Normally at this time of year many of us are spring cleaning our homes, or perhaps our routines, relationships or finances. The weather is brighter and warmer and there is often an air of hope and optimism. But what else might we spring clean? I’ve written over ten blogs for Perfumery & Company about the skin on our faces and how best to look after it. But how about the skin on the rest of our bodies? Do you look after it as well as your facial skin? In my experience most of us don’t. Skincare routines for the face can be well established but these often stop at the neck. So during this blog I’m going to focus on our body skin and explain why now is the perfect time to start giving it a ‘spring clean’ if it’s been a little neglected.
I would like to say at this point that this article isn’t about focusing on perceived ‘imperfections’ and looking for ways to change our appearance. Our bodies are amazing. They allow us to do so many different things and, importantly, we only have the one. We should be celebrating what we have and learn to feel comfortable in our own skin. Don’t fall into the trap of panicking about getting your body ‘beach ready’ in preparation for a holiday. I hate this saying as it creates so much pressure to look a certain way. Let’s show ourselves some love and attention. After all our skin is the largest organ of the body and as such needs support like any other organ. So if you are someone who has neglected your body, fear not, I’m here to show you some quick and easy ways to mindfully connect with your body through the use of body care products. These steps can be done all year round to encourage smooth, hydrated and glowing skin. The textures, fragrances and massage application play a large part in positively boosting our mood. But the benefits don’t stop there. These techniques will also stimulate some of our body’s internal systems, such as our lymphatic system. This is responsible for detoxification, almost like a spring clean. But more on that later.
Firstly let’s look at the main differences between facial and body skin:
Skin thickness: Skin is thicker on our body, compared to our face and it’s typically not as sensitive. The fat layer under the skin is thicker too. But our hands and feet have the densest skin, allowing for more resilience. However, this often results in increased dryness.
Dryness: The skin on our body has less sebaceous glands than our face. These naturally produce oil to keep skin soft and supple. So dryness tends to be more of a concern for many of us.
Skin cell turnover rate: The rate at which our skin cells turnover in the skin on our body is slower than on our face. It takes longer for skin cells to naturally renew, so the dry dead ones can hang around for longer which means that skin can appear and feel drier, more dull, thicker and have a scale like appearance.
So what are my top body care habits?
- Washing with a gentle body wash or oil every day
- Dry body brushing once or twice a week
- Gently exfoliating twice a week
- Massaging in a body oil/cream/lotion/gel every day
But the following are also extremely beneficial and should be part of our routines:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Moving our body every day
- Limiting our alcohol and sugar intake
- Eating the rainbow (a well-balanced colourful diet)
- Getting good quality sleep
- Trying cold showers (I turn my shower to cold right at the end but only last for about fifteen seconds!)
During this blog I will focus on dry body brushing, along with applying exfoliators and oils for the body. You’ll find several hero products featured here which you can find in store and online. These products are incredible and can be used on a regular basis. I urge you not to save products for ‘best’. I’ve spoken to numerous people who say ‘Oh it’s too good to use or too expensive to open” and they either never get round to using it or it’s out of date when they finally do. My advice is to use that beautiful body cream you were given for your birthday or that luxurious body oil you bought yourself but regretted. Invest in yourself, you are worth it!
A quick word about our lymphatic system
This is a subsidiary circulatory system entwined with the blood circulation and is responsible for filtering toxins in our body. It delivers fluid and nutrients around the body as it drains excess fluid from tissues and helps to fight infection. It’s our body’s way of spring cleaning itself all year round. The trouble is that it doesn’t have its own pump, like the heart does. So in order for it to be stimulated and work effectively it relies on muscle movement, deep breathing and massage, to name a few. However, many of us will experience an impaired lymphatic system. Symptoms can be swelling of the ankles, feet and fingers, dehydrated and/or dry skin, sallow and tired looking skin, skin that is slow to heal, fine lines, loss of resilience and bounce and blemishes that take a long time to heal.
Dry body brushing and taking time to massage body care products into the skin will help muscles to relax, allowing lymphatic vessels to open and aid drainage. By taking deep breaths at the same time lymph flow will be stimulated which will also aid drainage. So by mindfully connecting with our bodies when we are using body care products means we are supporting the body’s way of spring cleaning itself. Other activities which will stimulate the system and encourage healing are walking, swimming or aqua aerobics for twenty minutes a day and elevating legs for twenty minutes at the end of the day or after long periods of standing or sitting to encourage a boost in circulation. Drinking plenty of water and reducing our salt intake are also a must.
The amazing benefits of Dry Body Brushing
I recommend body brushing to everyone. It’s such a quick, easy and cheap way to improve the look and feel of the skin whilst stimulating the lymphatic system. If you’ve not heard of body brushing before, it’s when we use a brush designed specifically for the body on dry skin.
- It’s incredibly invigorating (Although don’t be tempted to use a body brush on the face, otherwise you’ll be rocking a red raw complexion!).
- It will slough away dry dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and encourage the regeneration of new ones, leaving the skin soft and supple.
- It will increase circulation to bring nutrient rich freshly oxygenated blood to the skins surface for better tone and elasticity.
- It helps the body to metabolise toxins efficiently and discourages water retention.
- By improving the circulation it encourages cell turnover and plumps the skin making cellulite appear less obvious. However this is only a temporary fix. (Cellulite is stubborn but is also completely natural).
- It encourages ingrown hairs to lift up and keeps clogged pores at bay.
- Overall it is a huge stress reliever and it only takes a few minutes.
How to do it:
- Dry body brush in the morning before your shower (if you prefer a shower at night try to do it a couple of hours before bed otherwise it will be too invigorating and may not be conducive to a good night’s sleep).
- Both skin and brush should be dry when you use it.
- Start at the feet and ankles and use short sweeping motions in an upwards direction. Brush over legs (including the back of both knees), buttocks, arms (including wrists) and back. The stomach and chest area are usually more sensitive so go gently and avoid the breast and nipple area. Always move the brush in the direction of your heart and Don’t go over the same area more than a couple of times.
- Don’t brush too hard, it shouldn’t scratch, hurt, burn or sting. Skin will have a pink appearance but it shouldn’t be red. It will feel tingly and alive.
- Once finished take a shower. I challenge you to turn the temperature to cold for the last few seconds. I promise that you will feel amazing afterwards.
- Pat skin dry and be sure to moisturise afterwards to prevent dryness. If using an oil apply to damp skin to maximise the benefits.
- Clean your brush regularly according to the cleaning instructions.
- B. Don’t dry body brush over eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wounds, sunburn, irritations or any severe skin condition.
*Perfumery & Co have Elemis body brushes available to order in store/via the phone.
Why do we need to Exfoliate?
You can moisturise your skin every single day but it will only have a minimal benefit if we don’t dry body brush or exfoliate to remove the natural build-up of dry dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Once these are removed, any product subsequently applied will be able to penetrate more effectively and you won’t need to use as much of it. Otherwise anything you apply will just sit on the surface. Unless you have eczema, psoriasis, a severe skin condition or any of the other reasons previously mentioned you can exfoliate gently at least twice a week. This will speed up cell turnover by mimicking the skins natural shedding to reveal smoother brighter skin. The same application principles apply when using a body exfoliator as with body brushing although I always include my feet and hands too.
*Some of Perfumery & Co’s top body exfoliator picks are:
Elemis Sea Lavender & Samphire Salt Scrub
All skin types
This is a gentle but highly effective exfoliator. It has an incredible unisex fragrance which is so uplifting and invigorating. It is the perfect way to start the day. The particles are sea salt which brings about smooth and soft skin. Sea Lavender has been proven to deliver hydration to the skin and is known to be rich in antioxidants which help to protect the skin. Samphire has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Effective at supporting the skins natural moisture barrier which often gets compromised. It is a gel like texture which is super easy to use.
Apply a pea sized amount to damp skin using circular motions before rinsing off. I sometimes apply it straight onto dry skin if I feel my skin needs it i.e. during the colder months or after I have been on a summer holiday.
Neals Yard Remedies Wild Rose Body Polish
All skin types
This is a certified organic product which is a pleasure to use. It has the most beautiful rose fragrance which is left lingering on the skin. Crushed organic wild rosehip seeds are mixed into a creamy texture which is really gentle on the skin and very hydrating. Skin is left soft and moisturised. I often use this on my hands and feet too.
Massage into damp skin using circular motions before rinsing.
Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub
All skin types
Natural bamboo powders gently exfoliate whilst shea butter moisturises and nourishes the skin leaving it feeling smooth. This cream exfoliator is so easy to use and has a very subtle fragrance which wouldn’t interfere with any products subsequently applied.
Massage into dry or damp skin. I prefer to apply this one to dry skin whilst standing in the shower before I turn the water on.
Neals Yard Remedies Geranium & Orange Body Scrub
All skin types
This is a hardworking buttery salt scrub suspended in organic soybean oil and olive fruit oil which leaves the skin soft and supple. It’s enriched with nourishing shea nut butter and is therefore particularly good for rough dry areas such as hands, feet, knees, elbows, tops of arms and thighs. Perfect if you are a keen gardener etc. Citrus and geranium essential oils create a subtle but refreshing fragrance suitable for anyone. Due to the high salt content don’t use this on freshly shaven or broken skin. Some exfoliators are most effective when used on dry or damp skin before stepping into the stream of water in the shower. But I suggest scooping this out onto wet skin to give it more slip as the particles are quite sizeable.
*All of these scrubs are designed for use on the body massaging in circular motions. Always choose a specific facial exfoliator for use on the face. I don’t advice using one for the body on the face. Be sure to apply gentle pressure. Don’t be tempted to go at it as though you are sanding a rough piece of wood!
These deliver a surge of moisture and nourishment to the skin. It helps to restore the hydrolipidic film on the surface of the skin to prevent further moisture loss. Aim to moisturise every day either in the morning after a shower or in the evening before bed (leaving enough time for the product to sink in before going to bed. Otherwise your sheets will feel the benefit rather than your skin!). If you are regularly body brushing or exfoliating you will find that you won’t need to use as much product as you were previously so you may not need to replenish them quite as often. I love to have a choice of products at home – sometimes I use a lotion, sometimes an oil, other times a cream. It depends on how I am feeling and what my body needs. Oils are my favourite as they tend to absorb quickly and leave my skin the smoothest. Always moisturise after body brushing and exfoliating and massage in firmly using circular motions all over (paying particular attention to dry areas such as elbows, heels and knees). On the mornings I body brush or exfoliate I always allow a couple of extra minutes to apply an oil, lotion or cream straight afterwards to nourish the skin effectively. Perfumery & Co have many body moisturisers where the textures and fragrances will lift your spirits whilst delivering results. I am putting the spotlight on body oils.
*Some of Perfumery & Co’s top body oil picks:
The Organic Pharmacy Detox Body Oil
All skin types
This has such an invigorating blend of oils including juniper, fennel, eucalyptus and rosemary. Perfect for application in the mornings to deliver a shot of energy and moisture. This lightweight oil has been clinically proven to increase the skins moisture and elasticity after being applied once a day for a month. I’m always a bit dubious about products that claim to improve tone but I’ve definitely noticed the elasticity of my skin improve.
Either apply directly onto damp skin after a shower or, as The Organic Pharmacy suggest, spray directly onto your dry body brush and then apply in long upward sweeping strokes towards the heart before showering.
Clarins Contour Treatment Oil
All skin types
I am a huge fan of Clarins facial and body oils. They never disappoint. This is a lightweight oil developed to strengthen the skin. It has a beautiful spa like fragrance comprising of essential oils of geranium, lemon and bitter orange tree and is always a joy to massage in. It is marvellous at reducing the feeling of heavy legs which many of us get if we stand or sit for long periods. I can see that my skin is well hydrated and the elasticity is better.
This is designed to be used before a cold shower in the evening. This would be the best time to do it if you suffer with heavy legs. But for me, I have found that it is more convenient to use in the morning on damp skin. Whenever you use it massage it into legs, hips and buttocks before standing under a cold shower. If you can’t bring yourself to stand under a cold shower just try to ensure the temperature is lower than you normally have it to stimulate your circulatory system.
Neals Yard Remedies Detox Toning Oil
All skin types
A beautiful warming aromatic fragrance containing essential oils of lemon, black pepper and frankincense. This soothing blend of oils is often used for lymphatic drainage by Aromatherapists. It helps to strengthen the skin and improve smoothness which I have noticed in my own skin. I’ve used it on some of my clients who suffer with fluid retention during leg massages. Although it can be used all over the body if you wish.
Massage vigorously in to skin daily morning or evening.
*If massaged in well and used on a regular basis all of these oils will help to stimulate the lymphatic system and aid detoxification whilst leaving skin smoother and more supple.
I also wanted to draw your attention to a Detox dietary supplement programme available at Perfumery & Co:
The Organic Pharmacy 10 Day Detox
This is a complete programme of nutritional supplements along with a very thorough guide and meal plan.
This ten day kit will sooth the digestive tract, support drainage and liver function and metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. It also helps to protect cells from oxidative stress.
If you are looking to reset your body - perhaps you feel sluggish, tired, bloated, constantly craving sugar etc. then consider this kit. It’s a well-balanced detox plan where you actually eat! You don’t have to survive on juice, air or dust!
This product was awarded a CEW Beauty Award as voted for by industry professionals and experts. These are recognised as one of the most coveted awards in the industry. They recognise the ‘best in class’. So this programme is something to take note of.
On opening the box you will find four supplement bottles (Detox, Phytonutrients + MSM), Superantioxidants and Essential Fatty Acid +B Complex). Plus a detailed guide covering how the detox works, sources of toxins, what to expect from the detox itself and the meal plan. I’m not usually a fan of ‘detoxing’ but I would say that The Organic Pharmacy’s plan is not like a traditional detox. Following this plan myself has helped me to refocus my own eating habits and I do feel better.
*As always I spend a lot of time testing these products and give my honest opinion.
I hope you have found this body care blog insightful. As always everyone at Perfumery & Company are incredible at what they do so please reach out if you have any questions.