(Psst! If you missed part 1 of the self-care series, you can check it out here!)
Here’s a fun fact you almost definitely already know: the skin is your body’s largest organ. What you may not have heard is that it is also your body’s largest defense against infection! Keeping this defense moist and healthy is essential; when the skin gets dry and irritated, cracks in the skin can occur which can leave your whole body much more vulnerable to infection. Here’s the great thing – caring for your skin can feel really good. This is one of those “you’re probably already doing it” sections of the series. You probably already wash your face, you probably use lotion sometimes, maybe you’ve even been known to give exfoliation a go. But if you’re not enjoying your skin care routine or don’t really do it often enough to fully reap the benefits, it’s time to change it up. Here are some ways that you can really pamper your body’s largest protector that can actually feel like a personal treat instead of a chore.
1. Introduce dry brushing to your daily routine. Dry brushing promotes overall circulation, helps eliminate toxins, and exfoliates your skin like crazy. I bought my dry brush off Amazon, and immediately started using it before every shower. To dry brush, you simply drag the bristles over your skin in long, even strokes, always moving toward your heart center. Pass once over your entire body, then shower to rinse away any dead skin. When I say this will exfoliate your skin, I really mean it – I’ve had dry, rough skin for as long as I can remember and I credit dry brushing more than any other part of my routine with finally giving me the smooth, soft skin that even I can’t keep my hands off of.
2. Find a skin care routine that you like and use each step, beginning to end, twice a day. Take the time to slowly massage your face with your fingertips as you cleanse and work in your products; facial massage has been shown to relieve tension, increase circulation, and assist better absorption of facial products, all of which help contribute to a clear, youthful, glowing complexion. Each evening, I use a cleanser, a toner, an essence (in the form of rose water), a serum, an eye cream, a night cream, and often some rosehip oil or an acne cream as needed. In the morning, I do the same minus the eye cream and the night cream. Is it a lot? It seemed like it at first, but now I actually look forward to that time each morning and evening – seriously! In the mad dash of our day’s beginning or the exhaustion of our day’s end, it can be difficult to make time for a lengthy routine, but that mad dash and that exhaustion is exactly what makes the time I take to do this routine so important to me.
3. Set aside an hour or so each week for a facial mask routine. In the interest of total transparency, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I don’t LOVE my mask day. It’s time-consuming, it’s kind of messy, and my husband can never seem to resist a little giggle at my clay-covered face’s expense. But let’s face it – skin can be finicky, and our daily routines aren’t always enough to keep dryness or breakouts at bay. Speaking of facts to face, my personal diet/beverage consumption isn’t always necessarily in check, and sometimes I can forget to practice what I preach in terms of the regularity of my daily cleansing routine. That’s when I like to take a little spa break for myself and treat my skin to some extra TLC in order to repent for my dermal wrongs. I start with an exfoliator, then move on to a deep pore purge with a clay mask, and if my skin has felt especially clogged or dull, I’ll follow up with a peel off mask. After all this, I have to imagine my skin is feeling a little traumatized, so I cap it all off with a nice, comforting sheet mask and/or a generous slathering of my favorite night cream.
4. I’ve saved my favorite for last: take the time for long, warm, totally self-indulgent baths on a regular basis. Baths improve circulation, soothe the sinuses, help stimulate your body’s production of melatonin, moisturize your skin, and are a wonderful way to indulge in some aromatherapy. By the way, when I say indulgent, I mean Indulgent with a capital I; if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, right? Build your own bath as though you were building a romantic evening for a lover. First, candles are an absolute necessity – there’s nothing relaxing about the light in any bathroom I’ve ever seen. Second, put on a favorite playlist that fits your vibe (I’m a little partial to one of mine that’s heavy on the Sade and Nina Simone, but everyone has their chill). Next, add some fun stuff in a scent you love to your bathwater. I tend to go for plain Epsom salts with my own blend of essential oils for muscle soreness, but a nice skin-softening bath bomb or oil can be wonderful as well, and sometimes I’ll even add some fresh or dried flowers if I’m feeling extra fancy. After setting up your perfect scene, it’s time to simply exist within the moment you’ve created for yourself. I like to close my eyes and let my mind drift, but if that sounds too boring (hey, I get it), it can also be nice to take some time for a few chapters of that paperback that’s been sitting on your nightstand. After you’re properly placid, take advantage of all the moisture your skin has absorbed by giving yourself a long, full-body rubdown with a rich lotion or some coconut oil.
It can be easy to forget that our skin exists in a constant state of change, with old cells dying and new ones forming. It’s incredibly susceptible to many environmental factors, from pollution and sun damage to diet and dehydration, which makes it incredibly important to show it the love that it deserves. It also contains about 1,000 nerve endings per square inch, which means that it can be one of the most physically enjoyable forms of self-care to practice. Now, go spend some quality time with one of your most hardworking organs and get your glow on!
(Author’s note regarding the featured image: part of my personal collection/obsession, with some of the products I mentioned. Only the finest crappy cell phone quality photos for you guys.)