Spring-cleaning isn’t only for your home. It’s also for your skin! Don’t neglect the largest organ in your body. Get it ready for the warmer, skin-baring months. Here are 10 ways to spring clean your skin from head to toe from Dr. Kally Papantoniou, Cosmetic Dermatologist, Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology.
- Scalp: To have healthier, shinier hair it begins with a clean scalp. Deep clean yours to remove any build up, which can lead to dull, limp, locks. Tea tree, grapeseed, coconut, bamboo extract, neem and moringa oils work wonders to deep clean and restore pH levels. Choose one of these oils, add a few drops to water and massage into your scalp. Dr. Papantoniou suggests seeing your dermatologist if scalp itching, dandruff and breakouts occur frequently. To remove heavy product build-up on the scalp and hair try diluting 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water for a scalp solution, allow this to soak on scalp and hair for 5-10 minutes and wash out. Apple cider vinegar gently exfoliates and restores PH.
- Ears: While people usually focus on how best to safely clean inner ear, we also must pay attention to the outer ear. Oftentimes when we neglect this area skin becomes flaky and dull. Take warm water combined with a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Dip a cotton swab into the mixture and gently rub along the crevasses of your outer ear and piercing holes, don’t forget to clean the back of the ears which can often be missed. Then pass a warm cloth with drops of your favorite oil (almond, coconut, or argan oil) to exfoliate and moisturize the softer thinner outer ear skin.
- Face: Schedule a deep cleansing, exfoliating facial with a professional. According to Dr. Papantoniou, people make the mistake of scrubbing too hard stripping the stratum corneum (the skin’s protective outer layer.) People falsely think burning and tightness means their cleanser is working when in actuality; it’s harming skin. She explains, “you want to deep clean but you don’t want to over dry and cause inflammation leading to more problems. See your dermatologist to get a skin assessment and then begin a regimen that provides a more customized clean.”
- Neck: Don’t forget about your neck. Typically all it gets is a fast swipe of a washcloth during a shower. That’s not enough. It’s common to see breakouts and darker ashy skin on an overlooked under-cleaned neck area. You can deep clean your neck area at home by using a combination of olive oil and sugar. Some people also use lemon juice but Dr. Papantoniou reminds people to avoid sun exposure after any exfoliation with lemon juice. Glycolic 5-10% pads or cleansing solution can also work wonders to exfoliate dull skin safely on the neck.
- Chest: Most people are typically concerned with sun-spots and wrinkles. Exfoliation does help address these concerns, and wearing SPF can help prevent them in the first place. However breakouts could be embarrassing and even painful. “The chest area is often covered up. We spray fragrance on our chests and perspire under our clothing. Women with deeper cleavage can experience rashes and breakouts,” explains Dr. Papantoniou. For people who are prone to breakouts she suggests using baking soda. “You want to steer clear of body washes with harsh chemicals that can add to the problem. Baking soda with warm water in a circular motion will help to gently exfoliate as a home remedy. Regular use of glycolic/salicylic acid pads 5-10% can also help prevent and treat flare-ups on the chest. Also, paying attention to diet may help. Be sure to eat foods rich in Omega 3’s that helps maintain skin elasticity, decrease dairy intake and avoid foods that have high glycemic index.
- Shoulders & Back: This is another area where breakouts can occur. Dr. Papantoniou suggests also using baking soda on the back. It’s also a hard to reach area for deeper cleaning. Back loofas reach the area, but are known to be a breeding ground for bacteria when left in the shower. The loofa should be cleaned by soaking it in a bleach solution and letting it air dry in a cool place. It should be replaced every 3 weeks.
- Belly Button! An often forgotten spot is the belly button. It’s not an easy place to keep clean, even when showering. 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 and bacteria that may lurk in this hidden spot.
- Buttocks: Keep your butt baby soft by exfoliating. Breakouts are common in this area and spas have responded with skin exfoliating treatments designed to leave the derriere smooth, glowing and bikini ready. Given this area is typically covered and rubbing against clothing all day, it’s common to have rashes or skin bumps. You can use the same at home exfoliating cleanser used on the neck. Dr. Papantoniou reminds people to exfoliate with gentle pressure in circular motions, no scrubbing.
- Knees & Elbows: The skin in these two areas is thicker, dryer and may turn either ashy or brighter pink depending on skin color. A thick paste made from baking soda and milk applied to a cloth and rubbed in circular motion three times weekly will help considerably. Maintain these rough areas with a lotion that contains urea (excipial brand) or lactic acid (amlactin brand), these can be found over the counter at the drug store.
- Feet: Of course a pedicure is a great way to get feet ready for open shoes after months of being hidden away. It is important to bring your own tools for clipping and cleaning nails and trimming cuticles, otherwise you risk getting an infection. An at home foot detox calls for 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. Then after 15 minutes rinse off and dry. Clean each toenail with a nail cleaning tool and moisturize with a few drops of baby oil.
About Dr. Kally Papantoniou
Dr. Kally Papantoniou is a Cosmetic Dermatologist, Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology. She specializes in Injectables, Lasers, Surgical and General Dermatology for adults and pediatrics. She commenced her academic career at NYU College of Arts and Science with a double major in Biology and Hellenic studies with Honors. She then stayed in New York for her medical school training at SUNY Downstate, and then matriculated and spent a year as a medicine intern at LIJ. Dr. Papantoniou then returned to train at the premier Dermatology Residency Program at SUNY Downstate. She has authored articles in her field, and has presented research at national meetings. Dr. Papantoniou focuses on providing her patients with the highest level of care; she is a superb diagnostician, with a special interest in natural and healthy alternatives to treatments and disease prevention. She has a strong artistic background and applies her skill at natural symmetry and study of lines to her cosmetic patients.