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Shed Your Winter Skin

With spring just around the corner, does your skin need a new season makeover? Exfoliation is one of the simplest ways to achieve a radiant and healthy glow this spring, and we have all the tips to help you along the way.

OUT OF HIBERNATION

If winter calls for hibernation and 
heavy, chunky clothes, spring calls 
for stripping back the layers to reveal bare skin. With months of cold weather, low humidity and indoor heating, your skin is under serious assault and can end up looking dry, cracked and flaky.

While we generate, on average, a new layer of skin every two to four weeks, it is important to speed up this natural shedding process by exfoliating. Exfoliation effectively sloughs off the upper layers of dead skin cells to reveal the newer, smoother tissue underneath.

SCRUB SELECTION

Choose a body scrub with a grainy texture so that when you rub it onto your body, dead skin cells are removed. Look for scrubs that contain “polishing” ingredients, such as oatmeal, ground almonds, sugar and sea salt.

Chemical exfoliation products are another good option: rather than containing granules, these products may use mild acids, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), including salicylic acid. These acids continue the exfoliation process by further abrading and removing the top layer of dead skin cells.

DRY BODY BRUSHING

Use a loofah or an exfoliating brush or gloves to treat your skin to dry body brushing before having a shower. Start from the soles of your feet and work your way up to your chest using long, upward strokes. Dry body brushing is particularly beneficial for activating the lymphatic system, which improves circulation and reduces fluid retention.

SHOWER TIME

In the shower, apply an exfoliating scrub to your loofah or exfoliating brush or gloves and, in gentle, circular movements, scrub your entire body. Pay attention to rough spots, such as heels and elbows.

HYDRATION MATTERS

Exfoliating regularly can be extremely drying and can do more harm than 
good unless your skin is re-hydrated 
with moisturisers, oils or lotions. Fortunately, exfoliating also allows hydrating products to work more effectively, removing the surface layer 
of dead skin cells that can limit how much of the product gets through.

TIME TO SCRUB

The frequency of your scrub-down largely depends on your age and skin type. As you get older, skin cells renew themselves more slowly and your skin can become dull and ashen.

So, it pays to exfoliate more often – at least three times a week, if not daily. If you have oily skin, you should exfoliate more often, as dead skin cells accumulate faster and are not shed as easily as with dry skin. If your skin is very dry, however, it may be too delicate to handle harsh scrubbing more than once or twice a week.

Great skin from Mother Nature

We’re not surprised that the latest crop of skin rejuvenators comes straight from Mother Nature – many of you prefer products that harness the anti-ageing power of plants and believe they’re better for your skin. Doctors say they’re effective, too.

“Botanicals are the best sources for discovering new ingredients that protect and repair ageing skin,” says Zoe Draelos, MD, a clinical and research dermatologist.

Vitamins, antioxidants, and emollients that spring from leaves, nuts, and fruits can soften wrinkles, fight sagging, and boost radiance. Here, we’ve unearthed five that deliver a major youth boost – just how nature intended.

BEARBERRY

A flowering shrub that flourishes throughout the United States, bearberry is quickly becoming a popular skin brightener. The leaves contain arbutin, a derivative of the skin lightener hydroquinone, which reduces the formation of pigment-producing melanin.

Unfortunately, HQ can irritate skin. Bearberry is a milder – but effective – HQ alternative when combined with other botanically based pigment faders, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, a dermatologist in San Francisco.

In one study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, women with melasma who applied a cocktail that included bearberry extract once a day lightened the dark patches of skin by nearly 70 per cent after three months – without any side effects.

Those using prescription-strength HQ saw a 77 per cent improvement, but a quarter of them reported reactions, such as itchy skin.

Find it in: Exuviance Essential Skin Brightening Gel (exuviance.com), Derma-doctor Immaculate Correction (dermadoctor.com), June Jacobs Redness Diffusing Serum (junejacobs.com), and Juice Beauty Soothing Serum (juicebeauty.com).

ACAI

It may be little, but this brightly coloured Brazilian berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) packs a big anti-ageing punch. Acai berries are rich in emollients such as essential fatty acids and phyto-sterols that help seal in moisture and strengthen the skin’s surface so it’s more resilient against outside irritation, says Howard Sobel, MD, a New York City dermatologist and founder of DDF Skincare.

Acai is a powerful protector against free radicals, too. The pulp contains a significant concentration of anthocyanins, the antioxidant pigments that give red and purple produce their deep hue.

Hence the reason this superfruit boasts one of the highest ORAC scores, thought to measure a food’s ability to combat premature aging – even when applied on skin.

“Acai reduces UV damage that eventually causes wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging,” says Sobel. Proof that good things really do come in small packages.

Find it in: Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Gogi Berry Facial Mask (pangeaorganics.com), DDF Mesojection Healthy Cell Serum (beauty.com), and Tarte Double Dose Berry Boost & Gloss in Acai Boost (sephora.com).

RED TEA

Tea brewed from the leaves of this South African shrub are rich in anti-inflammatories such as quercetin that help relieve itchiness and facial flushing. “Red tea is ideal for reducing irritation associated with rosacea and eczema flare-ups,” says Petko Detchev, PhD, senior chemist at Jason Natural Products. It soothes skin after a peel or microdermabrasion, too.

Red tea also shines at preventing the UV damage that causes fine lines and brown spots. Packed with antioxidants – including aspalathin, found only in red tea – it reduces free radical damage by as much as 90 per cent, according to one study. Red tea decreased skin cancer tumors at least 60 per cent, as well.

Find it in: Jason Red Elements Red Clay Masque (jason-natural.com), Care by Stella McCartney Radiance & Youth Elixir (nordstrom.com), and Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer (ulta.com).

ARGAN OIL

Pressed from the nut of the Moroccan argan tree, the oil is touted as “liquid gold” for its ability to moisturise dry, lackluster skin. A high concentration of essential fatty acids and vitamin E, two key parts of skin’s lubricating layer, explains the oil’s power.

“These two components help the skin stay hydrated and prevent further moisture loss,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in Fairfield, New Jersey.

The leaves of the tree are loaded with glycerin, a humectant that attracts water, plumping wrinkles, says Pat Peterson, executive director of research and development at Aveda. The leaf extract fends off wrinkle-causing free radicals as well, reducing collagen and elastin damage by 45 per cent in one study.

Find it in: Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Superskin Concentrate (us.lizearle.com), Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil (kiehls.com), Kaeline Argatherapie ArgarĂ´me Jour Day Serum (xandrarenouvelle.com), and Aveda Green Science Line Minimizer (aveda.com).

DURIAN

Dubbed the King of Fruit in Asia, durian may soon rule the world as a top skin rejuvenator.

Don’t let its spiky exterior scare you: The source of durian’s beauty benefits is the creamy pulp, which contains hydrating oils, protective antioxidants, and natural sugars that strengthen cell membranes and prevent moisture from escaping, says Howard Murad, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA Sch’s a buffer to combat inflammation.

So far, durian is only available in one line: Murad Intensive Wrinkle Reducer for Eyes (murad.com).

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