By Lola Augustine Brown
Shedding layers of winter fleece and wool can lead to feelings of dread. You wonder, How did my skin get so dry? Can I really show the world these legs? When did I inherit my mother’s décolletage?
Fear not, there are ways to revitalize your body that will leave you looking and feeling fabulous.
First Things First
Before anything, you need to exfoliate and moisturize. Allison Hegedus, president of Vida Spas, which has five locations in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, says that when you move from winter into spring, your skin is already dehydrated and will only get more so with exposure to sun. “The first step is exfoliation, because you need to remove the layer of dead skin that has accumulated,” she says.
Exfoliation is as simple as sloughing off the dead skin cells to allow the fresher-looking new skin to show through. This isn’t something you need to go to a spa to have done, but a thorough all-over exfoliation at a spa is ideal if you have limited flexibility—and it’s a great way to celebrate the spring season. If you do get a spa exfoliation, expect it to be followed by a deep moisturizing treatment or massage. “That will really rehydrate the skin,” Hegedus says. The feelings of serene bliss that may follow are a bonus.
Whether you choose DIY or go to a spa, you’ll likely find an exfoliation comes either via a sugar or salt scrub. Hegedus says that salt is good for thicker skin, while sugar is good on more sensitive skin because it melts as you use it and is less harsh.
When it comes to choosing a scrub or body moisturizer, you’ll find no shortage of options, because cosmetics companies have learned that concerns about aging go beyond how just our faces are faring.
“People are thinking about the neck, décolletage, and hands. As a result, companies are really starting to pay attention to body care; it’s been a definite trend over the past few years,” says Simon Tooley, owner of beauty-product store ETIKET Boutique in Montreal.
Tooley says that you’re going to find the same types of ingredients in these products that you will in anti-aging facial products, meaning that they’ll provide the same results.
“There’s going to be vitamins A, C, and E, retinol, peptides, and even growth factor, which wasn’t the case a few years ago.”
If you don’t know where to begin, Tooley suggests going to a store and asking for advice on products in the anti-aging category.
“There’s always going to be an element of trial and error while you work out what works for you and what doesn’t, and personal preference and sensitivities also play a role,” he says. “If you’re already using a skin-care line that has a body product, follow through and use that one, as chances are that it will work for your body and you won’t be sensitive to it.”
If you are going to use a product with anti-aging ingredients on your body, the same rules apply as to your face: these products can make your skin more photosensitive, Tooley says, so you must always use sunscreen. And, as sun exposure is the primary cause of skin-aging, you should always be using it anyway. “Make it a rule of thumb: once you get out of your shower, put on sunscreen so you don’t forget and find yourself out in the sun at lunchtime with no protection,” Hegedus says.
Dealing With Cellulite
Having a dimpled butt and thighs is of great concern to many of us, so it’s no small wonder that many cellulite-busting lotions, potions, and wraps are available. Sadly though, cellulite isn’t easy to get rid of.
“Nothing really cures cellulite,” Tooley warns. What you can do is reduce its appearance and make your skin look better even if you do have some.
Hegedus recommends using an exfoliation product or body product with caffeine in it, as caffeine dehydrates fat cells, making them less visible.
“Massage can help, especially localized massage on areas that you’re particularly concerned about,” she says. “A good Swedish massage is going to break up all the fatty tissue, and lymphatic-drainage massage will flush it out of your body.” Just be sure to discuss which area concerns you the most with your massage therapist so that he or she can focus on it for you.
The Next Level
While taking better care of yourself and using the right products will make a considerable difference in the appearance of your skin, these actions aren’t the fastest and most effective ways of tackling signs of aging. There are spas, often called medi-spas, that go beyond traditional treatments and that can produce quite stunning results.
Jolanta Romel-Jarski, owner of Jolanta’s European Spa in Waterloo, ON, says that by using laser treatments, she is able to remove growths on the face or body such as keratoses, brown spots, safe moles, cherry angiomas, and skin tags. Lasers can also be used to erase signs of broken capillaries.
“This is a non-invasive treatment that cauterizes the growth and causes the water in it to evaporate. The resulting scab falls off and doesn’t leave scarring such as what we see with liquid nitrogen, when you have things removed at the doctor’s office,” she says, adding that many doctors send clients her way for this reason.
Laser treatments are generally painless (though you may feel some discomfort during and after) and not as expensive as one might assume. For example, at Jolanta’s European Spa, you could have both hands treated for $200 and one treatment may be enough to remove all those pesky brown age spots. So long as you use sunscreen on your hands after treatment, the results can be long-lasting.
Other treatments you’ll find at medi-spas include chemical peels and micro-needling procedures (the use of super-fine needles to create a controlled injury to promote natural healing and collagen production), both of which can immediately make the skin smoother and tighter, as well as reduce the appearance of scars and fine lines.
If you’re interested in these types of treatments, the first step is to make an appointment at a spa and develop a plan.
Romel-Jarski says that clients are often spurred into taking action because they have a wedding or some other function to attend, and depending on budget and how fast they need results, they’ll work out the most appropriate treatments. “Whatever issue someone has with his or her skin, we have a solution,” she says. “Ideally we’ll start treatment three-to-six months in advance of whatever that big event is.”
However you choose to treat your skin, whether at home or by getting expert help, Hegedus says she can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your skin through eating well.
“By consuming vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods, you can repair your skin from the inside,” she says. “And of course drink lots of water; that really helps the skin stay hydrated.”