As a hairdresser, you probably keep a clean scalp and nails, which is a good start toward “spring cleaning” yourself. Professional beauty industry brands offer a variety of cleansers to target specific areas, while Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a cosmetic dermatologist certified by the American Board of Dermatology, provides some generic “home remedy” suggestions. Starting at the top and going south, Papantoniou identifies 10 skin areas to address to make sure you’re shiny new with healthy skin this season:
- Scalp. Just as you tell your clients, you need to periodically remove product buildup. “Tea tree, grapeseed, coconut, bamboo extract, neem and moringa oils work wonders to deep clean and restore pH levels,” Papantoniou observes. “Choose one of these oils, add a few drops to water and massage into your scalp.” To remove heavy build-up, she suggests diluting 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water and allowing it to soak on the scalp and hair for 5-10 minutes. If you have persistent itching, dandruff or irritation, see a dermatologist.
- Ears. “While people usually focus on how best to safely clean inner ear, we also must pay attention to the outer ear,” Papantoniou notes. To keep this skin from becoming flaky and dull, she suggests combining warm water with a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and using a cotton swab to gently rub along the crevasses of your outer ear, the back of the ears and any piercing holes. Then pass a warm cloth with drops of almond, coconut or argan oil to exfoliate and moisturize.
- Face. As a cosmetologist, you either work at a spa or have a favorite spa! Make sure you book a deep-cleansing, exfoliating facial regularly and following your esthetician’s recommendations for cleansing at home.
- Neck. Without proper cleaning, a neck can host breakouts and take on a dark, ashy appearance. Papantoniou suggests using olive oil and sugar. If you add lemon juice, Papantoniou causions you to avoid sun exposure. “Glycolic 5-10% pads or cleansing solution can also work wonders to exfoliate dull skin safely on the neck,” she says.
- Chest. Exfoliation helps fight sun-spots and wrinkles, but Papantoniou urges you to wear SPF for the best protection against the sun’s aging rays. “The chest area is often covered up,” she adds. “We spray fragrance on our chests and perspire under our clothing. Women with deeper cleavage can experience rashes and breakouts.” Avoid harsh chemicals if you’re prone to breakouts, and instead apply baking soda in warm water, using a circular motion to gently exfoliate. “Regular use of glycolic/salicylic acid pads 5-10% can also help prevent and treat flare-ups on the chest, and paying attention to diet may help,” she says. She recommends eating foods rich in omega 3 oils, limiting dairy and avoiding foods that have high glycemic index.
- Shoulders and back. Treat the back skin the way you treat the chest skin, Papantoniou recommends. While you may need a back loofa to reach the area, Papantoniou says that these loofas “are known to be a breeding ground for bacteria when left in the shower. The loofa should be soaked in a bleach solution, air-dried in a cool place and replaced every three weeks.”
- Belly Button! “The belly button is not an easy place to keep clean, even when showering,” Papantoniou conceded. “Clean it the way you do your outer ears—hydrogen peroxide combined with water does wonders. Then apply your favorite oil to this delicate area to protect the skin. Virgin coconut oil provides natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. These two steps will deep-clean the area, killing any bacteria that may lurk in this hidden spot.
- Buttocks. Exfoliate your butt to keep it soft and smooth. “Given this area is typically covered and rubbing against clothing all day, it’s common to have rashes or skin bumps,” Papantoniou says. “Use the same exfoliating cleanser you’re using on the neck, and apply gentle pressure in circular motions with no scrubbing.” She also suggests going to the spa for a full treatment before bikini season.
- Knees and elbows. “The skin in these two areas is thicker, dryer and may turn either ashy or brighter pink depending on skin color,” Papantoniou says. “A thick paste made from baking soda and milk applied to a cloth and rubbed in circular motion three times weekly will help considerably.” Some skin care products are designed specifically for tougher skin.
- Feet. It is definitely pedicure season! For an at-home foot detox, Papantoniou suggests soaking feet in Epsom salt and hot, but not boiling, water for 15 minutes. Use a pumice stone to remove dead skin. Follow up by applying a paste comprised of bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar; after 15 minutes, rinse off and dry. Clean each toenail with a nail cleaning tool and moisturize with a few drops of baby oil.
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