If we’re completely honest, there was a time when we treated the skin on our body like an afterthought — simply slapping on some lotion that suspiciously smelled as if it was once a Bath & Bodyworks best seller. But it was only a matter of time before our skincare obsession migrated from the face and neck to our entire body, and now those early days are long gone. We’re bringing you along for the ride — because solidarity, sister.
And as our skin obsession blooms, we find it only fitting to talk about this key step that might be missing in your routine. Enter: Body exfoliation. Yep, that’s right — exfoliation isn’t just reserved for your face, it’s a game-changer on your body too. Your legs, arms, stomach, and elbows are all crying out for the TLC you usually reserve for your face. Take it from us: Once you add body exfoliation into your beauty routine, you’ll never go back.
Here’s why you should consider exfoliating your body: Because dead skin cells are never a good look. Although your body naturally sheds skin cells every 30 days, this cycle slows down as you get older. As dead cells accumulate, the skin becomes dull, making you more prone to trapped bacteria, clogged pores, ingrown hairs, body acne, and more. And to make matters worse, all of this makes it harder for your moisturizing products to penetrate the skin. Which means you could be wasting your hard-earned money on products that aren’t actually doing what they’re supposed to do. And that is not what we signed up for.
But when you exfoliate, you help your skin cells turnover — which helps with a whole host of annoying skin issues. Sloughing off dead skin cells cuts down on congestion in the skin, and coincidentally gives you that newborn-esque smooth skin. Why? Because as you remove the dead cells, you’re allowing new cells to surface and removing a barrier that blocks moisture from properly penetrating the skin. All of which means you can kiss dryness, body acne, fine lines, and itchy skin goodbye.
So are you in? Are you ready to commit to one or two days a week of exfoliation? If you are, you’ll need to learn the lingo of exfoliation.
The two most common ways to exfoliate the body are by using physical and chemical factors. Most of us are well-versed in the physical method (need we remind you of the glory days of the loofah?). This type of exfoliation uses body scrubs or the bristles of a brush to manually remove dead skin cells. And because the skin on the body is thicker than the skin on the face, it’s more resilient when it comes to more abrasive methods. For the busy multitaskers, this scrub exfoliates both your skin and scalp with a sugar-based formula. If you have sensitive skin (and a crystal-loving soul), this gentle exfoliator, made with crushed amethyst gemstone (yes, you read that right) is for you. But if thinking of where to put yet another product in your shower makes you panic, go old-school and use a washcloth, starting from your feet and working your way up in a circular motion.
Alternatively, chemical exfoliation uses alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs), like lactic and glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), like salicylic acid. These combine with lipids in the outer layer of skin, and dissolve the lipids so that the dead skin cells break away. A more satisfying way to think of this is that the AHAs and BHAs break down the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together.
If you’re a sucker for minimal beauty routines, a leave-on moisturizing chemical exfoliant, like this Paula’s Choice lotion, might be your schedule’s — and your skin’s — best friend. There’s no waiting, no clean up, and really, no commitment. Just rub in this lotion at night, and wake up in the morning with fresh, hamburger bun-smooth skin. It’s almost sorcery — but not quite. For an AHA/BHA combo that packs a punch, try this lactic, glycolic and salicylic peel pad, which is also leave-on but without the additional moisturizing component. Not only does the multi-acid formula banish body acne, it also balances oils and brightens dark spots. A multi-tasking exfoliant? Sign us up.
Let’s all be honest: Exfoliating our bodies is probably more necessary than we’ve been acknowledging. But if glowing skin is as important to you as it is to us — and it’s really, really important to us, right up there with breathing — start by adding exfoliation into your routine 1-2 nights a week. We promise that you’ll have no regrets — except, maybe, when you can’t keep your hands off yourself.