There’s a lot to relish in with the start of shorts season: The ability to leisurely walk out the front door without checking the weather or wearing socks; skin-baring apparel that becomes climatically acceptable at all hours of the day. This is great and freeing, unless your skin-to-be-bared doesn’t feel at all ready to be exposed.
Not long ago, though, a friend, who’d visited Istanbul to source kilim carpets, sent me a care package with a gift that piqued my interest. The parcel contained a flimsy, rectangular fingerless mitt. In her note, she said the Hammam Mitt was a staple at Turkish bathhouses, where people soak and steam before getting a sturdy rubdown with one of these textured viscose-blend gloves, until layers of their skin shed off like a snake’s. The dry, dead skin rolled off like chocolate curls, leaving behind limbs that are both supple and squeaky-clean to the touch.
I followed her instructions, adding a dollop of whatever body wash was in my shower, and was pleased that the wet glove was gentle enough to remove delicate layers of a shedding sunburn, while still providing a vigorous exfoliation to the rest of my body. The key is to wait until you’ve been soaking for a bit, glove, and then apply pressure while stroking your limbs in back-and-forth motions. Rub too hard or briskly, and it teeters on masochism, but a steady but firm scrape is soothing and particularly satisfying across the lower back. I didn’t notice clumps of dead skin washing away, but I did find that it created a sleeker-than-usual surface for shaving and soaking up moisturizer. It wasn’t until a few days of regular use that I noticed the bumps on my arms and legs had faded, and the rest of my bod appeared healthier and glowier from consistent use. It’s like those elimination diets that promote better skin from within, but instead of laying off dairy or wheat, you eliminate a layer of your epidermis.
Online reviews raved about the mitt’s ability to prevent ingrown hairs and banish cellulite, and while I can’t speak to those claims, I’ve never had such an excellent palette of skin: perfectly smoothed for shaving, moisturizing, and even sunless-tanner distribution. I’ve started traveling with it to slough off atmospheric airport grime, and reinvigorate heavy calves and ankles — the scrubbing tension is more cleansing and gratifying than soapy slime slathered onto a cloth. I’ve also found it to be useful between seasons, when dry, itchy skin strikes and you want to start fresh. To clean the glove, I follow my friend’s advice and boil it in hot water to disinfect it between uses. I make sure to soak it well — it has plenty of work to do.
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