A Top Dermatologist Weighs In on How to Properly Exfoliate Your Legs

Updated 02/17/17

If you don’t have plans to wear a skirt anytime soon, you’re likely neglecting a very important skincare step, exfoliation. While often overlooked, exfoliating has the ability to completely transform your legs. To learn how to exfoliate our legs properly, we reached out to dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, for a few of her tips as well as a few of her favorite product recommendations for silky, smooth skin.

If you want gorgeous looking gams, it’s important that you regularly exfoliate them, as Engelman says proper exfoliation is “a great way to boost circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite in the legs by removing dead, flaky skin cells resting on the surface of the skin.” While Engelman encourages proper practice, she warns of “over-exfoliation,” which happens when skin is “less hydrated.” So, dry skin gals, if you plan to exfoliate, remember to also hydrate! To learn how to properly exfoliate your legs for smoother, more radiant skin, keep reading for Engelman’s favorite products and tips.

1. Dry Brush

Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Body Brush
Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Body Brush $32
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The first step of the exfoliation process is dry brushing, which Engelman says is beneficial “it increases circulation, which helps with cellulite, aids in lymphatics drainage, and exfoliates the skin.” To properly brush your body, Engelman recommends applying “gentle pressure [while] brushing upward toward the heart.” For more detailed instructions on how to dry brush, check out our comprehensive guide to dry brushing.

2. Polish

First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish With Active Charcoal
First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish With Active Charcoal $28
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Follow up your dry-brushing routine with a multitasking body polish that works to cleanse, exfoliate, and smooth flaky and or bumpy skin. Engelman recommends this clay-based paste formulated with active charcoal, as it turns into a gentle foaming scrub that both detoxifies the restores the skin. While this is a great treatment for all skin types, it works especially well for those with keratosis pilaris, as, “the gentle treatment buffs away dry skin and dramatically refines skin texture,” Engelman says.

3. Apply Oil

Bio Oil Oil $14
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Immediately after polishing your legs, “hydrate with an oil to restore the skin’s moisture and build back the barrier,” Engelman says. While I am privy to One Organic Gardenia and Tea Antioxidant Body Serum ($39) as it is quickly absorbed into the skin and comes in a mess-free bottle, Engelman says her “go-to” is Bio Oil, a great option for those who are looking for a heavy dose of hydration.

4. Moisturize

Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster $67
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To “reinforce the integrity of the skin’s moisture barrier,” once the oil has been absorbed into your skin, Engelman recommends applying Arden’s moisturizer. While you can use your own moisturizer of choice, Engelman prefers this lotion formulated with a probiotic complex that “helps optimize the skin’s microflora to help strengthen defense against possible infections.” Which, if you think about it, is rather important considering the mini abrasions possible from over-exfoliation or shaving.

5. When In Doubt, Use A Two-In-One Formula

iS Clinical Body Complex $62
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If you don’t have time for the full step-by-step exfoliation process, Engelman recommends using this two-in-one exfoliating and hydrating lotion that uses fruit acids and white willow bark extract to increase cell turnover and reveal smooth radiant legs. Since you’re already exfoliating your legs, Engelman encourages you to take care of your feet as well with Cutex Heel Repair Lotion ($8).

Want more tips on how to get radiant legs? Check out these seven products for gorgeously glowy legs.

Opening Image: The File

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