Wednesday, June 15, 2011

5 Reasons to Scrub and Polish

No, I’m not talking about your bathroom tiles or even the kitchen floor.  I’m talking about the skin on your body –the 95% of skin you have which is so often neglected, under-functioning and unable to do its most important work.

Which begs the question: What is your skin’s most important work?  To look pretty and feel smooth?  To glow with a golden tan or shimmer with pale incandescence?  If you remember back to 7th Grade science class, you may remember the teacher explaining that skin is primarily involved in temperature regulation of the body and that it is also the body’s primary detoxing organ.  Is it all coming back to you now?
Detoxing.  An average body in an average climate loses about 2 litres of sweat per day, of which an estimated 450g is solid waste product.  Eeeew.  So if your skin is clogged and less than optimally functioning, some of that solid waste stays in your body; that makes you tired, reduces sleep quality, slows down your organ function and depresses your immune system.

Scrubbing and polishing of the body’s skin has 5 main benefits:

  1. Gently scrubbing and polishing clears clogged pores and removes potential infection from the base of hair follicles – basically that means less pimples, spots and in-grown hairs and more efficient sweating and waste removal;
  2. Removing the surface layer of dead skins cells enables the skin to better absorb moisture and the nutrients we may apply through plant-based oils;
  3. Gently scrubbing and polishing stimulates blood flow in the sub-structure of the skin; apart from assisting with the more efficient removal of wastes into the blood stream, stimulating the circulation also encourages the growth of healthy new skin cells and a better flow of important nutrients to those cells;
  4. Removing the surface layer of dull dead skin DOES make your skin softer, smoother and nicer to feel – it evens out the rough texture and reduces itching and irritation.
  5. Improved blood flow to the sub-structure of the skin WILL make your skin glow and look both younger and more attractive, although that’s not primarily why we scrub and polish. 

Scrubbing and polishing needs to be done gently (no redness!) and with a natural product.  Many commercial scrubs contain plastic scrub beads – they happily sit in the oil-based scrub leeching their toxic component chemicals into the scrub.  Some of the natural scrubs use nut shells, but these are often too harsh for the skin and damage its surface, adding to broken capillaries, redness and leaving you vulnerable to bacteria and irritation after the scrub treatment.  Read the label of your scrub or body polish.  Does it contain chemicals, petro-chemical oils (like “white” or “mineral” oil?) or synthetic “fragrance”?  If it does, toss it out.  It completely defeats the purpose of the detoxing scrub and polish if the product you are using merely adds to your body’s toxic load. 

What about loofahs or mitts instead of a product?  That’s fine but only if you boil it after each and every scrub so the dead skin cells and bacteria you are removing aren’t sitting happily breeding in your bathroom each day, ready to add to the problem when you next use the loofah tomorrow.  A fine clay exfoliating stone is a wonderful alternative to dirty loofahs and mitts, and also wonderfully hygienic. Always remember, use it gently! 

How often to scrub and polish?  Not everyone is the same.  If you are sick, actively fasting and/or in a detox program, probably daily – maybe after your herbal steam.  For “normal” people, maybe 2 or 3 times week is optimal. 

Always finish your skin treatment with a tiny amount of rich, natural plant-based oil to nourish and moisturize the skin.

Remembering the “why” of body scrub and polish helps us to understand why it’s actually not a beauty treatment but rather an important part of natural health management that adds to our personal wellness. 

Scrub, polish, smile, glow, enjoy.

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