. Let me tell you why that happens. Because you haven’t EXFOLIATED.

When you apply moisturizer to dry skin, all you are doing is wasting your moisturizer on a layer of dead skin cells. So you want to get rid of that layer and moisturize the fresh new skin underneath. Makes sense, right?

So what’s the best way to do that? I like a loofah sponge, which you can pick up for just a couple of bucks (Target again), but a “rough” washcloth works just as well.

Just get the loofah good and wet and apply your body wash. Now, you can start using up those body washes from Bath and Body Works that you have piled up, but it works just as well to pick up any moisturizing body wash. Target (I love Target) has an aisle full of them, most under $5. They all work. I like Nutri-Oil, made by SoftSoap, of all people:

If you’re one of those odd people who shave their legs on a semi-regular basis, do that first. Then just proceed as you would when washing with a regular washcloth, giving a little extra scrub to your legs and knees - and for heaven’s sake, don’t forget your elbows. And your hands.
Now that you’re all clean and feeling tingly from the exfoliation, you’re ready for the moisturizing step. So wait right there…
Coming tomorrow: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize


midlife mommy said...

I used to use that scrub! Loved it.