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Skin

Mitt, loofah, puff, flannel or bare hands – how do you wash your body?

November 19th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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We all have a favourite method, but some are better for your skin than others, according to one dermatologist

A quick glance at the day’s headlines reveals we aren’t short on topics to have a healthy debate about. So when an animated discussion about how we showered ensued at GTG HQ, it was surprising, to say the least.

What became quickly apparent is that we all have a slightly different take on it. Some of us use flannels, some use mitts or shower puffs and others prefer a more hands-on approach. Even Nigella Lawson was in the news recently after revealing that she exfoliates with washing up gloves with silicone bits on the palms. Her recipes for chocolate Guinness cake and passion fruit pavlova haven’t let me down yet, so I’m seriously considering giving them a try.

Turns out, most modes have a place. “As with most skincare practices, I think it always depends on your skin type,” says dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth, so applying the same approach for the neck up to the neck down could be the way to go.

If you have oily skin for example, Dr Wedgeworth recommends using a cleansing brush three times a week or on alternate days. “When used correctly, it can act almost like a physical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and excess oil.” Start with light strokes and use in circular motions with your favourite shower gel to prevent skin from feeling raw. It’s also best to only use it on spot-prone places (avoiding active breakouts) such as the chest and back. Try The Body Shop’s Cactus Long Handle Brush, £10, which is perfect for reaching those pesky hard to reach areas.

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If brushes are a little too hard for your liking but you’d prefer something deeper cleaning than your hands, a flannel acts as a great in-between daily option for normal to oily skin types. For bumpy or rough skin though, such as the backs of the arms, Dr Wedgeworth recommends upgrading to an exfoliating mitt or loofah. Avoid rubbing your skin excessively though, as it can cause irritation. A product that we’re getting good results from is Foamie’s Aloe Spa Shower Sponge, £6.39. Containing an in-built cream cleanser that you just squeeze to activate, it’s a great all-in-one. Plus, it’s recyclable and also vegan too (if that’s what you’re looking for).

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You might also love Liz Earle’s new Cleanse and Polish Body, £19, if you were a fan of the cult cleanser, a more far-reaching variation that comes with a handy shower mitt too.

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All this talk of tools though begs the question of whether just using our hands is enough. Yes it is, says Dr Wedgeworth, but it’s just that if you’re looking to treat a particular condition such as keratosis pilaris, (i.e. red, rough bumps commonly found on the arms, thighs and buttocks) you might benefit from using a more vigorous washing method. “A mitt or loofah may well be helpful to remove the accumulation of keratin, which results in bumpiness of the skin.”

Surprisingly, if you have dry, scaly and flaky skin, you’re likely to benefit most from going mitt and loofah-free. “Although this may help in the short-term, getting to the root cause of the problem and addressing the dryness with moisturisers and non-foaming washes is often far more effective,” says Dr Wedgeworth.

The same approach applies to for those with sensitive or reactive skin too - gentle washing with tepid water is Dr Wedgeworth’s preferred method for these skin types. However, she notes that what works best differs from person to person, depending on your own tolerance level and what you’re teaming your tool with. For instance, if you use a fragrance-free and SLS-free shower gel that doesn’t foam easily like our Sense & Sensitivity columnist Judy Johnson, you could find that using a puff will help you achieve a creamier lather.

Whatever your tool of choice though, there’s one rule that applies across the board - keep it clean. “If you want to use a flannel or muslin cloth to cleanse, you need to change it daily. Loofahs, every few weeks,” says Dr Wedgeworth. “Damp cloths, shower puffs and loofahs are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria.”

Read more: Why you may be applying your skincare products all wrong.

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