3 July 2017

Feature: Beauty and Wellness

Summer Soft Skin for the Time Starved and Less than Arsed

Winter has its benefits.  Cosy nights inside with a hot drink, cosy weekend afternoons wandering the park with a hot drink, cosy Christmas mornings with hot drinks.  Mostly it’s the hot drinks.  And the jumpers, trousers and coats all piled cosily on and hiding the flaky dry skin that you don’t have to think about for (if you’re in the UK) like, eight months of the year.   When the limbs are ready to come out though, if you’re anything like me, the winter flurries continue; only now it’s literally dead skin fluffing off and floating in the summer sunlight.  Gross. 

So, what is the time poor and less than inclined person to do?  There are myriad treatments that cost a lot in either time or money.  One that I’ve been particularly curious about but not at all arsed enough to try is a combination of exfoliating acids applied to the body.  Into the Gloss did a good review of the product I had in my ‘basket’ for about three months and never ended up buying.  I’m sure it’s good but my god, who has the time for showering, drying off, applying the product, waiting 5 – 10 minutes and then showering again … multiple times!? Not me.  And I’m guessing not thee either.   Besides, I tend to enjoy the circulation stimulating effects of physical exfoliation and hot/cold combinations.  So, what I tend to do is a mash up of the following, in no particular order or ritual or consistency.  I find that they all work well enough to make sure you’re not all flaky, to get the skin a bit revived and to prevent the little bumps that sometimes form at the back of the thighs and upper arms.  I can’t guarantee that you’ll glow like a shiny smooth baby unicorn, but you’ll be close enough for government work – and that summer holiday you just booked. 

Salux Towel

This is an awesome exfoliating towel, and like basically everything else on this earth, it’s available on Amazon.  If you believe the packaging, it’s a Japanese beauty essential.  I have no way of vetting this but I am going to assume it is true because it’s fabulous. 

I choose not to use it with soap because I generally shy away from soaps, but even with just warm water in the shower, this long rectangular towel, made of nylon, sloughs off dead skin on any part of your person.  I take both ends and shimmy it from my feet up my legs (front and back), each arm, my back and chest.  It’s invigorating and relaxing at the same time.  And it’s quick.  I wouldn’t recommend for the face but that’s up to you – I have acne prone skin so I’m very sensitive to any sort of irritation and micro-tearing that might be caused by particularly vigorous exfoliation, but if particularly vigorous facial exfoliation is your thing – have at it.   I generally use it every other day and within a few uses my skin was noticeably softer and smooth in the places that were usually the worst in terms of rough skin and bumps.  The only place regression is welcome is in the softness of one’s bottom.  Like a baby’s.  Almost.  

Dry Brushing

I wish I were more consistent about actually doing this.  It’s really quite effective and preps the skin well for a shower in addition to getting circulation going.  I’m more dubious about claims that it reduces, or even gets rid of, cellulite, but there’s definitely a certain magic in it.  I especially like to use it on my upper arms and chest – it adds a bit of vitality there and makes my face look more flushed and healthy.  If used regularly, I find that the results are cumulative and stick with me.  

Dry brushing, along with claims about cellulite removal, is also credited with being great for clearing toxins from the lymphatic system, strengthening the immune system, toning muscles, aiding digestion and preventing premature aging.  Again, I’m a little dubious about many of these claims, but even if none of the less credible ones are true, I definitely notice a difference in the quality of my skin and a little extra glow.  For that reason alone, it’s worth the effort to remember to do a bit of dry brushing before you get in the shower. 

Pure Jojoba Oil  

I feel positively holier-than-thou-smug if I can be arsed to moisturise in any fashion before I go to bed.  Technically, it is best to do straight after a shower as it allows you to take advantage of warm and slightly moist skin, but that is so far from possible for me at the moment that it isn’t even worth lamenting. 

I find that jojoba oil absorbs quickly (it’s technically a liquid wax – so doesn’t have an overly oily texture – extracted from the nut of a shrub which grows in the Southwest United States) and, luckily, that makes it perfect for before bed.  The wonders of nature, eh?  It does have a nutty but very mild smell, so even if you smear it all over yourself liberally, you won’t smell like an American shrub.  The reason it is particularly effective is that it closely resembles the sebum that our bodies naturally produce to help keep our skin protected and hydrated.  Soaps and frequent washing disrupt our skin’s natural barriers and jojoba oil is a good boost to what is lost.  I literally use it all over: body and hair.  It is rich in ceramides (a waxy lipid molecule) as well having a high mineral and vitamin content, particularly vitamin E.  All of this boils down to one all important take away point: it is so effective and so good for the skin that even if you don’t manage religious application, you should still feel its benefits.  I think iy’s important to get pure, unrefined jojoba oil so that all the richness of its natural properties aren’t processed out of it – you’re not using it as a sterile cosmeceutical base for anything, so take it in its purist form.  I buy mine from a local health-food shop – nowhere fancy.  

Trip to the Local Baths

Okay, hear me out.  This isn’t a crazy go-spend-hundreds-of-pounds spa trip suggestion.  As in most countries, Britain has a culture of publicbaths/steam rooms/heat rooms.  Unfortunately, many of the public baths once enjoyed in most towns in this country have shut down.  Fortunately, though, there is a bit of a renaissance happening and you’re likely to be able to find a public bath with lovely facilities for a reasonable price near you. 

I either go to York Hall inBethnal Green or over to the Iron Monger Rowbaths in Islington.  For £25 you can get three hours to roam from dry heat to steam heat to dry heat, dip yourself in some icy water and have a relax in between in a nicely appointed chill out room.  It’s brilliant to go twice a year at the change of the seasons, and in winter I do try to go more than once to keep my body warm to the bones.  Dry brush first, bring your salux towel and when you’re done, slather some jojoba oil on and you’re golden, shiny smooth and golden.  

Written by Mallory from @the_parlour_hackney 


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