How To Become A Big Softie


For some time now, my M.O. for sheltering in place has been to let it all hang out. No workout routine since I threw my back out after a very impassioned phone call (long story), and I took down my braids, so my gravity-defying hair is out and free to move as it pleases. Even my relationship to post-shower body moisturizers is laissez-faire, where I seldom use them, despite knowing that my skin easily dries up. I had a twinge of remorse about that when my girlfriend hit me up a few weeks ago: She wanted to visit after we’d both been self-quarantining for months. I was both thrilled and worried. My rough was it? Was it touchable? Was I soft enough? Since I need my skin to be supple for relationship reasons (how else will I stupefy my girlfriend into forgetting I ate the last miso chocolate chip cookie? Or make her think it’s her turn to do the dishes?) it was time to whip my body into shape.

Each week, I’ve tried one of these tenderizing treatments, starting with:

Serious scrubs

It’s a habit I picked up from my Nigerian mother who’s never seen a pumice stone she didn’t like, or an exfoliating mesh washcloth she could keep away from our bathrooms. The process is simple: Choose your favorite body scrubbing tool––ideally one with thousands of tiny, exfoliating ridges woven into it–then soak it through, add your favorite sudsy soap, and go to town. As you scrub every cranny and corner, it helps to visualize your ideal level of smoothness: A baby dolphin? A bowl of marbles? Perhaps...a baby dolphin chilling in a bowl of marbles? Mine’s Steve Lacy. After smoothing my body into a nub, I used a body treatment that...

Gently sloughed off dead skin

No matter how much I scrub-a-dub, little patches of dry skin and rough bumps stick tend to stick around. Turns out, physical scrubs are great for getting my body smooth enough, but to reach ultimate softness, I’ll need to refine with a moisturizing chemical exfoliator. They’re great at turning over the topmost layer of skin, keeping objectively unromantic flakes away for longer. Highest praise goes to Ren’s AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum and Paula’s Choice BHA Body Treatment, two exfoliating body lotions that give the best tenderizing magic per ounce. A thin layer applied a couple times a week is all that’s needed to make my skin feel cushioned and immediately glazed, while also alleviating stubborn patches of KP. But just to cover my bases, I...

Went full body peel

Slipping on a pair of Baby Foot booties and watching your feet rid itself of every dry chunk of skin is something everyone should experience at least once, but preferably before your boo comes over. So a week before she arrived, I began my Baby Foot adventure and combined it with a full-body peel. Is it crazy that the full-body peel was a better experience overall? StackedSkincare’s TCA Lactic & Glycolic Body Peel doesn’t sting or make my skin shed. Instead, it leaves me with a body that’s a lot more silky and a lot less dull and breakout-prone. Ah, it's nice to be a softie.

—Utibe Mbagwu

Photo via ITG