Right before I skipped town for the holidays, I treated myself to a spa day. Now, for a beauty editor, I have very little spa experience aside from the occasional manicure when I’m feeling spendy. I attribute this to my no-nonsense mother who has very little time for things like wrapping oneself in paraffin or lying still for an hour while hot rocks are placed on your back. An unnecessary extravagance, she’d say. But back to me.
It was a blustery, mid-December Sunday in Manhattan, and everything was OK because I was headed for a full body scrub at Red Door in Union Square. “What exactly is a full body scrub?” a friend asked me the morning before. Hell if I knew, but I was going to find out—only slightly petrified that the “scrub' part of the day would tear off my sensitive, molting-from-not-enough-moisture skin. (It should probably be noted that my own exfoliation technique is limited to a quick rub down with a loofa when I remember, and a love affair with a DIY sugar scrub I had last year when I was channeling Martha Stewart.)
Fast-forward to me stumbling through the locker room, pondering the robe and accompanying modesty skirt (was too big, but cozy and warm anyway), and drinking several glasses of fruit-infused water—not to mention the actual scrub and massage—and I was the softest person alive. For days. Like the “Why would I ever even shave my legs?” kind of soft. If you’ve never had that thought before, I assure you, it’s the most empowering thing that will ever happen to you. Which is why I resolved to exfoliate more. And to do it properly. But how?
I figured I’d go back to the source, so I enlisted Cornelia Zicu, Red Door’s chief creative officer, for some advice (that sounds polite, but the email read more along the lines of “I WAS SO SOFT, TELL ME HOW TO GET MORE SOFT”). As follows is her much more even-keeled reply:
“Dry brushing is very good for you as is stimulates the lymphatic system, increases circulation, and removes dead skin cells. But loofas and brushes are not my favorite, however, as they can catch bacteria and it can be difficult to keep them sterilized at home. For this reason I recommend and prefer using a scrub once per week. A salt scrub is an excellent choice for exfoliation if you have skin issue that may need healing, as the properties in salt are detoxifying and are a natural and healthy way to heal injury to the skin.
Coarse salt and sugar scrubs are not ideal for sensitive skin types. Look for a salt or sugar scrub exfoliator that is made with a very fine premium sugar particles, like our Red Door Spa Professional Orange Pomegranate Body Scrub. Begin with wet skin in the shower—warm-to-hot water is ideal to soften the skin. Allow the shower to run for 5-10 minutes and let the warm water soften the skin and prepare for exfoliation. Pause the running water while you exfoliate. Apply the sugar or salt scrub in a circular motion. It is important to maintain a gentle pressure not to damage the skin. You can start wherever is most convenient and comfortable, whether this is from the feet up or from the arms down. Rinse it all off with lukewarm water.
Don’t warm the scrub beforehand because you never know f the active ingredients were tested against that temperature and the scrub formula can be compromised. Your hot shower is enough to make you feel relaxed and to soften the skin for better exfoliation. Also, it’s not great to do a scrub before you shave your legs because you can irritate the skin, which creates a very stinging sensation.
If you use a body lotion as moisturizer after your daily shower, on exfoliation days, it is best to use a body oil as the pores are open to absorb oil best. After showering, pat dry skin, but leave skin with some moisture and left over water on the skin. It is important to leave skin a bit wet after the shower as this water will act as a carrier to absorb and draw in the oil for ultimate moisturization. To finish, wear a robe for 30 minutes, relax, and allow the oil to absorb.”
Photographed by Tom Newton.