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how to exfoliate legs: beginner's guide to exfoliating your legs

let’s state the obvious: when it comes to skincare (and shaving care), everybody knows they need to clean their skin. to prevent buildup, banish imperfections, and simply feel fresh, washing our bodies is essential. but did you know that just using a body wash isn’t always enough?

though a cleanser suited for your skin type is a powerful tool, even the best body washes have their limits. when it comes to cleaning your skin, especially before shaving your legs, body wash can’t do it alone. to achieve cleaner skin and a closer shave, you’ve gotta add exfoliation to your skincare routine. 

why should you exfoliate your legs? 

people who exfoliate their legs are generally looking to accomplish two key goals: clean skin and smooth legs. 

chemical exfoliants contain active ingredients like glycolic acid, making them stronger than your regular cleansers. powered by powerful ingredients and soothing essential oils, exfoliants deliver a deeper clean than a drugstore bottle of body wash ever could. (and physical exfoliants like scrubs can offer those same squeaky clean results.)

and with cleaner skin comes smoother legs. 

without all that dirt, grime, and buildup lingering on your legs, your skin is free to glow. when your skin is clogged and covered by impurities, less light can reach the surface, causing your skin to look dull. exfoliants remove these impurities, uncovering your skin and allowing it to shine. 

what is exfoliation?

after all this talk about the benefits of exfoliating your legs, you might find yourself wondering, “well, what exactly is it?” don’t worry — though exfoliating is an important step in your skincare and shaving routines, it is an easy one. 

exfoliating is the process of removing impurities (aka, dead skin cells) from the skin’s surface. that’s a pretty loose definition, right? there is a countless amount of exfoliation methods designed to suit every skin type, so rest assured knowing your skin is in safe hands. 

as long as your exfoliation routine removes those dead skin cells, how you choose to brighten and smooth your skin is entirely up to you. 

types of exfoliation

to find the best leg exfoliate routine for you, you should first consider all your options. there are several different types of exfoliation methods that use different products and tools to exfoliate your legs. each comes with its own set of benefits, too.

whether you have oily or dry skin, you can cater your routine to your specific skin type. 

physical exfoliation

when you think about exfoliating your legs, you’re probably thinking about physical exfoliation methods. the most common type among teens and adults, physical exfoliation relies on specialty skincare products to remove dead skin cells clinging to the skin. 

perhaps the most flexible method, there are a million different exfoliating scrubs out there for all skin types. some products are rougher, allowing for a deeper clean to target patches of flaky skin, while others are made to be more gentle on sensitive skin types. 

no matter what your skin needs, starting your exfoliation routine is as easy as choosing between a delicious brown sugar scrub or a fresh sea salt scrub (or something else entirely, like hanni’s best-selling shower scarf). 

chemical exfoliation

people often perceive “chemical” to mean “bad,” but that’s not the case! though the best ingredients come from nature, people too easily forget that those ingredients are made of chemical elements. and if chemicals are good enough for coconut oil and olive oil, they’re good enough for us. 

while some chemical exfoliants must be administered by dermatologists, there are many you can use yourself. available as topical body lotions and high-end peeling serums, chemical exfoliants depend on two main classes of hydroxy acids to rid your skin of dead skin cells. 

alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHAs are water-soluble acids, so they are able the seep into your skin and work beneath the skin’s surface. responsible for improving skin texture, they are best for balancing skin tone and banishing dark spots.

    beta hydroxy acids (BHAs): salicylic acid. BHAs, different from their alphas, are oil-soluble, giving them an entirely different purpose in chemical exfoliants. designed to break down excess oils in your skin, these acids target and unclog pores, making them ideal for acne-prone oily skin.

      when should you exfoliate? 

      how often you exfoliate depends on your specific skin needs. skin that is naturally more oily will produce buildup faster and therefore need a deeper clean on an exfoliant more often than naturally dry skin. however, if you find your dry skin quickly becomes flaking, increasing the frequency of your exfoliation routine can help brush away those dead skin cells. 

      the general rule is to listen to your skin. that said, there are certain cases where you can predict what your skin is going to say. 

      unless your skin is particularly irritated, you should always exfoliate before you shave. when you don’t, you force your razor blade to cut through buildup as well as hair, which dramatically increases your likelihood of developing razor burn or ingrown hairs on your legs. but exfoliation purges your skin of impurities, reducing your skin down to its freshest, most unhindered layer. 

      without any buildup blocking your razor, you will get a much closer shave that is safer for your skin. 

      how to exfoliate your legs 

      the time has finally come. you’re ready to exfoliate your legs. we feel like your proud big sister! and like your big sister, we’re not going to leave you to the razor wolves. 

      here are some of the most important tips and tricks to keep in mind as you exfoliate your legs. 

      preparation is key

      you would never go into a test without studying, so don’t exfoliate your legs without researching! to find the best products and tools for you, it’s important to know the needs of your skin and find the best exfoliation method to use. 

      but the preparation doesn’t stop there. in addition to preparing your mind and your setup, you need to prepare your skin! 

      before exfoliating, gently wash your skin with warm water. this will remove any surface-level grime that might distract from the deeper purpose of your exfoliant. the warm water also works to relax and open your pores, which promotes an even deeper clean. 

      while you exfoliate, go slow

      exfoliation isn’t a race. you don’t get a prize for finishing early. take your time exfoliating your legs, working in small sections to ensure an even clean across your skin’s surface. 

      using your favorite body scrub, use a our awesome shower scarf, loofah, or exfoliating glove to scoop up some of that sugar and spread it across your skin. as you go, apply the scrub in small circular motions to work the skin and optimize your exfoliation. 

      keep in mind that exfoliating scrubs are textured, so they will feel rough as they move against your skin — but they shouldn’t hurt at all. if your body scrub irritates your skin (itching, burning, bleeding), stop using it immediately. 

      to use our shower scarf for your smoothest legs yet, just saturate it with warm water, lather up your body wash, and scrub your skin with whatever amount of pressure floats your boat. start gently … but know that the more pressure you apply, the deeper the exfoliation. 

      after you exfoliate, it’s time to glow

      woohoo! you’ve just finished exfoliating! but before you start hanging streamers, there are a few more steps to wrap up the process. 

      if you plan to shave, it’s time to grab the razor. working in small sections, apply your favorite cream, gel, or balm and glide your razor across your legs. remember to take care during hair removal: like exfoliating, you need to be gentle with your skin. 

      if you don’t plan to shave, or you have already completed that step, it’s time to moisturize. like you hydrate your face after you cleanse it, you must hydrate your legs. cleansers tend to strip your skin of its natural moisture, so lotions and balms work to give that hydration back. packed with powerful nutrients, applying lotion is the final step when exfoliating. 

      how you exfoliate your legs is up to you 

      here at hanni, we believe in going against the grain. how you shave (or don’t shave) is a personal decision. no matter what your mom, best friend, or anybody else tells you, we believe that YOU are the only one capable of making the best decisions for your skin, so we want to leave them up to you. but, like your favorite older sister, we’re still here to give you some advice. 

      if you want smooth legs, exfoliation should be your go-to girl. the right exfoliation method will polish and prime your skin for wherever the day takes you – even if it’s to the bathroom to shave your legs. 

      Sources: 

      Exfoliative Skin-Peeling, Benefits from This Procedure and Our Experience | PMC

      Applications of Hydroxy Acids: Classification, Mechanisms, and Photoactivity | PMC

      Ingrown Hair on Legs: Removal and Prevention | Medical News Today

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