Back in Ancient Greece, bathing was a social ritual. It wasn't so much about getting clean, because baths were public; it was more about the see-and-be-seen phenomenon that we now experience at swimming pools and beaches. Getting really clean, though, happened after all that soaking in the pool. Getting clean involved rubbing olive oil all over your body, and then scraping off the oil (and the dead skin and toxins!) with a special scraper called a strigil.
Sometimes I wish the oil-and-strigil method were still the order of the day. I love me a good scrubbing, the kind where you can feel that top layer of dead skin scraping off. But since my skin is also painfully dry, the water's inevitable removal of my natural oils is a rather unpleasant side effect of any bathing/showering/washing activity I do.
So I've found a compromise. First I scrub, then I oil.
I know you're not supposed to use scrubs that have big pieces of shell in them because they are too abrasive and actually can scratch your skin... but I really don't care. Because good ole' St. Ives Apricot Scrub feels so good -- so scrubby -- that I use it on my face every single time I shower. My face doesn't feel clean unless I scrub it, gently (not like I'm trying to scratch myself!), with the St. Ives goodness. And even though I've been using this stuff for years, just this morning I noticed a little bit of a sweet-citrusy smell that really helped me to wake up and feel more energized. I checked the back of the tube for ingredients and found some kind of flower extract oil, but I'm not quite certain if that's the source of the deliciousness. Still, it's nice to have a bit of aromatherapy (and refreshing that it's not marketed as an aromatherapeutic product and priced accordingly!) to start off the day.
When I'm feeling really splurgey (maybe once every couple of weeks), I also use Sephora Super Stars Body Scrub (which apparently isn't out anymore, but this link goes to something like it). The scrub has a creamy which smells amazing, and has giant jojoba oil beads and sugar and a ton of other good stuff that gives you a very scrubby-but-not-scratchy clean feeling.
After I've gotten all washed and scrubbed, I have to replenish those lost oils immediately. My solution has, for the last several years, been Aveeno Shower and Bath Oil. I love this stuff. I love the way it feels, I love the way it smells. I love that one bottle lasts for a very long time, and makes me feel like I'm really getting my $7 worth. But I don't so much love the way it gunks up the floor of my tub, and so I think I am ready to start looking for something else. I'd love to hear your suggestions and recommendations.