It’s been almost a month since the debut edition of the New York Times Men’s Style Section appeared, and I’m still thinking about it. Why did I ever start thinking about it, you might be wondering, and the reason has to do with it physically passing under my nose one morning while I was eating breakfast. I started reading it because it was aesthetically pleasing (as most things related to men’s fashion should be).
One of the articles discussed the importance of the male body scrub. Apparently aggressive scrubbing is an integral part of the male beauty regimen, especially at this time of year, because dead skin builds up on the skin over time. Exfoliating, which is ultimately the process of scrubbing off a layer of skin, leaves the skin vulnerable in the winter, so spring weather offers a friendlier climate.
The article was targeted at men but it got me thinking about spring beauty routines, and specifically, how to transition from winter to spring. Our skin, and the rest of our body, goes through a lot in cold weather. Dry skin, eczema, chapped lips, to name a few. On the trippiest of winter days, when the sun is shining but the temperature is in the low teens, we face windburn, sunburn, and frostbite. It’s not fair to us, it’s not fair to our skin.
It might be the end of April, but traces of winter are still in the air, at least in New York, where the low was a solid 36 degrees a couple days ago. Inspired by the male body scrub and the contents of my own kitchen and bathroom cabinets, I crafted a spring beauty detox that when done in the relaxed, spa-like setting of your own home, will help you shed winter once and for all.
What you’ll need: A warm bath, a washcloth, bath mitts or bath gloves, sugar or salt, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil.
Phase One: The Master Scrub
One of my mom’s favorite things in life is a Korean body scrub, where a therapist attacks your bare skin with mitts until you’re surrounded by a pile of dead skin cells. My master scrub is inspired by both the Korean body scrub and the men’s exfoliating routine mentioned above. The purpose is the same: To remove all the dead skin of cold days past. Scrubbing with something as basic as body soap won’t exfoliate your skin, and you can easily make your own scrub with oil and either salt or sugar. Salt is more drying than sugar, and I need a break from dry skin, so I choose sugar.
Whichever ingredients you choose, you should use two parts sugar to one part oil. After mixing in a jar, head to the bathroom. Apply the mixture bit by bit and with your bare hands or bath mitts, scrub in a circular motion. Once your body feels tingly and exfoliated, rinse off.
Phase Two: The Vinegar Hair Rinse
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a much-discussed ingredient in the discourse on natural beauty and it deserves the attention it gets because it’s a real miracle worker. Apparently, ACV removes build up from our scalp that causes our hair to look dull. I find its smell acrid but the clumps of product it washes away make the odor worth it. Stand with your head back, a bottle of vinegar in hand, and pour the vinegar on your head, making sure to massage the scalp. Don’t rinse out! Leaving the vinegar in will soften your hair and reduce tangles. Brave the smell while your hair is still wet and don’t worry, as soon as it dries, you won’t smell a thing.
Phase Three: The Hot Bath Detox
After coming home from college one winter break feeling exhausted from the lethal combination of too much studying and partying, I read up on detoxes. I had nothing better to do with my time off, so I tried everything from the Master Cleanse to a pomegranate juice diet to rid my body of toxins. I got through less than a day on each cleanse, but the one thing that stuck was the hot bath detox, devised by me and heavily inspired by Goop’s winter cleanse.
It’s based on the simple myth that sweating releases toxins. I don’t know this to be scientifically true but I also don’t know what constitutes a toxin. I do know that when I feel like I’ve consumed too much sugar or alcohol, or am generally stressed, my body needs to sweat out whatever’s making me feel not right and hot baths expedite the process.
Fill your tub up with water that’s hotter than what you usually bathe in. When you step in the bath, it should be hot but not uncomfortably so. Your body will start sweating immediately. The longer you lie in the bath the better, but try to stay in for at least 20 minutes. If you start to feel too hot, add cold water. When you’re done, get out of the bath slowly. Warning: You might feel lightheaded. Even if you don’t, start chugging water. You’ve just lost a fair amount of fluids that you need to replenish. Since you also just scrubbed a layer of skin off your body, be sure to moisturize. Lather up in coconut oil, then wrap yourself in a blanket or towel and go to bed. You want to stay as warm as possible so you continue sweating out toxins overnight. When you wake up, you’ll be an acidic, sweaty mess but feelin’ light and fresh. Dead skin cells, scalp build up, toxins — all gone. Maybe shower before leaving the house.
Images: Author's Own