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The previous post in this series was dedicated to basic face care, today, we’re going to focus on the bigger picture, the overall body. Bodily care standards vary by person to person; some people like to just get the bare minimum of clean, if even that (My sister for instance, who is my absolute opposite in nearly every way, used to “get clean” by washing her knees and face and then getting the towel wet, to fool our mother about having taken a bath) others, like me, can turn bathing/showering into a daily ritual of pleasure and relaxation which constitutes a big part of maintaining their mental balance. The latter will be what we devote ourselves to here, because this is my blog, and I can’t really share anyone else’s experience but my own.

My body beauty routine has three prime directives: To make me clean, to make me smell good, and to make me look good. The first one, I hope, is something which all adults have mastered, the second is not necessary, especially for those who may have sensory avoidance/overload issues with smell. With that in mind, let’s focus on that third one, eh? In my case, as a tall, voluptuous woman, my primary beauty focuses with my body are keeping my skin smooth and even, keeping my legs, arms, and armpits hair-free, and having a certain soft, caress-worthy feeling to my skin. This is achieved through the magic of exfoliation followed by moisturising, and I’ve even discovered formulae which have helped me lessen the appearance of stretch marks and the dimpled, wrinkly devil that’s better known as cellulite. More on that later. After the face, the most important parts of my body for beauty maintenance are my hands and my legs.

Another bit of sage advice on beauty from my mother was that your hands, face, and décolletage area were the three places which “gave away” your real age, so it was best to pay extra care and loving attention to them during your beauty routine. I’m a writer, a student, and an office worker, I assure you that my hands don’t undergo any really difficult work requiring TLC, unless it’s finals week or I have a great idea. I have very weak, brittle nails which break easily, and clicking on the keyboard can wear them down very rapidly. I’ve gone through a lot of brands of nail strengthener, and only one of them has achieved any results for me, and that’s Butter London’s Horse Power Nail Fertilizer. It’s a steep price at $24 per bottle, but I willingly fork it over for phenomenal results. It not only strengthens my nails, it also keeps them from looking weak, scraggly, or discoloured. I still keep my nails relatively short, but they look stronger, cleaner, and much more lovely with Butter London’s help.

For a small daily hand treatment, after I’ve showered/bathed, I put a dab of Charity Pot on my hands, and rub it in along my arms and hands. Mini maintenance is my friend. For a full hand treatment, which I perform about once every other week, all you need is an exfoliant (I use Sugar Scrub) a pair of nail clippers/scissors, Charity Pot (or the lotion of your choice) a cuticle softener and cuticle oil (Again, Butter London is the best I’ve tried) and the nail fertilizer. A bowl of hot water or your sink plugged up will serve you well for this, and having dry, warm towels on standby comes in handy.

First, I dip my hands in the water, break off a chunk of the sugar scrub, then rub it all along my hands. If you’re inclined towards dramatic flairs, try imagining yourself as Lady Macbeth during this part. I dip again to wash off the scrub, then reach for the cuticle softener, and leave it on my hands for two minutes. I brush it off gently, and then dip again in the water to wash the entire thing off. The cuticle oil comes next, which needs a bit more time to sink in, so I let it dry after applying two coats. When that’s dry, the nail fertilizer is ready to go on, I paint it on in three coats, so it can double as a nail polish. More waiting games are played while the fertilizer dries, and after it’s done, a dab of Charity Pot keeps things soft and smelling good.

For special occasions, like my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Jaime and I’s anniversary, or when I’m going to a formal event like a wedding, I let a professional handle my nails, and take a trip to the manicurist to either get French tips, or to indulge in more fun colours. If you take good care of your hands and your nails, the results are beautiful, but also provide an opportunity to have fun with nail polish; you can get away with a lot more fun, cool colours, I find, if your nails look nice.

Taking care of the rest of your body is similar to taking care of your hands; it requires regular exfoliation, attention to texture, and some time out of your daily schedule. I focus the most on my legs, because they’re the part of my appearance I’m most proud of, but this treatment applies all across the body. It starts in the shower with a cube of Sandstone Soap, which I scrub all over, with a special focus on my bum and the back of my thighs.* After the scrub, I take a helping of Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner and spread it all over my skin and let it sit for about five minutes before washing off.

I also take the time with the Ro’s Argan to shave with it on, it makes an excellent substitute for shaving cream. The best thing to use after Ro’s Argan is an actual hair conditioner, but you have to rinse frequently, otherwise it gets clogged quickly. Jaime and I both use “men’s” razors, because for some reason, they’re sturdier and better at giving a smooth shave than any “women’s” razors. We use Gillette Fusion razors, which are expensive, but we don’t need to change the blade that often, it lasts forever, we only really change the blades if we get nicked or if we drop the razor and visibly mar the blade.

Out of the tub and towelled off, I take a massage bar** (I prefer Therapy or Each Peach, but whatever you prefer works) and rub it all along my legs, tummy, and bum in upwards strokes, covering as much skin as possible. Therapy is responsible for the eventual fading of my stretch marks and cellulite, which I’m eternally grateful for. The mini massage also makes my skin glow and keeps it firm and smooth. Before, I had problems with my skin looking ruddy, splotchy and patched during the winter months due to my skin flaking and slow circulation, but Therapy fixed that, and now I have legs which have drawn comparisons to Zoe SaldanaKaren Gillan and Cyd Charisse. I cannot complain.

For deodorant, I use Dr. Hauschka’s deodorant, which is very expensive, but is long-lasting in terms of both use and effectiveness throughout the day, doesn’t irritate me, and is antiperspirant-free. All deodorants have a long shelf life and usage period, but Dr. Hauschka won me over because it’s the most gentle of them all, has a non-invasive and non-irritating scent, and doesn’t leave marks or streaks on my clothes or cause itchy bumps. It is the best natural deodorant I’ve found in terms of quality, scent, and long-lasting effect, but Miessence, which is cheaper ($9.60 American) also works, even in hot environments like Hawaii.

This concludes part two of a series of Leah’s ramblings about one of her special interests. Next time, we are going to be covering hair care, shampoo, conditioner, brushes, combs, and what to look for in a hairdresser.

* I managed to get rid of most of my cellulite by following this routine, cutting back on salt and refined sugar, drinking more tea, and getting into yoga, dance, and tango classes. It may not work for everyone, but it helped me quite a bit.

** Money saving tip: You can spend at LUSH without breaking the bank by investing in a massage bar. They are not only good for this, but they can also be a good substitute for lotion, an excellent tool for foot and hand rubs, and a great stress reliever by running along your back, shoulders, and neck. You can’t lose by getting a massage bar.