Just Being Honest: You Need a Better Body-Care Routine

If you only focus on the skin under your chin in the summer, it’s now begging for your love. Whether it’s a swimsuit or a ski suit, your body needs a skin care routine that is just as comprehensive and effective as your facial skin care, only less complicated. Use this story as your basic guide to establishing a skin-approved body care routine that you can actually follow and stick to. What follows are 4 unskippable steps (spoiler alert, you need body SPF all year round), 21 must-try products, and 6 popular treatments you and your skin need right now.

The core principles of a good body care routine: cleanse, moisturize and apply SPF sunscreen. Here’s how it’s done.

Cleansing: The only strict rule here is to avoid body washes and sulfate detergents (often noted as sodium lauryl/lauryl sulfate in the ingredient list). They can remove the skin’s natural oils and damage its protective skin barrier, says dermatologist Heather Rogers, M.D. So do your skin a favor and wash with a sulfate-free formula such as the three below.

Moisturize: Everyone — yes, literally you, the person reading these words at this very moment! — should use a moisturizer, says dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, M.D. “To effectively hydrate your skin and lock in moisture, look for a formula with hyaluronic acid, glycerin and/or ceramides.” You can find them in a variety of products, from lightweight gel creams to thick body butters, such as the three below. Find one you like and apply it immediately after your shower (while your skin is still wet), then use it throughout the day as needed.

While we’re on the topic of skin hydration, let’s take a moment to talk about body oils. This popular favorite complements moisturizer, but does not replace it. Massage it into damp skin and apply your regular lotion on top, or mix the two together for extra dewiness, says Dr. Hartman. Shop our favorite body oils below.

Protection: There’s no doubt you should apply sunscreenApply SPF 30 or higher to any part of your body that is exposed to the sun, says Dr. Hartman: “UV exposure is the leading cause of premature aging, not to mention skin cancer – whether in July or January .” Look for lightweight lotion formulations with fast-absorbing textures (like the editorial favorites below) that make application and reapplication easier.

Everything you’ve just read will keep your skin healthy and happy. But the serums and treatments below – both containing potent, high-performance actives such as niacinamide and retinol – play a pivotal role in brightening the complexion or fighting acne, among other things, says Dr. Hartman.

Using a chemical exfoliant a few times a week is the move here according to Dr. Hartman and Dr. Rogers. Ingredients such as glycolic and salicylic acids dissolve dull, dead skin cells, smooth out rough or uneven texture and unclog pores. Ahead of time, try three skin-approved body exfoliators as soon as possible.

You may have noticed that we haven’t included any body scrubs here, and that’s because they’re not our experts’ preferred method of exfoliation (Dr. Rogers says they can cause skin inflammation and microtears). But we get it: scrubs are just …… very satisfying to use. So if you’re going to use one, choose a formula made from non-abrasive jojoba beads or bamboo powder (like Drunk Elephant’s Scrubbi Bamboes body wash) instead of jagged shells or seeds, and use it once a week at most.

This step is for bonus points. These six at-home devices and in-office therapies are your “must-haves” because while you don’t need them, they will definitely up your body’s skin game.

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