My knees and elbows are dry and flaky, my hands so incredibly itchy, and my knuckles cracked and raw. I'll admit I am terrible about hyperfocusing on my face and forgetting the rest of my largest organ. I do carry excess face products left on my hands down onto my neck and chest (Décolleté, if you're fancy), and once a month-ish, I put some lotion on my legs. But that's about all I ever manage. Now that I have copious amounts of free time, I am seeing the effects of my neglect. Now I am on a mission to revitalize all the skin, and the struggle is real!
Let's start at the top and work our way down. Neck and chest skin are thin and fragile and some of the most vulnerable to sun damage. As we work our way into summer temperatures and start spending time lounging by the pool, please don't forget to protect these delicate areas with a good broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or more. Because the skin on the neck and chest also produce visible signs of aging faster than other areas of the body, it's a good idea to use products to mitigate existing damage and prevent future issues. The carry-down method I mentioned in the first paragraph is effective as long as you aren't using aggressive resurfacing or peel products as they are too harsh. If you need lots of correction, you may want to look into a product specifically formulated for the skin of the neck and chest. One of my favorites is Revision Skincare Nectifirm Advanced. it is peptide rich, which means lots of tightening. Anyone who sleeps on their side and is well endowed needs this product. You will thank me later. If you don't want yet another step, SkinBetter Science Interfuse Treatment Cream Face and Neck is for you! This wonderful new product contains neuro calming peptides and targets collagen production to smooth, firm, and lift skin of both the face and the neck. Remember, your skin does most of its repair work at night, so don't skip that bedtime routine!
Next, let's take a shower. You heard me; I am inviting you to shower with me. Close your eyes though; nobody needs that kind of visual trauma! I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, I'm a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do kinda gal. The temperature of my shower water feels like it is approximately 1000 degrees. My skin is red and maybe slightly swollen when I get out. This is BAD. Excessively hot showers dilate capillaries, causing long-term redness, and dehydrate skin. I know I'm not the only one who does this. I'm pretty sure most of us know we shouldn’t scald ourselves, but if burning hot showers are wrong, I don't want to be right. If you do happen to have self-control and a desire to be kind to your skin, then you should know that the optimal temperature for your shower to properly cleanse but not damage skin is 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that we've got the right temperature, let's look at how, and with what, you are washing. I grew up using Dial soap on my body (and my face because my momma failed me). It is antibacterial and easily takes dirt and grime for a ride down the drain, but it is also HORRIBLY alkaline as are most retail bar soaps. Alkalinity in a product means that your naturally acidic pH balance is being disturbed and your skin is being stripped of essential moisture and its protective barrier called the Acid Mantle. The easiest way to find a pH balanced body wash or soap is to search feminine hygiene. Feminine care products are specifically made to keep the pH of the body below 7 which is neutral. Your body is slightly acidic, around a 5.5. Most retail soaps and body washes fall between 9 and 14! If you can't get past the feminine hygiene factor, then Dermalogica Conditioning Body Wash is a pH balanced soap-free alternative with botanical oils including naturally antimicrobial tea tree, leaving your skin clean and conditioned.
Scrubs are a great way to exfoliate! They are usually formulated with some type of moisturizing ingredients, so you get two-in-one convenience. My newest obsession is a product made locally in AZ. Barn Door Bath Shop offers bath and body products that are hand-crafted with top of the line ingredients. My favorite of their offerings is the sugar scrub cubes. They are formulated with pure essential oils of Lavender or Vanilla and are so easy to use. Each sugar cube is about the size of an ice cube which is the perfect size to scrub the whole body. No messy jars or lost product down the drain. Just hold the cube in the palm of your hand and scrub away! After using these cubes, my skin was soft and moisturized, and I had a beautiful glow that lasted for days.
After you have thoroughly washed and exfoliated from top to bottom and you are finished showering, you should pat your skin dry. Never rub. The best time to use a moisturizer or body oil is while your skin is still damp. I'm particularly fond of Eminence Organic Skincare Stone Crop Contouring Body Cream, but they have a really comprehensive line of body products to play with including body oils, repair balms, body wraps, and even cellulite treatments. Speaking of those pesky lumps and bumps, I have a sure-fire way to reduce their appearance tremendously, but it takes time and persistence. If you don't know, cellulite is a condition of the fascia or connective tissues that crosshatch one another. When fat expands, it bulges through the fascia creating the appearance of dimpled orange peel-like skin. The best way to fight any condition is by addressing it at its source. There is a product called the Fascia Blaster, and when used on a regular basis, it breaks down the connective tissue that causes the problem. Then, follow up with a great cellulite treatment like Jan Marini CelluliTx. Dimples be gone! Cellulite is no match for this duo!
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about your poor overly washed hands and your funky feet! With the notorious Covid-19 contagion threatening world health, we all need to be vigilant about washing our hands, but that can (and for me, did) result in cracked and raw hands. EltaMD So Silky Hand Cream to the rescue! This hand cream not only has emollient ceramides and Vitamin E to nourish, it also has lightening ingredients to fight pigment. If your hands are cracked and raw you will want to use an antibiotic ointment on open areas prior to using your hand cream. In our house, my family and I also use Aquaphor over our moisturizer when hands get exceptionally dry. Usually we only use it at night because Aquaphor can be greasy and leave stains.
Your feet may require a little more work. I’m so excited to share this next little nugget of skin wisdom with you! I have some crusty feet. There, I said it. My feet get so grossly calloused in summer. Because of the novel Coronavirus, my usual every 3-week pedicure appointments are on hold (I miss you Kris!). So, I had to do a little research to figure out how I could get my tootsies back into shape. My people, I found the best product: Baby Foot Exfoliation Foot Peel. This product is keeping me from having gorilla feet while quarantined. It is a combination of glycolic, lactic, malic, citric and salicylic acids that come in a pre-filled bootie. Slip on the bootie, wrap it at the ankle, and secure with an adhesive strip. Then put socks over the top. I left the booties on for two hours while enjoying a virtual happy hour with some friends. I removed the booties and washed off any excess product in the shower as per the directions. I expected my feet to start peeling three days later, but they actually didn’t start to slough until five days after the peel had been applied. It was worth the wait! Holy Moly, did my feet peel! It was so nasty yet so satisfying,and my feet no longer scare small children. The only drawback to this product is that it takes several days for the peeling to occur and your significant other might be slightly grossed out by the process. I believe my husband said, “I’m going to throw up,“ on my heaviest peel day. He will thank me the next time we play footsy under the table.
Looking good helps us to feel good, but it is extremely easy to let ourselves go during this time of social distancing. Your physical appearance can change your entire mental state. It’s important that we take care of our whole selves now and always. So, grab a mimosa, or three, (day drinking is acceptable while in quarantine) and think of this as your own personal spa day. You’re Welcome.