Exfoliation kick-starts your skin's renewal system, removing dead cells and uncovering the fresher skin that's waiting underneath. So buff, scrub, and peel your way to smooth with these handmade remedies.
As you read this, your body's busy making new skin: "It takes a skin cell 28 days to move from the dermis, where it's created, to the top layers of skin, where it's naturally sloughed off," says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a New York City dermatologist.
Sugar is an inexpensive and relatively gentle exfoliator. This scrub's cloves, rose petals, and orange zest give it a heady aroma, while sesame oil makes it feel luxurious.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 1 tablespoon dried rose petals, 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and 1 1/2 cups sesame oil in a large bowl, making sure that everything is well mixed. Use on damp skin twice a week, scrubbing with your hands or a washcloth in small, circular motions. The mix will last up to six months when stored in a cool, dark cupboard.
The best scrub may be no farther than your pantry. Honey is one of nature's best humectants, drawing water into the skin, while sugar buffs away dead cells so gently that it dissolves as it works. A touch of citrus offers an invigorating scent.
Add 1 teaspoon pure honey to 1/4 cup light olive oil. Blend with 1 cup raw or granulated sugar. Mix in 2 teaspoon fresh citrus zest. Blend until well mixed, then store in a jar.
If you depend on your cup of joe to kick-start your morning, put those coffee grounds to use in this skin-softening body scrub. A traditional treatment that's used in Thai and Balinese spas, it's a luxurious way to start the day. This scrub also contains peppermint, known for its mentally stimulating properties, and raw sugar crystals and olive oil, which exfoliate and moisturize.
Make this scrub on the seaside, or re-create the beach in your own backyard.
In a small jar, add 6 drops of sweet orange and 4 drops of jasmine essential oils to 1 cup coarse sea salt; shake to combine. Then, in a plastic pail, combine the scented salts with 4 tablespoons jojoba, olive, or camellia oil and 2 handfuls very wet sand. Use your hands to blend the mixture. Sitting at the water's edge (or an outdoor spot you don't care will get sandy and oily), work the scrub onto your arms and legs, paying special attention to rough spots like your elbows, heels, and knees. Rinse your body clean in the waves.
Combine 3/4 cup Epsom salts, 1/4 cup baking soda, 4 drops of grapefruit essential oil, and enough almond or jojoba oil to make a paste. Apply the mixture to your body (avoiding your face), using gentle scrubbing motions. Rinse in a warm shower. Be very careful not to slip!
Clean the shower after you're finished as well, so the next person who showers doesn't slip.
People with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or diabetes should not use Epsom salts or take hot baths.
Once you've scrubbed your skin, keep it moisturized and supple with a healing body oil. Grapeseed oil has antioxidant properties, and unlike other oils, which can be heavy or greasy, it's light, easily absorbed, and creates a protective layer to lock in moisture. It is also unscented, and mixes well with other oils and herbs.
The easiest way to create your own moisturizer is to add oil to oil. Pick an essential oil with a smell you love (try lavender, rose, or orange), and mix a few drops into grapeseed oil. For a more complex formula, add herbs or citrus -- like lavender, rosemary, orange peel, or rose petals -- that you can easily dry out in a warm oven (fresh herbs and fruit will cause bacteria growth) and let sit for a few days. Shake before each use.
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