Who is ready for shorts season?! With the weather heating up, it is about that time when it feels like our legs are always on display.
Whether you are donning bikini bottoms or a flowy skirt, everyone wants their legs to have that sleek, smooth, radiant summer glow. It’s time to take those gams out of jeans- and sweatpant-hibernation and get them ready for sunny summer days. Lucky for you, we know just how to get to that point: exfoliation.
Below, we are diving into everything you need to know about exfoliating your legs from why it’s important to the different ways you can do it. Keep reading for all of our juicy, skin-smoothing secrets.
What Is Exfoliation?
Your skin cells are constantly regenerating. In fact, your skin cells naturally replenish about every 27 days, which is about once a month.
When your skin hits the reset button, sometimes dead skin cells can collect on the outer layer of your skin. It’s out with the old and in with the new — but it can leave a bit of build up that we want to GTFO ASAP. Eeek!
Thankfully, getting rid of those dead skin cells is easy. The way to get rid of this dead skin cell buildup? Exfoliation!
Simply put, exfoliation is the process of removing the dead skin that, over time, builds up on the outer layer of your skin and causes dryness and flakiness. Once removed, a fresh layer of skin is ready to be seen.
What Are the Different Types of Exfoliation?
When it comes to exfoliating any part of your body, there are two methods that can be used: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. Both do the same job (slough off dead skin cells), but they work in different ways.
Physical exfoliation is just what it sounds like, a manual exfoliation method that works by rubbing the skin with some sort of abrasive product. Of course, this is skin we’re talking about, so not just any abrasive product will do. TL;DR: Don’t rub sandpaper on your skin, okay?
What can you use, you may ask? Products with small, rough granules like body scrubs or gentle abrasive surfaces like washcloths are commonly used for physical exfoliation.
When rubbed around the skin, these manually buff away the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal the healthier, brighter skin beneath.
Chemical exfoliation might sound scary — but trust us, it is totally safe. You probably already do it every day if you have acne-prone skin, and chemical exfoliants are often even more gentle for your skin than physical exfoliants.
Chemical exfoliation involves using products that break down the bonds between skin cells, making it easy for you to wipe that dead skin away. Enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as lactic acid and glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid are all commonly-used chemical exfoliants.
Which Type of Exfoliation Is Right for Me?
There really is no right answer to this one – it is completely up to you! The skin on your legs is thicker than the skin on your face, so it can likely withstand exfoliation products that may have been too harsh for your face.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Both chemical and physical exfoliation do a great job at refreshing dry, dull skin. It is truly a matter of preference and figuring out what works best for your skin.
What Are the Benefits of Exfoliating Your Legs?
So, we have talked a lot about what exfoliation is and the different types of exfoliating products there are out there, now let’s talk about the skin-softening benefits.
It Makes Your Legs Silky-Smooth
One of the most obvious and well-known benefits of exfoliating your legs is that it makes them oh-so-soft. With all of those dead skin cells gone, you are left with a layer of fresh skin that is silky smooth to the touch. Ooh la la!
Make sure to lather up with our Aloe Coconut Body Lotion after you exfoliate to replenish any moisture that may have been lost in the exfoliation process. If you’re looking for that smooth-as-a-dolphin skin this summer, don’t miss this step!
It Can Help Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs are the bane of our existence. I mean, IYKYK. Not only are they itchy and uncomfortable, but they can be difficult to get rid of. Major ugh! One of our favorite, lesser-known benefits of exfoliation is that it can help prevent those pesky ingrown hairs from growing in the first place.
When too many dead skin cells build up on the skin, our hair follicles can become clogged. This makes it easier for ingrown hairs and folliculitis (hair follicle inflammation) to develop. When you exfoliate frequently, there is less dead skin buildup and therefore a clean surface where ingrown hairs are less likely to thrive.
Who doesn’t like the sound of that?!
It Can Improve Skin Texture and Color
Physical exfoliation involves a lot of movement, which is great because it promotes circulation. If you want to use a chemical exfoliation, pair that with a gentle massage to get the same circulation boost. Good circulation will make your legs feel amazing and it has some aesthetic benefits, too.
Good circulation can improve the texture, surface color, and even functioning of your legs. If you have cellulite or “strawberry skin” (clogged pores and hair follicles) the circulation from regular exfoliation may help diminish their appearance.
While exfoliation will not get rid of any skin issues, it certainly can help give your legs a more radiant, healthy glow.
It Can Make Hair Removal Easier in the Future
Have you ever watched a shaving commercial in awe as the razor glides ever-so-smoothly over a shiny leg? No nicks or cuts in sight! What gives?
When we shave our legs it often doesn’t look like that…unless we exfoliate our legs first.
Another negative effect of dead skin buildup is that it causes friction when you shave. Plus, those dead skin cells can clog up your razor blade and make it a bit dull. That buildup makes it more difficult for you to get a close shave.
Exfoliating your legs regularly gives you a clean canvas, hello work of art. That’s free of buildup and ready for your razor to just glide right over.
Four of Our Favorite Ways To Exfoliate Your Legs
We’ve already talked about the different methods of exfoliation, but even within the chemical and physical realms, there are so many different products that get the exfoliation job done. Keep reading for some of our favorites. We hope you find something that works for you!
Go for a Classic Body Scrub
Delicious smells, luxurious textures, and the promise of silky-smooth skin at the end of it all? No wonder body scrubs are so popular and have been for pretty much as long as we can remember. Sugar, salt, and even coffee grinds are some of the common base ingredients for body scrubs. The coarse particles in all of these ingredients physically buff off dead skin cells from the surface.
When it comes to finding the right scrub, look for nourishing ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils that will boost your skin with hydration while you exfoliate. It’s a double whammy that’ll leave you with clean, refreshed, moisturized skin after every scrub.
In terms of how to do it, take some scrub on your fingertips and rub it around your body. Move in circular motions, always going up towards your heart instead of away from it. When you’re done follow up with some more moisturizer for good measure.
Keep It Simple With a Washcloth
If body scrubs are too harsh for your sensitive skin, or you just don’t love them, a washcloth is an easy way to get some gentle exfoliation. It has a little less exfoliating power than a gritty scrub, but it is a great step to add to your routine if you’re looking for something low maintenance, light exfoliation.
Just put your body wash onto the washcloth, then rub the cloth around your body using circular motions like you would with a scrub.
When done, throw your washcloth in the wash and get a fresh one for next time. Damp washcloths are a bacteria breeding ground, yuck. A loofah would work just as well here, just make sure to replace it every few weeks.
Try an Exfoliating Glove
Exfoliating gloves are a bit stronger than washcloths because they’re specifically designed for the purpose of exfoliation. Plus, the glove design makes them so easy to use. Just wet the glove, scrub, and rinse – no other products necessary!
We may be biased, but we think our Deep Exfoliation Glove is pretty great. It gets rid of dead skin cells in one fell swoop. Plus, it’s made with 100% reusable material so it’s just as kind to the earth as it is to your skin.
Take the Chemical Exfoliant Route
Don’t be deterred by the name, these gentle exfoliants are great for all skin types. There are so many different products out there, we suggest doing some research and finding the right acids to target your specific skin concerns.
While chemical exfoliants are more gentle on your skin barrier than some of their physical counterparts, they still sensitize your skin. So, it’s important to use them sparingly (only a couple times a week).
During the day, make sure to use SPF after using your acids to protect your skin from the sun as it will be extra sensitive.
Show Off Those Summer-Ready Legs
We hope you were taking notes and now have your exfoliation routine ready. Now, who wants to hit the beach?!
How to Safely Exfoliate at Home | American Academy of Dermatology Association
Skin Information: Layers of Skin, Keeping Skin Healthy, and More | WebMD