The past few years have highlighted just how invested we are in our skin. Our routines are becoming more and more intricate, with added steps and more advanced, niche ingredients, and for the most part, our faces have never looked healthier.
But among all this excitement surrounding our complexions, we often forget to care for the rest of the skin on our bodies. While our faces require extra attention as they are most sensitive and exposed, we mustn’t forget to give our bodies some love to ensure soft, smooth and healthy skin all over.
OK, so you might already slap on a bit of moisturiser from time to time, but there’s a growing case for a comprehensive body regime, using products similar to those that we use on our face. ‘Certain ingredients we use in our skincare products to target areas of concern on the face can also be very effective on the body,’ notes Dr Howard Murad, dermatologist and founder of Murad skincare.
Big name brands have already started dropping new ranges to target specific body concerns, so we’ve highlighted some of the most commonly used skincare ingredients, and how you can use them to your advantage.
Whole body skincare: The ingredients you need to know about
AHAs & chemical exfoliants
On our faces, AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) and PHAs (polyhydroxy acid) are used to exfoliate. They each have varying molecule sizes, and the smaller the molecule size, the deeper it can penetrate. Sensitive skin is best treated with PHAs, which have a larger molecule size that can’t get too deep down into skin, for example.
Our bodies are just as much in need as our faces for exfoliation. And while our bodies can tolerate scrub textures better than the skin on our faces, they too can suffer from being over-scrubbed and tugged at. Chemical exfoliants, however, are a safe bet.
‘AHAs are more about dead skin cell sloughing so are perfect for face and body,’ says David Delport, Global Ambassador and REN Clean Skincare product expert. ‘They target uneven texture, sluggish skin turnover, congested pores, pigmentation.’
For whole body skincare, you can either mix a little of your facial exfoliant in with your body lotion, or invest in one of the following absolutely brilliant body products.
Also note that clay is a great ingredient for skin that suffers from acne and other congestion, so a clay body product can also work wonders.
AHA and exfoliant products for the body
Vitamin C is an excellent ingredient in facial skincare, and works for just about everyone. Not only does it inject the skin with a hefty dose of antioxidants (perfect for pollution protection), it also offers a healthy glow by brightening, and helps to even out areas of uneven skin texture and tone. There are plenty of ways to incorporate vitamin C into your skincare, from serums to masks, but what about in your body care routine?
Well, it’s advisable to give it a go, particularly if you suffer from issues such as sun damage. ‘Brightening agents, which aim to reduce the appearance of pigmentation, may be used [for sun damage], including vitamin C,’ notes Nicola Kilner, Co-Founder & CEO of DECIEM.
Try one of these vitamin C-powered body lotions to see what she means.
Vitamin C products for the body
Vitamin A derivative retinol is a bit of a wonder product for the face. Not only does it help with fine lines and signs of ageing, it also enhances collagen production, improves skin tone and texture, and can also really help with acne.
But seeing as retinol is primarily used for targeting things like wrinkles and lines, why would we need to need to use it in whole body skincare routines? Well, retinol can help with acne just as much on the body as it can on the face, and improves the texture of skin everywhere, while encouraging collagen production all over. Retinol also can help to boost the skin’s firmness, which is an excellent feature for skin on the body.
Retinol is also effective for skin that’s been exposed to the sun, as it helps to limit effects of issues like pigmentation. But if you suffer from sensitive skin or don’t fancy the increased sun sensitivity that comes with real retinol (you should always use an SPF in tandem), Delport recommends trying bio retinoids.
‘These plant molecules behave the same way [as retinol] by limiting pigmentation and boosting flagging collagen. But all without the potential inflammation release and photosensitivity. Bio retinoids provide ‘everything you need to recover from some summer sun indulgence,’ he says.
Retinol products for the body
Most of us already know the wonders of hyaluronic acid. The super hydrating ingredient can hold up to 1000x its own weight in water, making it an excellent choice for skin. Our bodies produce hyaluronic acid, but applying it topically can boost the hydration of surface levels.
The same goes for the skin on our bodies. Certain areas – such as the legs – can get so dry that they begin to itch or flake. Our bodies rely on being moisturised topically, particularly after a hot shower, which can strip the skin and encourage dryness. Hyaluronic acid is a wonder ingredient for whole body skincare that helps to target dryness all over you skin.
‘To target skin dryness, a product or regimen including both water-loving ingredients (e.g. hyaluronic acid) and oil-loving ingredients (e.g. squalane) will be able to maintain optimal hydration,’ agrees Kilner.
As well as hyaluronic acid and squalane, look for products that contain ceramides, which help to protect the skin’s surface barrier, which locks moisture in. CeraVe’s body lotions and creams are ideal as they contain both ceramides and hyaluronic.
Hyaluronic acid products for the body
Feature by Rebecca Fearn.