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Soften Up Your Skin

Summer means showing off your skin, so now's the time to make sure yours is smooth and supple from head to toe. Pamper yourself with these pro secrets.

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Ericka McConnell
woman in bikini on the beach
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
Ericka McConnell
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Tips for Soft Lips

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To buff away stubborn flakes, dip a damp toothbrush in baking soda and gently massage it over dry lips. Rinse, then pat dry and follow with a swipe of a balm infused with lanolin, which draws in moisture, says Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. One that's light is Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm ($7, drugstore.com).

Stay Smooth Forever
Three ways to keep chapping at bay: (1) Avoid licking lips; saliva contains enzymes that break down skin. (2) Instead of wearing long-lasting stains, which are especially drying, use conditioning balms and glosses. (3) Drink eight cups of water daily; H2O hydrates skin cells from the inside out, plumping lips with moisture.

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Tips for Soft Legs

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Try this routine to brighten dull skin: Mix 1/2 cup white sugar (it melts quickly and doesn't sting) with 1/2 cup olive oil. Then sit in a warm bath for a couple of minutes before you rub a handful of the scrub all over your legs and rinse. "Soaking first breaks up the bonds of dead cells so they fall off more easily," says Cheryl Karcher, MD, an Avon consulting dermatologist.

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In the shower, use a cream-based cleanser that contains hydrating petrolatum, such as Dove Cream Oil Body Wash with NutriumMoisture ($4.49, drugstores). Afterward, apply a lotion with glycerin, such as Johnson's Body Care 24 Hour Body Lotion ($3.99, drugstores), to damp skin. Warm the bottle in a sink full of hot water while you bathe. "You'll be able to massage the lotion in easily, plus the warmth helps it be absorbed more readily," says Donna Perillo, owner of Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa & Boutique in New York City.

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Get Soft Feet

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The skin on your heels is thick and especially prone to calluses from exercising. Start exfoliating by rubbing in an alpha hydroxy acid cream, like Pedicure by OPI Soften ($12.95, opi.com for salons). Next, Perillo recommends using Diamancel #11 The Tough Buffer ($49, blissworld.com) on your heels to remove rough spots.

Stay Smooth Forever
For feather-soft feet, apply a cream with glycolic acid, which helps break down the outer layer of your skin, before bed. A fast-acting one: DDF Pedi-Cream ($32, drugstore.com). Follow with a rich balm containing deeply nourishing shea butter, such as Sally Hansen Just Feet Dry Heel Balm ($6.25, drugstores), then put on socks to help it penetrate.

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Soften Up Your Arms

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The pimplelike bumps that often surface on the triceps are called keratosis pilaris -- pores that have been clogged with hardened skin cells. To clear them up, rinse with a wash containing a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), such as salicylic acid, which is found in Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Body Wash ($6.39, drugstores).

Stay Smooth Forever
Though it may seem counterintuitive, it's crucial not to scrub any trouble spots on your upper arms. "Rubbing will only inflame these sensitive patches," Dr. Karcher says. Instead, slather on a lotion with exfoliating and moisturizing lactic acid twice a day to stay bump-free. Try lightweight Vaseline Renewal Age-Redefining Body Lotion ($5.99, drugstores).

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Get Soft Hands

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Smooth hands instantly with this concoction from Dr. Karcher: Combine 1/2 cup dry oatmeal with 1/4 cup water and massage the mix into palms and fingers, focusing on knuckles and cuticles. Rinse and then rub in a cream that's packed with water-trapping petrolatum, such as nongreasy Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Hand Cream ($5.99, drugstores).

Stay Smooth Forever
Constant sun exposure makes hands vulnerable to dryness, so use an SPF-enriched lotion like Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Age Shield Hand Cream SPF 30 ($5.69, drugstores) daily. Other enemies: hot water and harsh soaps. Look for cream-based cleansers that are free of soap and fragrance. We suggest Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Liquid Moisture Soap ($6.50, kissmyface.com).

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Soften Up Your Knees and Elbows

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Smooth rough spots with an enzyme-based scrub; a good one is Yes to Carrots Moisturizing Body Scrub ($9.99, drugstores). The fruit extracts zap dead cells, revealing newer, healthier skin underneath. But if your dryness is persistent, see a derm. "These areas are common sites for psoriasis," Dr. Fusco says.

Stay smooth forever
Use textured gloves, like Earth Therapeutics Exfoliating Hydro Gloves ($4.99, earththerapeutics.net), every day to slough dead skin cells in the shower, advises Annet King, director of education for Dermalogica. Then hydrate with a rich cream containing urea, which not only moisturizes but also dissolves dry layers. We like Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Body Creme ($8.69, drugstores).

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2010.

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