How (And Why) To… exfoliate Roman style.

Warning: this post contains grossness. Gross picture. Gross. You have been warned.

Exfoliation is a common practice and for good reason. Between skin oils, dirt and grime from outside, makeup and other assorted elements, our skin often has a greasy film over it that sticks dead skin cells, dust and dirt to our bodies. Exfoliation gently removes this whilst stimulating the healthy skin to keep our pores clean and our natural barriers strong. All in all, exfoliation can improve our skin health, produce a radiant glow, eliminate dirt and discourage acne and black heads.

Which is why I’m surprised that we only use gritty exfoliants, like sand, sugar, salt or walnut shells, to clean our skin.

You see, a good part of exfoliation is scraping. And when we use a gritty rub, we aren’t really scraping all our skin. Sure, we think soap will “get it”, but the reality is quite different.

For illustration purposes, this is my two day unexfoliated face.

Roman Exfoliation How To

Bear in mind that the above picture is older as I forgot to take that day’s “before”, so my face is a bit plumper. However the complexion is a perfect illustration of my usual skin health a few days without exfoliating.

This face is washed once or twice daily with a bit of soapy water and when I wear makeup I use baby wipes to remove it before the end of the day, missing only a bit of eyeliner each time. So how much grime could be on this face?

How about this much grime?

Roman Exfoliation How To

Normally I would use a soap or a natural oil to lift it more easily, but specially for you guys, this is just the oils and sediments that build up on my face when I don’t do deep exfoliation.

That is a lot of grime, right?

Yet this is how my face looks literally minutes after a Roman exfoliation, which removes all that nasty buildup:

Roman Exfoliation How To

And that is why we need to try and learn to exfoliate, Roman style.

1: The oils.

The first step to Roman exfoliation is something we all would rather avoid putting on our skin: oil. But like dissolves like and as the thing that is gluing all this gunk to our skin is oil, using an oil to dissolve it is only natural. Pick a soft oil like olive oil or coconut oil and apply a thin coat, just enough to get a little foam, over the body part you want to exfoliate.

Start under a warm shower, to open the pores. Step away from the stream. Rub in the oil nice and gently until it’s warm and a bit foamy. Let it sink and rub it again before moving on to scraping.

Ancestral origin: The Romans did this with olive oil!

2: The scraper.

Here anything that is firm but a bit soft will do. The scrapers you get with hair removal gels work great for large body parts, as does plastic cutlery, but for face and neck I much prefer just to use my nails. Pick something that scrapes off the oil, but doesn’t irritate your skin much.

Then, drag it over your skin, rinsing after each stroke. You want to lift off the oil and then wash it away, along with the grime it’s loosened. Press down firmly on spot and blackhead prone areas to empty and cleanse the pores and squeeze out any excess oils.

Ancestral origin: The Romans used a copper scythe-shaped scraper and were often assisted by servants!

3: The rinse.

Once you’re all scraped, wash yourself down in warm water. If your skin is dry or healthy you may want to use a bit of soap just to take away the remaining oil. But if your skin is very oily you don’t want to dry it too much, or your body’s natural oil production could be messed up even more. Just be patient and let the water do most of the work.

Once you no longer feel any oil on your skin, turn the water temperature as cold as you can stand it and wash yourself in it, to close the pores and tighten the skin.

Ancestral origin: The Romans loved nothing better than a cool dip after a good wash!

4: Drying.

Were possible, air dry your skin. Any extra rubbing or stimulation could worsen any slight abrasions and encourage your skin to produce more oil defensively.

If you can’t air dry, at least just pat gently with a very soft, nicely clean towel.

5: Frequency.

I don’t recommend doing this more than every other day. Scraping causes slight abrasions on the skin and, even though they won’t bleed or hurt, they can build up over time. A day is all it should take to recover, but a 48 hour cycle gives you safer parameters.

But don’t worry! Even though my skin is quite pink in that post-shower picture, this is how I look a mere four hours later:

Roman Exfoliation How To

It isn’t dangerous. It’s very healthy and good for your skin. Just be careful with it, is all.

After all, most Romans didn’t shower or wash every day and you can definitely have too much of a good thing!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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15 Tricks for Better Skin.

Everyone loves healthy skin. And everyone loves having nice, pretty soft skin. But not everyone is blessed with adamantine skin that survives anything and comes out looking like we’re on the cover of a magazine. I know I’m not. We all get the odd pimple, blackhead, greasy spot or dry area from time to time. And it’s unreasonable to ask everyone to stay indoors all day, wash their face ten times a day and never eat anything inflammatory or allergenic. So here are 15 tips to make sure you have great skin as often as possible.

1: Drink more water.

The biggest cause of all skin issues is dehydration. Even oily skin, heavy sweats and water retention, that look like they might be caused by excess water, can be triggered by dehydration. If you naturally drink very little or a lot, this doesn’t mean you need to add a litre or two a day, just a glass when you get up and a glass when you go to bed can make a massive difference.

2: Exfoliate.

Using a rough grain exfoliator like a sugar or coconut shell scrub can do wonders for you. It can prevent ingrown hairs, reduce the number of blackheads and even thicken and darken the skin over stretch marks, reducing their appearance.

3: Vitamin D.

Your skin is designed to produce Vitamin D when it’s in contact with sunlight. The amount of Vitamin D in our bodies nowadays, when we spend so little time outside, is very low. So it stands to reason that our skin suffers from this lack of Vitamin D. I have noticed my skin lost some of its ashen complexion and the dark circles under my eyes disappeared after some Vitamin D supplementation. This is especially important for people with darker skin, as higher melanin content makes it harder for your body to make Vitamin D!

4: Scrape pores.

In the same vein as exfoliation, but where exfoliation is prevention, scraping is the cure. When you have blackheads or open pores, this can really help. Take a scraper like you’d use with hair removal cream. Run it over your problem pores, pressing down lightly so it squeezes out any blackheads or clogging. Use a splash of cold water to seal the pores again. Just be sure to do this before bed, as the skin will be red for a few hours after scraping and using makeup can clog your pores again.

5: Moisturize.

Whether you use a damp, warm towel, essential oils, a store bought face cream or a yoghurt and honey mix, make sure to moisturize, especially if the weather is warm, your skin is very oily or dry or if you use a lot of makeup on a regular basis.

6: Disinfect.

If you see redness, scratches, spots, blackheads or swelling anywhere on your skin and it’s definitely a skin surface issue, use a little tea tree oil. It’s a natural disinfectant and could help prevent further damage and encourage your skin to heal normally.

7: Steam bath.

If you have oily skin or pores that clog often, use a steam bath a couple of times a week to clear your pores. The warm steam will open your pores and the heat will encourage you to sweat, which may help force out many of the oils that collect in your sweat ducts and glands, giving your drier, softer skin for the following days.

8: Go lactose-free.

In many people acne is a symptom of lactose intolerance. If your heritage is anything but pure Hungarian or Scandinavian, chances are you are at least a little bit lactose intolerant. Try cutting out dairy from cream to skimmed milk. Butter is still OK as the lactose in it is negligible. After a couple of weeks you may notice your acne is reduced or entirely gone.

9: Pat dry.

With very oily and sweaty skin, sometimes we make the problem worse by poking or prodding too much and using too many products. Keep some facial blotters with you wherever you go and if you feel your face getting prickly, oily or sweaty, just lightly blot your face and neck. This will absorb excess oils without irritating the pores. Never use one blotter twice, especially if your skin is very oily, as you could be adding oils back to your skin after you’re done.

10: Beta carotene.

More urgent for people of Caucasian heritage than any other, but still useful to most people unless your skin is 100% Sub-Saharan Black. Beta carotene is the pigment in carrots, sweet potatoes and oranges that makes many foods orange or red or pink. Your body absorbs it and it lightly colours your skin, filling in the melanin gaps with a golden or orangey colour. This pigmentation gives lighter skinned people a healthy glow and can help prevent sunburn during brief periods of exposure.

11: Cool off.

Some of the biggest problems with skin care happen when our pores are wide open. Regularly washing our faces in very cold water can help keep your pores closed. Fanning and sitting in a breezy area is good too. Keeping cool will help keep your pores closed.

12: Sunblock.

Sun damage on any skin tone is terrible. You have dryness, wrinkled patches and swelling. Even if your skin is dark and won’t show redness, it will show the swelling, wrinkles and peeling. Be sure to use sunblock if you’re out for over half an hour and enjoy the sun without burning.

13: Dry shave.

If you shave your legs and/or arms, consider doing a dry shave once in a while. After a shower, pat yourself mostly dry, take a fresh razor and carefully shave without using water or soap. If the drag hurts don’t do it, but if it doesn’t bother you, you’ll be amazed at how smooth the skin is and how few ingrown hairs you get!

14: Cut back sugars.

Many people get very bad skin from eating fast release sugar. If you find your skin is puffy, oily, aging quickly or covered in acne, but lactose wasn’t causing it, it could be sugars. Try cutting out all foods with simple sugar and having only one or two pieces of fruit a day over a week. You may find your skin looks much better.

15: Oil cleansing.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but actually all soaps are made of oils and for most of our history we made use of oils for washing. The fact of the matter is that oils bind with oils, so if you have oily skin, eczema or generally sensitive skin, oils can bind with your natural skin oils and the irritants that are in them. Your skin could be far healthier if you use oil cleansing. Try using olive oil, coconut oil or walnut oil for the best results.

And that is what I have learned about how to care for your skin!

How do you keep your skin clear, healthy and happy? Have you tried any of the above advice? Share your experience in the comments. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!