To say I love skincare is an understatement. I have three drawers filled with cleansers, an entire cabinet full of just serums, and my fridge stores more moisturizers than vegetables (sorry, mom). I use the following products in this specific order: makeup remover, cleanser, toner, serum (two different ones: one for morning and another that contains retinol at night), acne treatment, eye cream, and moisturizer. I use a peel once a week and mask every so often. While a regimen this extreme may seem like a pain, I absolutely love it.
I’m not alone in thinking this. According to a report by the NPD® Group, the beauty industry reached over $18 billion in sales in 2018, with the skincare category contributing to 60 percent of the industry’s total gains. We, beauty consumers, have finally come to understand that no amount of makeup can hide what happens when you don’t take care of your skin – at least the skin on our faces.
My complexion is blemish-free and smooth, thanks to my rigorous face routine, but the rest of my body is another story. There are small breakouts that run on my shoulders and lower back. In the winter, I’m way too lazy to bother slathering body oil every day since my legs and arms are usually covered. My elbows are cracked. My feet are blister-prone and callused. I even shave my legs without shaving cream – or even soap – to speed up my showering time.
..As it turns out, we all tend to be a little more neglectful of the skin below our necks. The body care category within skincare made up only five percent of prestige skincare sales in 2017, and while it grew last year, we all still have room for improvement. “We don’t tend to look at our body as much as our face, and it’s often concealed with clothing, so people can ignore it,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman. “We don’t start to think about the body until it is summer or right before going on vacation.” Alternatively, she points out that we look at our faces in the mirror multiple times a day, so it’s under more scrutiny.
After years of giving my face a level of TLC that my body could only dream about, I decided to embark on a month-long experiment to treat my body like my face.
My Body Care Plan
Our skin is our body’s largest organ and requires thorough care from top to toe. What you may not know is that our skin is naturally acidic. According to the dermatologist and DERMAdoctor® founder Audrey Kunin, our skin has an acid mantle, which she likens to rooftop shingles, that acts as a protective barrier to keep skin looking healthy. (It’s also our first line of defense against bacteria.) However, with aging and lack of care, the acid mantle weakens, resulting in dry, rough-looking skin.
For this reason, she says body scrubs and peels should be at the top of a body routine – they’ll help slough off dead cells to keep you smooth and silky. Kunin also recommends looking for acidic formulas, such as ones made with glycolic or lactic acid. “Body care does require maintenance, but not as vigorous [as the face],” adds Engelman. “Most body care regimens consist of proper cleansing, moisturizing, and occasional treatments.”
With all that in mind, I planned on adding rejuvenating scrubs to my body routine to help decongest and clarify, nourishing cleansers and lotions for boosted hydration, and light chemical peels to aid in cellular turnover.
My Back, Chest, Arms, and Legs Routine
Full disclosure: I already spend way too long getting ready in the morning. I say it’s because I take extra care of my long hair but, really, I like to linger in the shower. The idea of adding more time to take care of my body made me put off this experiment, but as is the case with any routine, starting is the hardest part and you eventually get used to it.
I started to exfoliate my body three times a week with the SkinFix® Resurface+TM Glycolic Renewing Scrub. This pre-shower treatment is loaded with glycolic and lactic acids to help loosen up dead skin cells so you can rinse them away. Is it weird standing outside the shower naked while dry scrubbing? Absolutely. Did I notice a change in my skin? Absolutely. My skin felt softer almost immediately and, with time, the acne scars on my arms and back started to fade.
On days that I didn’t exfoliate my body, I used the NécessaireTM The Body WashTM. This multivitamin cleanser (it’s made with vitamins A, E, B3, C, and E) has a gel-oil consistency that feels incredibly soothing when you slather it on. Once you massage it in, it foams up really nicely for a deep cleanse.
Daily, I also used the Nécessaire The Body LotionTM immediately after drying off, because damp skin retains added moisture better than dry skin. This lotion contains the same vitamins as the body wash, plus three hydrating oils (marula, cacao, and meadowfoam) for the smoothest and softest skin of my life.
At night, Engelman suggested using something thicker to lock in hydration, which the body loses during the sleep cycle. Before bed, I slathered on the REN® Clean Skincare Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil. It’s rich without leaving skin greasy, and the smell of rose is divine and calming, which helped me drift off more easily. This was probably my favorite and simplest addition to my new routine – anything that helps me decompress and de-stress is something I am always down for.
My Hands and Feet Routine
Engelman says the areas that are most exposed, like the feet and hands, require more attention. Baths can be especially helpful for this, thanks to the full-body submersion – but due to expensive New York living standards, I don’t have a bathtub. Luckily, there were other things I could do to take care of my feet and hands.
I admittedly was too nervous to try the powerfully skin-sloughing Baby Foot®; so I opted for foot masks, which are milder, but still a restorative option. On days I masked my face, I masked my feet, too, with Karuna® Exfoliating+TM Foot Mask. This treatment is essentially a sock filled with a hydrating serum that you wear for 20 minutes. I highly recommend planning your use of this product strategically – it may seem like an obvious thing, but you seriously cannot walk around in serum-filled socks. (Apologies to the food delivery man who had to wait a long time for me to reach my buzzer and open my door.) After a few weeks of use, though, my feet were less cracked, my calluses smoothed out, and I even broke in a new pair of heels with no blisters in sight.
For my hands, I switched out my hand soap for the new Lauren B. Beauty® Oil-Based Hand Cleanser (launches in May), which is made with rosehip, avocado, and other essential oils to not only clean debris but keep hands soft. I stashed the hyaluronic and amino-acid-filled Lauren B. Beauty Ultra Rehydrating Creme (launches in May) in my purse to apply whenever frigid air made my mitts feel too dry.
To complete my hand care regimen, I applied the Lauren B. Beauty Rejuvenating Hand Serum (launches in May) nightly. Yes, it’s definitely a superfluous step – and I had to keep the bottle next to my bed to ensure I stuck to it – but the results were worth it. It’s designed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines while protecting skin from UV damage with ingredients like knotgrass extract and hyaluronic acid (you should also consider adding an SPF hand cream to your daily regimen!).
It’s not a shocker that because I took the time and effort to take care of my body, the acne on my back started to disappear and both my hands and feet felt smoother and less calloused. If you want smoother and clearer skin everywhere, you’ve got to put in the work and investment. That said, if you don’t mind burning through your favorite face care formulas faster, Engelman notes that you can use the same products you use on your face on your body.
[Editor’s note: Before trying, talk to your doctor to be sure your facial products are safe and effective on your body.]
I must admit, though, the time commitment is still a challenge for me to reconcile. I’m now adding a good extra 15 to 20 minutes more to my regimen (which requires an earlier wake-up call if I don’t want to be late to morning meetings).
I know that on days when I’m extremely pressed for time, this routine will be the first thing I cut back on. Still, with summer around the corner, I’m sure I’ll make more of an effort to keep up this new routine: the extra care I gave my body was 100 percent worth it.