How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Legs?

Winter is not kind to skin. It dries out once glowing, sun-kissed skin and turns it flaky in no time. With this in mind, you may be wondering: How often should I exfoliate my legs in winter? Because you may need a solution to get rid of the dead skin cells building up on your pins. Although, there is such a thing as exfoliating too much — you don't want to take it to the extreme and leave your legs rubbed red raw from over-exfoliation.

During summer, you probably have your leggy skin care routine perfected, especially if you're someone who shaves their legs. There's a lot of upkeep involved with hair removal, exfoliating, and moisturizing to get your legs looking silky smooth during summer. As the colder months creep into view, chances are, you won't have your legs out as often and consequently, if you're a gal who likes to de-fuzz, you might not shave as much as you would in summer. But, does this mean you don't need to exfoliate as much in winter? Or is it best to keep exfoliating regularly to keep your pins in tip-top condition?

“Don’t exfoliate during the winter, even if your legs are dry,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky, tells Bustle over email. “When you scratch and see flakes fly off, that’s the top layer of your skin, starved of moisture. It isn’t excess skin that needs to be scrubbed off. It actually protects the fresh skin underneath it from infection and harsh weather,” explains Dr. Prystowsky. "You need to reinforce this layer, by rehydrating it, so that your skin is better protected. Nine times out of ten, your legs are just dry and need to be moisturized!”

“But if you’re not convinced, I’ll break down what happens if you exfoliate during the winter,” says Dr. Prystowsky. “Your flaky skin will be gone, and you’ll have a fresh clean layer to show off. It may feel a little tender. So if you’re prepared, you’ll use a heavy moisturizer to protect this fresh skin from drying out. If not, then that unprotected skin will dry out very quickly,” she elaborates.

“When you notice in a couple days that your legs are dry again, you may be tempted to exfoliate. If you do, you’ll notice that your skin doesn’t seem to stay ‘fresh’ for long. After regular exfoliation you’ll start ‘training’ your skin to produce new skin cells at a faster rate,” explains Dr. Prystowsky, “that’s how athletes get callouses in high use areas. In a way, your skin will start to callous in response to the regular exfoliation. This is the exact opposite of what you want.”

“At the end of the day, everybody just wants nice, smooth skin. When you’re flaky, there’s nothing you’ll want more than to get rid of the flakiness,” says Dr. Prystowsky. “Even though exfoliating will do that, it’s not the permanent solution. Save it for a special occasion at most. What you should really do is reduce the amount of cleanser you use, and increase the amount of moisturizer you use.”

However, if you’re wondering how you’re going to achieve smooth legs for your next winter party and you’re now a little concerned about your current exfoliation and shaving routine, there is another hair removal option.

“Winter is a great time to start sugaring your legs — as opposed to shaving everyday, which does exfoliate your skin by removing the top layers, but it does dry your skin out and makes you more prone to ingrown hairs,” explains Hibba Kapil, founder of Hibba Beauty, over email.

"Sugaring, which is a service we specialize in at Hibba Beauty, is a natural method of hair removal made of sugar, lemon, and hot water that will leave you smooth for weeks,” says Kapil. “Sugaring also exfoliates your skin making it another great reason to do this in the winter time. Plus, it will help you get ready for summer as your hair grows less frequently after each session,” she explains.

It seems the moral of the skin story is to exfoliate as rarely as possible. But, if needs must and you require super smooth legs quick, try sugaring as a gentler exfoliant and hair removal method, to keep you fuzz-free until summer.

Images: PhotoAlto/Shutterstock; Viliman Viliman (1), Brad Helmink (1), Cristian Newman (1) /Unsplash; Milotze (1), xusenru (1) /Pixabay