Exfoliation for Healthy Skin

Are you feeling flaky these days? Maybe just dull and a little irritated? The change of seasons, and the ensuing shift in air temperatures and humidity levels, does a number on our skin. Perhaps you have noticed that the moisturizer you use in the summer just does not cut it come fall or winter. What we eat can change too, and guess what? Your intake of food and water does affect your skin. Fall brings more cravings for fried and processed foods, as well as heavier and sweeter foods. We generally crave fewer vitamin and mineral rich raw fruits and veggies, and we drink less water as we tend to be cooler and perspire less.

Here are some general tips:

  1. Use cooler water to bathe and shower; it's less harsh on the skin. Also consider a shower-head water purifier to reduce drying chlorine.

  2. Use soap predominantly in sweaty areas only: armpits, groin, and feet. Spare the protective acid mantle of the rest of your integumentary (skin) system. Exfoliation will take care of the majority of your skin cleansing needs.

  3. Continue to eat plenty of good veggies, even if cooked lightly, to get the vitamins, minerals, and fibers that promote healthy skin with a balanced rate of cell turnover.

  4. Continue to drink plenty of pure water-get your eight glasses in-more if exercising a lot! Coffee, chocolate, sodas, sugary juices, and caffeinated teas negatively effect hydration. Herbal teas can help, but you still need pure water.

Now, let's go back to tip #2: Only use soap on my armpits, feet, and groin? I couldn't! Yes, ancient Ayurvedic wisdom confirms as well, your skin is a part of your immunity and protection. If you strip it of its natural defenses, you will be more vulnerable and less balanced. Nourish and nurture your skin. Support it. Here's where exfoliation is important. I like the basic way best. Use a soft body brush, gentle loofah, or a rougher loofah depending upon the thickness and sensitivity of your skin. You can exfoliate in circles on flakier areas, but generally try stroking from the ends of your limbs toward your heart to increase lymphatic circulation and promote skin detoxification. Use an extension, handle, or a friend to exfoliate your back; also very important for those bumpy areas! Do this exfoliation daily before showering. If you have particularly dry or sensitive skin, massage olive, almond, or coconut oil into your skin before stepping into the shower or bath. Then moisturizer further after patting dry.

Just can't give up that yummy scrubby feeling in the shower? For you, my friend, I will concede the use of a scrub. If you have thick skin that is not particularly sensitive or tender, a salt scrub-consisting of a plant oil base, sea salts, and essential oils-is a good option. For those who just shaved or are generally more sensitive, sugar scrubs are a better choice, also in plant oils. Please be careful not to slip in the shower! These get messy!

What about chemical exfoliants and peels? Whether choosing from the natural aisle or the pharmaceutical aisle, or from your aesthetician, these products require no scrubbing and dissolve the layer of dead skin away. Using these on your whole being could be costly, but for the face they offer a good method. Again, you will have to try a few products to find the one that suits your skin and needs.

One more thing: FATS. Yep. I said it and I mean it. Don't kick fat out of your diet! Just change your sources. Fish oil, flax oil, hemp, oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olives and olive oil; these are all great sources of healthy and natural fats that your supremely intelligent cells will use to make beautiful, balanced skin. And, generally adhere to a whole foods diet. Processed foods sap the vitality of your digestive system and this will show in your skin. Eat real food, supplement when needed with antioxidants, minerals, and food fats, and glow from the inside out this winter season!

Ramy Mam