Exfoliating Rituals


When Sloughing Off Is A Good Thing
For all the forms it’s taken through the millennia—from Cleopatra to Desdemona to almost any given geisha—legendary beauty does have one notable through-line. No, not a pearly white smile (the pretty people of many a culture have painstakingly dyed their teeth black)—but rather, skin as “smooth as monumental alabaster,” to borrow from Shakespeare’s notes on Desdemona. And unlike other so many other fabled #beautygoals, this one was—and still is—a pleasure to pursue. In fact, exfoliating rituals tend to be the very antithesis of suffering for beauty. Whether you’re soaking in natural ingredients from your kitchen, or giving some fabulous new luxury body care products a whirl, polishing your skin is one of the most pampering experiences you can have. As for the particulars, there are endless variations, but here are three favorites:

Channel Cleopatra And Soak In A Milk Bath
The lactic acid found in dairy products serves as a gentle, natural chemical exfoliant, allowing you to lie back and peace out as the sloughing is done for you (the acid helps break down bonds that hold dead skin cells in place). If you don’t have access to a vast herd of African donkeys and an attendant milking team (as Cleo is said to have had), no matter: Any milk—ideally whole, organic and powdered—will do (the powder form packs, among other things, more concentrated skin-smoothing power). There’s no firm rule on how much to use—experts tend to recommend something in the one- to two-cup range—but you’ll almost certainly want to add a few drops of essential oil for an aromatherapeutic bonus. When in doubt, go lavender for the added stress relief. And to make the ritual feel extra indulgent, add a handful of rose petals—fresh or dried.

Bathe In Another Chemical Exfoliant: Wine
Ever more spas are appropriating sake soaks, for example, from the ancient geisha beauty world, where fermented rice enzymes have long been known to slough and soften skin. Of course, there are entire destination and day spas dedicated to vinotherapy, where you can soak in wine baths, while certain luxury hotels offer Champagne baths. But whatever grape is used, the principal is the same: Naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acids will loosen your dead skin cells’ bonds while you soak. To replicate any of these rituals at home, add at least a cup of wine to your tub. But if you’ve got a bottle that’s about to lose its luster (or bubbly that’s almost flat) bottoms up (into the bathwater). Of course, if your tub is particularly porous, you may want to stick with white varietals.

Let A Product Do The Polishing For You
This, of course, is the version of sloughing that probably comes to mind before any other. You’re essentially using a fabulous-feeling (and ideally, gentle) grit to remove dead cells manually—and if a spa therapist happens to be on hand to do the honors, wonderful. But otherwise, you can easily borrow professional techniques to create an indulgent and effective self-care ritual at home: Filling one palm with a luxury body care product—good choices include two COPPER+CRANE exfoliators: Charcoal Body Polish and Jojoba Body Buff—rub your hands together to warm the product slightly. Then, starting at your feet, scrub gently in a circular motion as you make your way up your body. Repeat the process as you work from your hands to your heart, then treat your skin to a healthy dose of moisture after you’ve rinsed off and patted your skin most of the way—but not totally—dry.