Exfoliation is the first step in any summer metamorphosis, especially one involving fake tan. After all, you wouldn't start repainting a wall – a job which is about as exciting as applying bronzer – without stripping the manky old plaster first. However, when it comes to exfoliation, stripping is the last thing one wants; rather, it's key to find a product that creates an even surface for the colour to take to without damaging the skin.

It's particularly important to exfoliate the face gently, as harsh scrubbing can cause redness or exacerbate broken capillaries. Clinique's Gentle Exfoliator (£29.36, 0870 034 2566) is suitable for sensitive skins, although if you have broken capillaries it's best to avoid those areas altogether. Another option is to remove dead skin with an enzyme-based product rather than a physical exfoliant – Bliss's Steep Clean (£35, blisslondon.co.uk) which looks like toothpaste with two different coloured creams that you mix to activate the enzymes, and Elemis' Papaya Enzyme Peel (£26, timetospa.co.uk) are excellent. Both leave the complexion much smoother and pores significantly smaller. If you can't choose between a granular or enzyme-based scrub (it is a complex metaphysical question, after all), Clinique's new Turnaround Instant Facial (£29.36) is an excellent five-minute mask which combines both processes.

Body scrubs need to be altogether more intensive to counteract the lizard-like skin induced by months of central heating and cold British weather. A professional treatment will leave your skin smoother for longer – Urban Retreat's excellent Body Double Scrubble (£65 for an hour, at Urban Retreat at Harrods, 020-7893 8333 ) consists of two consecutive scrubs, the second of which supposedly eliminates toxins and boosts circulation. Celebrity plastic surgeon Dr Brandt's Microdermabrasion Body Exfoliating Cream (£34, spacenk.co.uk) has tiny, "pharmaceutical grade" particles, and leaves the skin incredibly soft. Not only is the effect akin to a professional treatment, there is also something cathartic about shedding dead skin and revealing a peachy new complexion.