June 5, 2013


I've always had weird skin. Sensitive, dry, pale, and prone to mysterious allergic reactions that have send me to Urgent Care a few times in the past few years. I'd also started to become wary of some of the skin / hair / face products in my life, with their long lists of unnatural, unpronounceable ingredients. So, last winter I started thinking about what I could do to be a bit more proactive about caring for it (probably also prompted by my dry, itchy winter skin, which is the worst).

I did some research and kept coming back to two things: coconut oil and dry brushing. The former, to replace my body lotion and facial moisturizer. The latter, to regularly invigorate and exfoliate my skin and body as a whole.

Every time I'm about to take a shower, I brush my entire body in short, even strokes, always towards the heart (and always using a natural bristle brush - synthetics will scratch). I start with my feet, work my way up my legs, then work my way down from my hands and arms. It supposedly stimulates the lymphatic system and aids in skin cell renewal. I'm still not totally sold on all of the claims behind it (like cellulite removal?, however nice that would be), but I love it because it feels amazing. I felt a bit ridiculous at first, like a show horse brushing myself down after a race or something, but I am a total convert now that a few months have passed. My skin breaks out less and feels way smoother. Using showertime as a trigger has also really helped solidify the habit - I can count on one hand the number of times since January that I skipped dry brushing (I was sick, or people were over, etc.), and it felt wrong. Showering immediately afterward also washes off the dead skin cells / toxins you've just shed – so dry brushing without showering also feels wrong. But maybe that's just my overactive imagination. Anyway!

After brushing and showering, I moisturize. At first I was a bit skeptical of coconut oil – something you could cook with and slather all over your body? – but it's been used for both to great effect for thousands of years, and I liked the simplicity of it (and how it makes me subtly smell like a tropical beach). I bought the best coconut oil I could find (this, at Whole Foods), and keep it in an apothecary jar in my bathroom. Now, whenever I step out of the shower, I use it on my entire body, including my face (and I usually rub the leftover oil in my hair as well). I add a few drops of tea tree oil if I'm breaking out anywhere, and I'm done.

I feel good about simplifying and naturalizing my skin care routine – and my skin feels good, too. It might not be for everyone, but I'd highly recommend doing your own research if you're curious or not happy with your own skin care routine.