Exfoliation Is My Prozac/Cymbalta/Wellbutrin Or Whatever Antidepressant It Is That You Take

I feel like bad days leave a perceptible layer of grime on my skin, so I scrub it off like Joan Crawford is yelling at me.
Publish date:
March 8, 2013
exfoliation, body scrubs, jergens, body brush

I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’d be forced to choose between a great breakfast sandwich and an exfoliating glove, but I’d be seriously torn. I love breakfast soooo much, but exfoliating brings me great joy, not only in a my-skin-feels-baby-soft way, but in an I’m-washing-everything-bad-about-my-life-down-the-drain kind of way, too.

I remember coming home from a particularly long day at work and equally grueling trek home on public transit to a letter from my landlord threatening eviction over my tardy rent as well as my dog’s poop on my floor and bed (her well-established penalty for staying away from home too long). It felt like crap was coming at me from all angles (somewhat literally, thanks to my dog). What is my life? Where is it going? How did I get here?

I stripped naked, got in the shower and exfoliated.

With the warm water flowing over me, I felt a little of the day wash away. It wasn’t enough. I lathered up the glove and start to scrub in my usual order, head to toe. I start to feel lighter, but as I reach my ankles, remnants of the day start to creep in.

I lathered up again in the reverse direction, paying attention to the especially rough areas (of my skin and life). By the time I reached my neck, I felt ready to face the world again, with or without my clothes. I rinsed off the soap and watched the brownish-gray grit of dead skin cells go down the drain.

I ran my finger over my forearm to perform the squeak test, a symbol of my completed ritual, and turned off the water, relieved.

On the edge of the bathtub, I surveyed my new skin, a new self even. I put on olive oil, and as I reached my feet and felt the rough skin on my heels, I decided in favor of an impromptu pedicure. More scrubbing! Yay!

As I finish my foot scrub, my dog started to sniff at the door and I realized I can’t stay in here forever. I welcomed her in and got to work scrubbing her, my bed, my floor and my life.

Exfoliation probably won’t change the world, the physical benefits of scrubbing are incredible: smoother skin, an even tone, increased circulation, etc. Though the research into the psychological benefits of exfoliation is limited to its use alongside Wilhelm Reich’s orgone energy accumulator (1930s science, you guys!), I can tell you that I always feel better and have a clearer focus after instituting my own “exfoliation therapy.”


1. Scented bubbly soaps, fancy body washes and harsh sugar scrubs need not apply. My skin is sensitive to dyes and fragrances, so less is more. I love Jergen’s Mild Soap Bars. It provides the optimum amount of lather and moisturizes my skin, even after a head-to-toe, toe-to-head double scrub.

2. The tools are the most important part. My exfoliating glove wins at life, even as an inanimate object. It gets into everything (the nooks of the armpits, between the toes, in the bum crack, etc.). Since it’s an extension of your hand, it’s easier to adjust the pressure you use to scrub. For my back, I use a long-armed brush to get the job done.

3. Even more important than how you scrub is what you follow up the scrub with. My excessive emotional scrubbing can leave my skin pretty dry, so I use oils to seal in moisture right after my bath.

If you can follow up your therapy session with a breakfast sandwich (even if it’s not morning), even better.