How do you get a beach body? Bring your body to the beach. I’m a big believer of this mantra. Just be real and be you. People can feel self-conscious of their skin when they have many more square feet of it on display than usual. Outside of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, there are plenty of concerns that one can have with regard to their body skin – scaly elephant elbows (I’m very prone to this), keratosis pilaris, ingrown hairs, ashy and dry skin, cellulite and spotty backs and bums.
If you feel afflicted by any of these, read on!
How To Get Your Body Skin Beach Ready
Elbows and arms are some of the places that we are least likely to look after on our body – we have a propensity for cardigans here on our fine little island and we all choose cardigan over full body exfoliation and moisturisation from time to time. We get dry elbows for a number of reasons. Shower gels are considered absolutely essential for skin health, whereas many of them are alcohol-filled and highly-fragranced. Drying alcohols and perfumes strip our skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and more exposed to the elements. Yikes. Stick with a shower gel that protects and respects your skin and its protective lipid layer like Urban Veda’s Reviving Body Wash (€18.00).
One product that I’ve found incredible for “elephant elbows” as I call them – especially when they got to the point of the pain stopping me from sleeping – was the Avène XeraCalm A.D Balm. It essentially works to rebuild your skin’s lipids and thus reinforces your barrier. It also contains an anti-itch ingredient called I-modulia®, which is developed from a type of microflora found in Avène thermal water. Pop this bad boy anywhere that you have scaly, nearly painfully sore dryness.
Dry & Ashy Skin
What is ashy skin? It’s just dry skin to the point that it appears grey-ish or white-ish in colour – it may appear a bit chalky or too matte and it is incredibly common in those who shave their legs but forget or neglect to rehydrate their legs. The ashiness could be the effect of a build up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin so what you need to do is exfoliate. Does that mean an at-home sugar scrub? I don’t want no scrubs, not even for the body. You want to exfoliate with acids or enzymes so as not to cause damage to the skin. IMAGE’s Body Spa Rejuvenating Body Lotion is fabulous as it contains glycolic acid, antioxidants and peptides to help that ashiness slough right off whilst shielding the skin.
You gotta keep the skin hydrated too. I’m quite a fan of a body oil like TanOrganic’s Multi-Use Dry Oil (€24.99) as it is all from nuts and plants. I love me an active ingredients (aka your acids, your vitamin A and vitamin C and other ingredients in cosmeceutical skincare) but you don’t need every single thing in your routine to be active. It’s a very nourishing oil and it has quite a nice sheeny finish for those sundress days.
If you have ongoing problems with dryness, start taking an omega supplement as omegas help to support the skin’s barrier from the inside out.
Ingrown Hairs, Keratosis Pilaris & Bumps
Your hair follicles are your pores. Simple as. They are one and the same. So ingrown hairs are in essence hairs that have become trapped underneath skin cells so they have nowhere to go but back down to whence they came, causing the pore to sometimes become infected and fill with pus. Keratosis pilaris is caused by an overproduction of keratin in the skin which leads to it become trapped in the pore and ends in the signature “chicken skin” effect. Something that can help greatly with both of these things and most little bumps you find across the skin is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is an exfoliant that additionally can dissolve plugs and dead skin cells within the pore meaning that it stops bumps from growing and brings them down. A great salicylic acid product would be Waxperts Wonder Pads (€9.99), originally created for use in preventing ingrown hairs from forming post-wax but they’re truly wonder pads as they can be used on bug bites, ingrown hairs, KP, body spots… If it’s a bump, rub a Wonder Pad on it.
We can’t do much about cellulite. It affects nearly everyone and is just a natural part of life. One thing that I believe can help with the appearance is body brushing or dry brushing – there are many sceptics of this but I truly see results and find it great just for radiant body skin too. Essentially, body brushing stimulates lymphatic drainage, reducing puffiness in the skin, and circulation which can plump up the skin, even if only temporarily. All you have to do is, working from the feet upwards, rub the body brush on dry skin gently in circular motions towards the heart. When doing your arms and your upper body, once again, work from the furthest points such as your hands towards the heart. It adds about 3-5 minutes to your daily routine but I believe it to be absolutely worth it.
Spotty Backs & Bums
You may get facial spots and no body spots, you may get both or you may only get spots on your back or bum – sometimes, life is a bit unfair. It is hard to decipher the exact reasons that people get congestion on their body. It can be your washing powder, it can be the shower gel you’re using, it can be repetitive friction from bags and things like that, it can be from wearing non-breathable clothing, among bazillions of other reasons. If you think it’s any of those things, try to exclude them from your life if possible. It sounds like a big ask but if you really want rid of them, just go buy some cotton knickers and quit your whining (I jest, I know that it can be a true struggle to deal with).
If you get body spots, you can use a cleanser that includes salicylic acid as your regular shower gel maybe once every two days or every day, depending on how strong your cleanser is and how resilient your skin is. The Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser (€39.50) is great for this purpose, as it contains salicylic acid as well as lactic acid, which is a hydrating AHA, and glycolic acid, so it would act as your general exfoliant too. If that’s a bit out of your budget, the Urban Veda Purifying Body Wash (€17.99) contains witch hazel and tea tree oil, two natural ingredients that act as anti-bacterial astringents. In hooman terms, this means that it can help to reduce bacteria on the skin and help with the skin’s regulation of oils which may aid in your spot issue.
If you’re trying to prep your body for your holiday, get started on doing this sooner rather than later. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as our Nerdettes say. For maximum benefits, the longer you do it for, the better but definitely don’t stop on holidays! Bring your products with you and do it all the way through ’em to keep that glow going (however, be wary of acids as they can make the skin more photosensitive) and don’t forget a high factor, broad spectrum sunscreen either.