When the outdoor temperature drops in the winter, so does the moisture in the air — and that can wreak havoc on your skin, leaving it dry, flaky and itchy. Fortunately, soothing your winter skin doesn’t require shelling out a lot of money.
Get your skin ready for warmer weather with these natural, DIY exfoliant techniques from around the world — with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. These treatments, inspired by cultures from the Mediterranean to the Middle East, are not only more exotic than your average body scrub, but are kinder to Mother Nature and budget friendly to boot.
Moisturize Mediterranean Style
The ancient Greeks and Romans were pretty meticulous about their skin care. One popular treatment actually involved having a servant slather the skin with olive oil and then scrape it off with a small blade called a strigil. We’re guessing you probably don’t have access to a servant or a strigil, but you can combine the beautifully moisturizing properties of olive oil with another Mediterranean basic: sea salt. And, presto, you’ve got an instant exfoliator for just a few dollars.
How-to: Mix about a quarter-cup of olive oil with a half cup of sea salt (fine or coarse, it’s up to you) in a bowl and add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or rosemary if you like. Use a damp washcloth to apply the mixture to your skin in a circular motion, then rinse off.
Refresh Your Skin With Rice Bran
Generations of Japanese women have used a simple daily routine of scrubbing with rice bran to make their skin look flawless. Not only is bran rich in nutrients like Vitamin E, it’s also gentle enough to use on the face and especially sensitive skin.
How-to: Mix a couple of spoonfuls of rice bran into a paste with a liquid of your choice. You can use just water or green tea if your skin is oily, or milk and/or honey for drier skin. Apply to skin in a circular motion and rinse off.
Indulge in an Indian Scrub
Yogurt is a wonderfully natural chemical exfoliant because it’s rich in lactic acid, which removes dead skin cells. It’s also soothing and moisturizing, which has made it a popular part of traditional beauty routines in India. For an extra scrubbing boost, add in some fine flour like chickpea flour.
How-to: Mix yogurt (whole-milk yogurt for dry skin or reduced-fat for oilier skin) with a bit of flour or dry oatmeal in a bowl and apply to skin. Let dry and rinse off with a washcloth using a circular motion.
Mend Your Skin Middle Eastern Style
The essential routine in any Turkish bathhouse involves a good scrub. For thousands of years, a popular scrubber has been a dried gourd known as an Egyptian loofah. You can find loofahs in their natural, gourd-shaped state, but a good loofah mitt can be easier to handle. Using it on dry skin before a shower can leave your skin polished and invigorated.
How-to: If your skin is especially dry, massage some olive or coconut oil into your skin before you exfoliate. To make it especially luxurious, add a few drops of essential oil as well. Starting at your feet, sweep the mitt in long strokes toward your heart to encourage good circulation. Work your way up to your neck, but never use a loofah on your face — it’s too harsh.
Sample a South Pacific Skin-Soothing Scrub
Like yogurt, pineapple is a fantastic chemical exfoliant because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that removes dead skin while reducing inflammation. While you can simply rub a piece of pineapple on your face, let it sit for a minute and rinse off, you can also mix it with sugar and oil for a nourishing scrub.
How-to: In a blender or food processor, mix a cup of chopped pineapple with a cup of sugar and a bit of olive oil until it becomes a thick paste. Apply with a washcloth and rinse off after a minute or two.