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Whether you like to use your best bath bombs and immerse yourself in a good tub or you’re more of a fan of the quick 15-minute rinse, the most important part of any body-care routine is the products you use. Though it’s not uncommon to hear about a 10-step routine for the face, the skin below the neck often doesn’t get the same amount of love.
“Just like the face, it is important to build the right skin-care routine for your body,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, associate professor of Dermatology and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells POPSUGAR. Though there are some pretty common steps that everyone should have covered when it comes to a body-care routine — like cleansing the skin at least once a day — you may have specific concerns like “bacne” or dryness that you want to addressed, and a generic wash-and-go regimen may not cut it.
While you could apply the products that you’ve been using on your face to the rest of your body, that’ll likely cause you to speed through them quicker than you’d like, which is why it’s helpful to have designated products for these areas. The ingredients that you use on your face tend to have the same effect on the rest of your skin, so below, Dr. Zeichner explains what you should be paying attention to when building a good body-care routine.
Building a Body-Care Routine For Normal Skin
Your body-care regimen will depend entirely on the concerns that you want to address. If you are amongst the very lucky few that have a normal skin type, you can reach for any cleanser that you wish for bathing, as long as it isn’t too harsh. For body lotions, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for.
“Lotions or gels are great options for people with normal skin,” Dr. Zeichner says. “When shopping, note that a good formula contains a blend of three ingredients: occlusives, humectants, and emollients.” For the first category, look for ingredients like petrolatum or dimethicone. “These form a protective seal over the skin to prevent loss of hydration,” he adds. When looking for humectants, search for ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin — they act like sponges to pull hydration into the skin. Emollient ingredients can be labeled as ceramides or natural oils. These smooth and soften rough patches on the skin’s surface.
Dr. Zeichner’s recommendation? Eucerin’s Advanced Repair Lotion ($16). “It combines ceramides into the formula to protect the skin along with natural moisturizing factors to pull in hydration to the outer skin layer,” he says.
Building a Body Care Routine For Dry Skin
Now that you have the building blocks of your body-care routine, you can address specific concerns like dry skin by either adding in an extra product or step.
“If you have dry skin, look for a rich formula when it comes to moisturizers,” Dr. Zeichner says. Depending on the severity of your dryness, you may want a moisturizer that’s higher in occlusives or emollients. You can find this information my looking at the ingredient list on the packaging; the closer the ingredient is to the beginning of the list, the higher the concentration in the formula. Dr. Zeichner recommends the Lanolips 101 Multipurpose Balm ($17). “This product uses lanolin as its hero ingredient to soften and protect the skin,” he says. “This is the same ingredient that makes sheep’s wool waterproof.”
An editor favorite for dry skin is the Necessaire Body Serum ($45), which contains ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. Layer this one before your moisturizer and your dry skin will exit the chat expeditiously.
For regular maintenance, very gentle exfoliation is key. Products like the AmLactin Moisturizing Lotion 12 Percent ($17, originally $25) do double duty.
Building a Body Care Routine For Acne-Prone Skin
When it comes to acne-prone skin, there are a few steps that will need adjusting. “People with body acne should use a medicated cleanser,” Ted Lain, MD, MBA, FAAD, and board-certified dermatologist says. Ingredients you should look out for include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. “The latter, in particular, is a stronger, more active ingredient, so make sure to completely wash off the product when using it so as not to bleach towels,” Dr. Lain says. We recommend CeraVe’s Body Wash with Salicylic Acid ($13)
Where all skin types, but especially acne-prone and dry skin, find common ground is the need to exfoliate gently. “If you see flakes, you should listen to what your skin needs and moisturize first,” Dr. Zeichner says. “Scrubbing already dry skin can further disrupt your skin barrier and make the situation worse.” If you’re after the radiance that exfoliating provides, do it once weekly. This can help keep the skin looking glowy without causing barrier disruption.
Body care doesn’t have to be intimidating, and it will feel less so as long as you know what you’re looking for. You can get into the weeds and add more serums and oils if you want to take your regimen up a notch, but if you’re new to the field, then these products are a good place to start.