For people who want smooth, soft skin on their legs, there’s more to it than simply shaving on a regular basis. Exfoliation is a key part of a good skincare routine because it helps slough off dead skin cells that can be contributing to a dull appearance, as well as help expose skin to better absorb skincare products like moisturizer. However, before simply diving in and buying the first exfoliator you find, it helps to know the right way to exfoliate the legs—both how and how often—according to your specific skin type.
What is Exfoliation?
In general, exfoliation is the act of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Every month or so, your body produces a brand-new layer of healthy skin, and while it is usually able to flake off old, damaged, dead skin cells, sometimes they can become trapped in pores, leading to blemishes or ingrown hairs. Shaving is a type of exfoliation, although it can also irritate the skin and lead to dreaded razor burn. That’s why exfoliating with a professional-grade product is a better way to clean deeply and replenish skin’s healthy glow.
There are two ways you can exfoliate your legs: chemically with specific skin-safe acids, or physically with gentle scrubbing compounds.
Chemical exfoliants work by dissolving the very outer layer of skin cells to reveal bright, fresh skin underneath. The three most common active ingredients that achieve this safely are alpha and beta hydroxy acids and certain plant-derived enzymes. Alpha hydroxy acid exfoliators are usually glycolic or lactic acid-based and the most common beta hydroxy acid is salicylic acid.
Chemical exfoliants aren’t right for everyone, as they can cause irritation and redness for sensitive skin, however enzyme-based exfoliants can be a good solution for sensitive skin exfoliation, because they don’t work as quickly as acid-based ones.
Physical exfoliants use abrasion from fine or course materials like salt, sugar, or walnut shell powder to scrape away dead skin cells and clean pores thoroughly. The more oily your skin naturally is, the more aggressive you should go with an exfoliant. However, keep in mind that to avoid skin irritation, it’s important not to press too hard on your skin when exfoliating, as this can scratch the skin and cause redness and increased oil production.
Each of Epicuren’s body polishes uses a different exfoliant, some of which may work better for your specific skin type, so be sure to try different formulas if you’re unsatisfied with your first result. In addition to getting the job done, our professional-grade exfoliants, like our calming Cinnamon Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Polish, are naturally scented to give you a luxurious experience in the comfort of your own home.
How to Exfoliate Correctly
Exfoliating the wrong way, or over-exfoliating, can damage your skin and weaken its protective barrier, leading to more chronic inflammation and redness, as well as making it more sensitive. It’s best to follow the directions of your specific product, and monitor your skin condition to see if any changes occur that aren’t beneficial.
Step 1: Steam and Clean
A steamy shower helps open up skin’s pores, allowing products and exfoliators to get down deep for the best clean. Wash your body with a gentle, hydrating cleanser to get most of the dirt, oil, and residual products (like sunscreen) off the legs prior to exfoliating. This allows the exfoliation to work properly on a smooth, clean surface.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Paying close attention to your specific exfoliator’s instructions, start at your feet, spending more time on rough, thick skin like your heel and ankles, which can easily build up callouses that exfoliation helps prevent. As you move up to the calves, spend extra time on the knees, where skin is also thick. Finally, pay attention to the inner thighs, which can chafe and rub, causing extra dead skin cells that need exfoliation. Once you’ve exfoliated all of your legs, rinse the product off thoroughly before moving on with the rest of your routine, including shaving.
Step 3: Moisturize
The key after exfoliation is to hydrate the skin deeply so that it doesn’t dry out. Your specific skin type will determine how strong a product you’ll need, from our popular after-bath moisturizers to a richer hydrating body oil.
Best Exfoliation for Legs
Exfoliating on a regular basis is totally worth it in the long run. This step in a comprehensive skin care routine ensures your skin is taking full advantage of the high-quality ingredients in Epicuren’s products. Our exfoliators are formulated to be safe and effective on all skin types, with natural ingredients like sugar, salt, and Bora Bora sand in our Mint Renewal White Sand Body Polish. Browse our collection of exfoliators or take our Skin Quiz to discover products that can help you take your skin care to the next level.