A few weeks ago, I got back from a work trip from Mexico with a pretty awesome tan. Yes, I was a bit sunburned and because I was only there for three days, the tan was slight. I decided I would go for gold (bronze) and amp up my tan with some sunless tanning.
As I was prepping my body for the tan, I recognized that I had a pretty extensive exfoliating routine for my body. It's a three-step process, that uses three different types of exfoliating: dry, wet, and chemical. These steps give me beautiful, soft skin even if I'm not tanning.
Let's start with dry exfoliating. Dry exfoliating is probably more commonly known as dry brushing. It's a technique that uses a firm bristled brush, which is swept over the skin in short, firm strokes. Usually, these strokes are swept upward towards the heart.
Dry brushing is considered by some to be more effective at removing dead skin cells than wet exfoliating (more on that in a min). Because the skin cells are dry, they don't cling to the skin when you attempt to remove them. You'll see the difference yourself because you will actually see skin flying off your body. It sorta looks like you're sweeping dust from a classical statue.
The only brushes I recommend for this are from the Body Shop and they are the long-handled brush and the short handled brush. The long-handled brush is great for getting your back. But, if you are going to decide on just getting one, get the circular one with the knob. It's just a lot more comfortable to hold for every part of your body. (Tip: Ask bae or bff to exfoliate your back).
This is the form of exfoliating that you are probably most familiar with. It's exfoliating while the skin is wet. Most of us probably do this in the shower or in the bath. The bath is probably the most ideal because soaking in a tub loosens the skin cells, which makes them easier to remove.
My favorite thing to use for wet exfoliating is the gloves. The Body Shop also has these, which is great, because you're going there for the brushes. But, you can also find them at pharmacies, like Walgreens or CVS. Of course, a no purchase option is a washcloth.
This is technique involves the least manual labor, as it relies on chemicals to remove the skin cells. The chemical is AHA, or alpha hydroxy acid, and is a skin care ingredient that I swear by for the skin on the face to soften fine lines and enhance the complexion. Of course, AHA does the same thing for the body. The benefit of a chemical exfoliating over the other two methods is that the result is more even. The more even your exfoliating, the more you skin reflects light from every part of your body.
Unfortunately, there aren't many body lotions (read: products in sizes 6 oz or more) that have AHA. My favorite is from Alpha Skin Care. The 12% AHA body lotion. 12% sounds like a lot, and it is, but the skin on your body is a lot tougher than on your face, so I think it can handle it.
Okay, Now that you know the techniques and have the equipment, it's time to do the routine.
I always begin with a dry brushing. This is because my skin needs to be super dry, so I can't start with wet skin or moisturizer skin. I always brush the skin in upward motions (not in circles) toward the heart just until the skin turns pink. Don't press too hard, or the skin with become pink before you have had a chance to really exfoliate.
Next, because I just lifted all this dead skin off my body, I take a shower and wet exfoliate. I use a washcloth because it's always there and ready to go, but the glove is more comfortable to handle, no pun intended. This step has no rhyme or reason, I just run the clothe or glove over my body until I can't anymore.
Lastly, when I get out of the shower, my skin is already begging for hydration, so I put on my AHA body lotion--everywhere. The reason I end with the lotion is that I want to remove as much of the superficial skin cells so that the AHA can do a really good job of polishing me off. I don't want to waste the brilliance of the AHA Exfoliating on skin that would have come off with a brush or washcloth.
And that's it! An intense grooming ritual that is spa quality. As I said, this is my routine before I sunless tan, so I usually do this the day before and sleep in the AHA lotion. But, even if you aren't tanning, your skin will look radiant and feel incredibly smooth.