The Luxury of Turkish Baths
By Amy Zimmer
Exfoliation is not a modern discovery, but one known for its healing benefits since ancient times. The process of cell regeneration slows as we age, meaning that our body is slower to shed dead cells and regenerate new ones. Old cells pile up and leave the skin’s surface looking dull, rough and dry. The dead cells can eventually lead to clogged pores, excess oil, blemishes and acne. Proper exfoliation removes that barrier of dead cells and uncovers new cells below. This allows moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply, nourishing the skin more effectively. The result leaves your skin looking fresh and healthy.
In the Middle Ages, it was common practice to bathe in old wine because its tartaric acid content made it an effective exfoliant; products containing natural levels of alpha hydroxy acids were fashionable until the late 1800s. That changed when German dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna’s extensive research led him to scientifically formulate the earliest chemical peels. His pioneering research with salicylic acid is still used today.
Exfoliating should be a full-body practice year round. If we only focus on taking care of our face, the rest of our bodies will start to show the true age of our skin.
My favorite full body experience takes place in a Turkish bath, or hammam. Although this Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath originated in Arabia, it soon became a popular Turkish tradition. Think of it as the wet relative of the sauna—but with added benefits.