While you know you need to exfoliate, here are the more surprising skin care steps you can take to perfect your complexion starting right now:
1. Clean up your diet. This is the most important—and most overlooked—step you can take to get gorgeous, glowing skin, says Laurie Neronha, a master esthetician and certified acne specialist in Providence, Rhode Island. Neronha's favorite veggies for skin care are dark leafy greens, such as spinach, dandelion greens, and nettles. "They contain antioxidants and bitter compounds that support detoxification," she says. "The skin is an important organ of elimination, and when toxins build up, the liver becomes 'stressed.' This stress commonly shows on the skin as rashy, itchy, pimply spots." Add vegetables and push processed, packaged foods out of your diet, and you'll watch your complexion instantly improve, says Neronha.
2. Start dry brushing. With a natural, boar-bristle body brush, literally "brush" your body like you would your hair, starting at your feet and gently brushing up your legs, belly and arms (always brush upwards toward your heart). "This does way more than exfoliate your body; it actually stimulates lymph, otherwise known as your body's garbage removal system," says Neronha. Stimulating lymph flow can help reduce dark under-eye circles, acne and even sinus congestion and swelling. Dry brushing also boosts circulation all over, giving your skin a healthy-looking glow.
3. Stop spraying perfume on your neck. Yes, it's a point you've been told to spritz because of the number of veins and arteries beneath the skin there. (Spraying perfume on areas of the body that generate a lot of warmth helps project the fragrance.) However, the alcohol and fragrance components of your perfume actually react with sunlight, causing irritation and damage to collagen fibers, says Neronha. "I hate to break this to you, but spraying perfume on sun-exposed skin will cause rashes and breakouts in the short term and age spots in the long term," she says. "Take a look at an older person's neck and see if you notice the tell-tale pigment spots down either side. I see it all the time!" Instead, spritz your favorite fragrance on your wrists, belly button, and behind your knees.
4. Schedule a facial. Sure, a professional treatment might not be in your budget, but if you're going to splurge, now's the time to do it. Neronha recommends a hydrating facial and if you can afford it, a series of light, progressive peels. "Nothing works faster to reveal a fresher-looking complexion than seeing a professional and getting personalized guidance on the best course of action for your skin," she says.