By Adam Hurly.
Your entire body is covered in dead skin cells. And when skin cells die, they don't fall off or float away. Instead, they stay on top of your skin like tiny rotting corpses. In the same way that keeping a decaying body around the house would be a bad idea, keeping these extinguished skin cells sitting on your skin isn't a great move. They can can lead to hair loss, breakouts, grimy feet, and more. That’s why it’s important to exfoliate them away, on every part of your body.
After all, life is better when you get rid of dead weight. Remember when you had to shed excess weight to ford a river in Oregon Trail? Removing dead skin cells from your entire body is like that, but without the game-ending dysentery. Exfoliating your body of old cells is the key to letting the lively ones underneath come to surface and shine, giving you healthier skin overall.
But the exfoliation process is different depending on the body part. You can't bring a pumice stone to your face. And you'll want something heftier than a gritty scrub to take care of those calluses. To help you sort out what works, we put together a guide for keeping your entire dermis free of dead weight.
When you shampoo, really go in on your scalp. We mean it—scratch away! (Without hurting yourself, obviously.) This will lift any dead flakes, which will prevent dandruff and stimulate circulation in the hair follicles. This in turn reduces hair loss. Yes, that seems backwards: You scratch at the head, and hair falls out less? Indeed it does; you’re removing dead skin from the scalp, improving blood flow, and preventing clogged follicles. That’s what keeps the hairs so sturdy.
Twice a week, chase your face cleansing with a gritty scrub. This will lift the dead skin cells away from the lively, healthy ones underneath, meaning you get to showcase only the brightest complexion (this is a good thing—it means you’re free of any blemishes). Don’t overdo it on the scrub, though. Twice a week is sufficient enough to keep your pores unclogged without irritating the healthy skin that remains.
If your lips are peeling from sunburn or subzero temps, buy a gentle lip scrub that safely removes the dead skin while soothing the sensitive skin underneath. It’s just lip balm, with extra grit.
Keep an all-over body scrub, gentle exfoliating agent, or exfoliating bar soap in your shower caddy. These things do double duty as body washes and skin exfoliants, removing dirt and dead skin from the shoulder, back, torso, arms, and legs. The pores in these parts don’t clog as easily as those on your face, but you’ll be surprised where you can get a rough patch of skin or a random pimple.
The feet tend to amass dry patches of skin more than anywhere else. It doesn't always manifest as a callus. Sometimes there might be patches of grime collecting around the ankle, or scaly spots on the heel. Get a soft salt scrub for this task, and work at these patches until they clear up. Follow with a soothing foot cream, and apply it nightly to protect that skin.
Confession: I really, really like using electronic callus removers. Not in a foot fetishist kind of way, but there’s a gross satisfaction from buffing away at the calluses on the heels and feet. It’s the same joy one gets from popping a pimple. The little wheel whirs around, gently grinding away at your dead skin like sandpaper on wood. It doesn’t hurt or tickle—it’s dead skin, after all. But, once you notice the chalky residue that forms on the grinder as it works, you’ll see that it's working and will experience a bizarre kind of satisfaction.
Night Cream One of the best ways to exfoliate your face is with an AHA-packed night cream. It involves no scrubbing, and instead dissolves dead skin cells with alpha hydroxy acid. In turn, it acts as an ultra-moisturizer, working in tandem with your body’s cellular regeneration to fight wrinkles, dark spots, and fine lines.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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