Dare To Bare! How To Exfoliate From Head To Toe For Smooth Summer Skin
As the mercury rises, we naturally want to show more skin to stay cool, look hot, or both.
Hemlines rise, sleeves vanish, midriffs emerge, and that comfy turtleneck is banished to the back of the closet for another season.
So as skin emerges into the summer spotlight, here are our top tips for getting skin into primo shape for everything from sexy spaghetti-straps to scandalous sandals.
Footloose and fancy-free
After a long winter swaddled in cozy socks and boots, your feet may require a bit of prep before strutting in summer stilettos.
At-home options include exfoliating foot masks and peels to lift away layers of hard, dead skin These generally come in the form of disposable booties filled with a potent gel. Look for a pair containing the foot-pampering cocktail of lactic acid, glycolic acid, lemon fruit extract and papaya—the papain, or natural enzymes in the papaya fruit, literally munches away at the hardened skin, revealing soft, fresh new cells beneath for satin-soft steps.
When considering a professional salon pedicure, think hygiene-safety first, and be sure that yours is legit.
Start by checking that your nail tech is licensed.
Consider bringing your own mani-pedi tool kit to your appointment.
Alternatively, look for a salon that promotes single-use disposable foot files and orange sticks (meaning that they throw them out after one use), or find a place that uses a high-pressure, high-temperature unit called an autoclave to sterilize their metal instruments – or both.
Also check out the so-called “dry pedicure” now offered by many deluxe nail spas, where the bubbling “throne” is replaced by steamy towels. It’s luxurious, and super-sanitary.
Whether or not you seek out a pro pedi, give your feet extra TLC as we move into summer with a deeply healing foot cream—ideally one which gently exfoliates as well as hydrates.
Look for a product containing salicylic acid, because it “unglues” the bonds that make dead skin cells stick together.
Another go-to ingredient: safflower seed oil, brimming with essential fatty acids to keep feet supple and smooth.
It may surprise you to learn that our legs do indeed contain sebaceous glands that produce oil—only surprising because many people experience dryness from the knees down.
A couple of factors contribute to this, notably hard water and frequent shaves — especially if you’re still shaving with regular soap or highly alkaline aerosol shaving cream.
The latter were created decades ago for the faces of men, where skin is typically oiler than the lower extremities.
Instead, try a hydrating shave-lotion, and moisturize your legs daily.
As an alternative to the blade, a regular leg-wax may make skin more summer-ready because waxing also exfoliates.
And however you choose to de-fuzz your limbs, treat your legs to a weekly scrub, ideally before you shave if that’s your method of depilation.
By exfoliating first, you’ll get a closer shave (or wax) for a more refined finish, and prevent those ingrown hairs which really can kill the cuteness-quotient of that itsy-bitsy cheetah-print-micro-skort.
Suss out these skin-polishing ingredients: almond meal, pink Himalayan salt, brown sugar, honey and oats—good to eat, and great for buffing up your skin for a hot-weather reveal.
And a word to the waxed: don’t hit the pool or the beach right afterward. Even the most skilled hair-removal kicks up a bit of inflammation, so allow skin to rest for 24-48 hours before splaying yourself on the nearest cement slab as an offering to the solar gods.
And the torso, even moreso
In summer, we tend to skimpier fashions, but here’s the thing: wherever skin meets skin, there’s sweat.
It may sound sultry, but not when we’re just talking about you, your active sebaceous glands, and your polyester work-clothes.
Use a body-scrub in the shower, especially on the upper back, to prevent breakouts—they’re common between the shoulder-blades because the skin there tends to be oily, and the constant pressure of a chair backrest (if you’re pinned to an office seat all day) can cause oil to back up in those pores, leading to blemishes.
The elbows. The knees. Even if you associate flossing only with dental hygiene, our joints are crucial to getting around. Yet we take hard-working areas for granted from a beauty point-of-view.
Without regular buffing, the skin around the elbows and knees tends to get thick, rough and dry, and this accumulation of skin cells can quickly darken with sun-exposure.
The fix: exfoliate and hydrate, to even-out pigmentation and give skin a silky feel.
Check out a firming elbow cream containing exfoliating coconut oil, safflower seed oil, and linoleic acid which open up the skin to better absorb moisture.
A plus: regular exfoliation can also boost collagen production, creating tighter, firmer skin.
A call to arms – and above
Summer is the time to toss aside that poncho and rock the sleeveless.
You’ve had all winter to hone those biceps, triceps and deltoids. Oh, you forgot? So what?
Then just take care of what you’ve got with brightening treatments and sunscreen to erase dark spots, prevent new dark spots from forming, and give you an even glow.
For of-the-moment brightening, look to the past: today’s most innovative dark spot correctors bring together botanicals that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Extracts of ginseng root, ginko biloba, mulberry root, and kojic mushrooms work synergistically in the modern versions of these classical beauty treatments to lighten (and even tighten!) skin.
Ginseng, for instance, energizes tissue to support cell renewal and collagen production for firmer arms, while other botanicals in the mix arrest the production of excess melanin in the tissues, helping to fade dark spots.
Use a brightener on your hands, arms, chest, and neck as well as your face, since these areas are often exposed to UV year-round (and your face, of course).
Polish and protect
Summer means a couple of things regarding your face, neck and chest. You may be outdoors a lot, and this may mean more sun, more sweat, and maybe less makeup. This combination of factors means stepping up your facial care when the summer sun blazes.
Use a mild cleanser night and day that contains a gentle exfoliant like AHA Apple Fruit Extract, and use a stronger exfoliant with caution, once or twice a week.
To keep lips gorgeous and protected, first exfoliate gently with a scrub (you can even use a soft baby-toothbrush), then apply lip-balm with SPF 15.