Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

Skirt season is here, but before you don a flouncy floral number or a sequined pleated skirt, you’ve got some work to do. While spring offers a transitional period to segue into summer’s bathing suits, it’s still a shocking display of skin following six months of black pants and blazers. A scrub is in order to reveal soft, smooth skin whether you’re strolling the cobblestone streets of the West Village or attending a wedding in the Central Park.

Although the cosmetic industry may be saturated with products, we spent a long time choosing between an endless array of sugar and salt scrubs, but we have real variety now. Technology and research has enabled an array of textures and smells, from fruit extracts to traditional salt grains. Surprisingly, each of the products detailed below has a distinct scent and sensation, assuring us there’s a product for everyone out there.

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Bliss’s Sweet Orange and Spearmint Scrub is the traditional variety sugar scrub. Coarse sugar grains exfoliate skin while orange nourishes skin and spearmint soothes senses. Packaged in Bliss’ usual cheerful colors, the 12 ounce jar is a perfect size.

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A little less sophisticated, but just as effective is the Marshy Mint’s Marshmallow Mint Sugar Scrub. This will have you reminiscing back to the days of elementary school, and peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches. The sweet smell is a bit overwhelming, but once you begin using the product, the mint neutralizes it. The grains are rough enough to leave skin smooth, but gentle enough to allow daily use. The bonus feature: if you have a young daughter, offering this product or its companion body lotion might make bath time easier.

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Essencia’s Rosemary Mint Body Polish is the exact opposite of Marshy Mint. The grain is comprised of sea salt and crushed apricot seeds, and feels like wet sand. Jojoba and sweet almond oils serve as the moisturizing agent, while rosemary and peppermint yields a fresh, green smell. The combination of a light oil aftermath, a mild peppermint smell and a course scent make this ideal for rough patches like elbows, heels and even around the triceps, where rashes are common.

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Nyakio, the L.A.-based company that produced a wildly successful coffee scrub last year, recently introduced their newest product, the Grape, Eucalyptus and Sugar Body Scrub. If this massive container were any bigger it wouldn’t fit on the shower ledge, but it’s the contents that matter. Eucalyptus dominates the smell of this thick, slimy solution that feels like wet seaweed, but the gel-like substance washes clean easily. This is a great option for combination skin because grape seed and vitamins A and E moisturize, but the natural oils don’t leave a residue or sheen.

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Tahitian Noni’s Moea Sugar Scrub has a similar consistency, but it rivals the ordinary scrubs. This product has been in my shower for about two months and everyone who has visited me, from my 70-year-old uncle to my 20-something girlfriends, has raved about it. The first ingredient is cane sugar, followed by a variety of natural oils. The sweet but subtle scent contains vanilla and faint fruit undertones, but the consistency is what wins praise. Because they use mashed sugar cane instead of sugar crystals, the result is a smooth, nonabrasive polish that congeals well with the six oils, which include kukui, macadamia and coconut seed.

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If all this sugary-sweet, happy joy spring stuff is too much for you, The Thymes Smoothing Foot Scrub may be a happy medium. Crushed walnut shells and pumice mix with sunflower seed oil, vitamin E and glycerin to create a moisturizing scrub that’s closer to a body lotion than a oil sugar scrub. Although it’s designed to smooth rough heels and calluses, it’s gentle enough to use anywhere. Or, if you can’t handle another primping step, Thymes makes an exfoliating soap bar that lathers as well as a foaming body wash and exfoliates with Jojoba beads.

For a modern scrub with the latest must-have ingredients, like bamboo, try the Body Scrub from the new skin care line, Malin & Geotz. This lathering scrub is not meant for daily use; the no-frills bottle features their signature apothecary-style design that resembles Dr. Bronner’s natural line.

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But what if you’re afraid to scrub? Afraid the particles will leave your skin red, and the moisturizing agents will cause breakouts. Embarrassed to admit it’s not your partner that has the problem with – gasp – back acne. Eco Spa’s Red Clay Body Scrub is an exfoliating scrub with a clay base. Any skin care addict knows that as far as masks go, clay and mud are the best at drawing out impurities and dirt, thereby preventing future breakouts. Think of the Terra scrub as a mask and body scrub in one, that don’t require a drying period.

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With an array of scrubs available, at the click of your mouse, it’s the decision that’s the hard part. But we often forget to care for the one part of our body people see and touch the most – our hands. Unexpectedly I received The Thymes Deep Cleansing Hand Scrub from their Gardener collection. Although the walnut shell granules seem abrasive at first touch, the solution works into a mild lather. The mixture of chamomile, comfrey, arnica flower extract, and yarrow extract produce a refreshing scent, and the scrub leaves hands utterly smooth and soft.

Hopefully, spring skirts will lure summer flings and someone to touch your carefully cleansed body. Until that time, prepare for the weddings and brunches that await you with some at home spa treatments – at the very least the refreshing scents will awaken you and the results will satisfy your cravings for instant gratification.

Bliss Sweet Orange and Spearmint Scrub, 12 oz $36, Sephora, Bloomingdales, Macys, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Marshy Mint Sugar Scrub 10 oz $22, www.jmkbodycreations.com

Essencia Rosemary Mint Body Polish 5.6 oz., $16 or 11.5 oz $28, www.essenciaonline.com

Nyakio Grape, Eucalyptus & Sugar Body Scrub, 18 oz $47, www.mybeautifulplace.com

Moea Sugar Scrub, 4 oz $33, www.tahitiannoni.com

The Thymes Smoothing Foot Scrub, 8.3 oz, $18, Exfoliating Bar Soap 7 oz $12, Garderner Deep Cleansing Hand Scrub, 4 oz $18, www.thymes.com

Malin & Goetz Body Scrub, 8 oz, $30, Sephora

Eco Spa TERRA Red Clay Scrub 22.9 oz. glass jar $24, www.fruits-passion.com

Originally published May 2005
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