Banish Winter Skin in 2 hours + Basil Parm Polenta

If you have:

  • Dry, cracked cuticles
  • Ashy elbows and knees
  • Skin that feels rough, lacks luster, softness, and touchability

Then this one’s for you :)

You CAN have soft, silky skin in the middle of winter – if you have 2 hours and a few inexpensive tools, and follow these steps.

And, since some of the ingredients in my all-natural moisturizing exfoliant are the same as polenta, you can also have a delicious meal to eat at the end :)

What you’ll need:

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  1. Light weights or a resistance band and a Pinterest workout or two
  2. A 16-oz glass of water
  3. A box of baking soda
  4. A clean washcloth
  5. A scrubby viscose mitt (details in Step 4, below!)
  6. A nail clipper or cuticle trimmer
  7. The below recipe (containing cornmeal, olive or canola oil, and dry basil)

Do ahead: make the basil cornmeal body scrub (a version of the vanilla scrub I did previously).  In a mixing bowl, blend 1c cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp dried basil.  Add 1/4 c oil, and mix until coated – there should be loose clumps.  Remove 1/3 c of the mixture; place in a separate bowl.  Add another 1/4c of oil to what you just put in the bowl, and stir with a fork.  It will be grainy but fluid (see bowl on the right, below).
IMAG1660Bring that bowl along to the tub, and follow the below!

Let’s get started.

Step 1 (15 minutes): Warming your body from the inside out.
Working up a sweat opens pores and heats up your body, making exfoliation easier, and we’re not going to mess around with just shower steam – for this, you gotta MOVE!  I used these two exercise boards from Pinterest and the “Workout” playlist on Pandora to crank some tunes.  My room is 11×11 – no excuses of space or equipment (I jumped rope with an invisible cord) here!

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Step 2 (5 minutes): Pound a glass of water
You just got a little sweaty, and you’re about to sweat more – hydration is key for healthy skin!  Drink up.

Step 3 (30 minutes): A warm bath
Time to soften up your skin.  Draw a nice warm bath, and dump in the box of baking soda – it’ll help the softening process and loosen the dead layer on top.  Bring a book.  Light a candle.  Play some music and relax, being sure to submerge as much of yourself as possible.

Step 4 (30 minutes): A cleansing shower
After you drain the tub, just shower normally – face, soap, shampoo…I won’t boss you around at this point, you’ve been doing this for years – and then it’s time to let that sweat and baking soda show you what it did.  I want to tell you about a handy little tool I discovered at a Korean day spa: the exfoliating mitt.

THESE ARE AMAZING.

And cheap. Try the Amazon version - 8 pcs Asian Exfoliating Bath Washcloth – Red & Green - for around $2.50 a pop.  (They’re washable and reusable, you may never need to buy them again!  The packaging is all in Korean, so all I can tell you for sure is that they are 100% viscose, and are DELUXE, the only parts clearly stated in English.)

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Start using in small circular motions around your wrist and then moving up.  This is the part where it gets a little gross, but is totally compelling. You will be simultaneously appalled that you had so much dead skin, and fascinated…that you have so much dead skin.

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See those white flecks?  Isn’t it kind of disgusting?  Sorry if you’re grossed out.  But trust me, this process is amazing.  It should take you 10-15 minutes to be thorough on your whole body – ankles, feet, between your fingers, arms, legs, butt – do it ALL!  At the end, you will feel squeaky,silky clean.  Turn off the shower and towel off, but stay in the tub!

Step 5 (10 minutes): The moisturizing cornmeal scrub
Now you’ve succeeded in exfoliating, but your newly refreshed skin is delicate and at risk of losing moisture, so you want to lock in the steam from the shower before you dry out.  Grab your bowl of basil cornmeal scrub, and start rubbing!  The cornmeal will ensure that the oil is massaged into the small nooks and crannies of your skin and take care of any spots you missed exfoliating.  The basil will make you smell herby and lovely.  Again, be thorough here, especially around your feet and hands and parts that bend.

Step 6 (10 minutes): Rinse off
Well, you’re covered in bits of basil, pepper, and cornmeal, so it’s time to rinse off*.  Turn the shower back on (not too hot, as this can dry skin out) and rinse off – you’ll need a washcloth, but don’t use soap!  The basil also makes it easy to tell when you’ve gotten all your parts rinsed.

Step 7 (15 minutes): Dry off and trim
Dry yourself off thoroughly now, and chuck the towel in the hamper as you’ll probably get off some extra oil here too.  Your skin should feel moist, but not slick. Use a nail clipper or a cuticle trimmer to gently remove dead skin on your fingers and toes.

Step 8 (15 minutes): Paint nails (optional, but let’s face it, also kind of necessary at this point)
The two tricks to a salon-style paint job are:

  1. Never go all the way down to the cuticle and 
  2. Always use at least 2 coats of color and ALWAYS a top coat of clear polish to reflect the light better.

Pinterest tip that really works: spray your fingers and toes with PAM or sprayable olive oil to prevent dings!

My camera doesn’t take high enough resolution pictures to show the (huge) difference in my skin texture, but you can tell on the nails!  (Before, during and after pics below.)

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Now that you’re dry and luscious, time for a small healthy meal – remember the rest of that cornmeal, the part you didn’t add extra oil too?  Well…toast it for a few minutes on high heat in a medium pan on the stove, then add 3c of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, stirring regularly until it’s about the consistency of hummus.  You’ve just made polenta!  Fold in 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese, and serve with some broiled fish and spinach!

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*Some notes and warnings:

  1. Be careful when rinsing the scrub in the shower – oil and water don’t mix, which means the tub might be slippery!  After you get out, use the washcloth and some soap to make sure it all goes down the drain.
  2. This is not for your face.  Stick to the neck down.
  3. Warning: your skin will FEEL AWESOME.  Try to refrain from inviting too many people to touch you.

Have a relaxing and wonderful #SkinEditionSunday!  Stay classy, healthy, and happy (and if you try this, let me know how it goes!)

2 thoughts on “Banish Winter Skin in 2 hours + Basil Parm Polenta

  1. This scrub was awesome – my skin came back from the land of the crypt! I used the vanilla version and really enjoyed having a relaxing weekend afternoon. I was wondering if the scrub would clog the shower drain but it was just fine.

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