From Keratosis Pilaris to Bacne: The Expert Guide to Body Care
The skin is our body’s largest organ; in total, it covers about 21 square feet and contains approximately 300 million cells. And yet, when we speak about skincare, we often focus on our face, neck, and chest while leaving everything else behind. That’s a whole lot of skin that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
Our back, legs, bum, elbows, hands, shoulders...they all have skin concerns, too. Our body can sag, wrinkle, break out, and exhibit signs of dryness, irritation, and hyperpigmentation. So how do you take care of the skin below your chin? Can you use the same ingredients and products you use on your face? Learn how to create an effective body care regimen, including the best body care products to use, below.
WHAT DO I NEED TO START A BODY CARE ROUTINE?When shopping for body care, you’ll find products meant for the skin beneath your shoulders down to your feet. Think body lotions, washes, scrubs, oils, sunscreen, and even masks. Sometimes the decollétage will be included, but most skincare products that are meant for the face can be applied to the neck and chest, too. (In fact, when it comes to products like retinol and our Advanced Night Cream, we recommend it.)
HOW DOES THE SKIN ON OUR BODY DIFFER FROM OUR FACE?
Not all skin is the same, and that’s especially true when comparing your body to your face. There are three major differences between the two:
Thickness: The layers of fat beneath the skin on our body are much thicker than our face. Our hands and feet are the thickest of all, given these two parts are designed to withstand heavy use and force. This also means the body is much less sensitive.
Number of Oil Glands: Our face has more active oil glands than the rest of us, so we tend to experience more dryness, flaking, and ashiness on our elbows, knees, and other parts of the body.
Cellular Turnover Rate: The body has a slower cellular turnover rate, which is why fine lines typically show up on our face before anywhere else. This, however, also means body scars and dark spots can take much longer to heal.
COMMON SKIN ISSUES ON YOUR BODY
Pretty much any skincare concern you have on your face can appear on your body as well. Here are some of the most common body care concerns:Body Acne
Blackheads, whiteheads, and inflammatory acne (like cystic pimples) can show up anywhere, not just your face. Bacne is extremely common and can occur due to hormones, bacteria, sweat, lack of cleansing, tight-fitting clothing, dead skin cell buildup, and even your shower routine.
A pro tip from Licensed Esthetician Danielle Lawrence is to wash and condition your hair before your body and face. “Most hair care products, especially conditioners, leave a film of product on our skin as well as in our hair and, most of the time, that film is then deposited into the pores on our back. Eventually, it will build up and clog the pores, which will often lead to bacne.” Also, never shower in piping hot water; heat triggers inflammation, a leading cause for breakouts. Besides that, spritz acne-fighting ingredients onto your back, shoulders, bum, and more with the Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist. Or, give yourself a bacial.
Also known as “chicken skin”, this bumpy texture happens when there’s a buildup of keratin. This protein clogs the hair follicles, which is why many experience KP on their arms, legs, and other places with body hair.
Those with chicken skin may need a bit more exfoliation to help unclog the pores. Look for a gentle body scrub, like our sensitive skin-approved AHA Exfoliating Body Scrub, to treat bumps and dry patches.
Because our body has fewer oil glands, it tends to feel drier, requiring thicker lotions and creams. We recommend applying a body oil (like Keep It Supple) or a body lotion after showering to restore moisture and leave skin feeling soft and smooth. You can also spot treat dry patches.
Ample moisturization is vital for those with eczema too. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, make sure your moisturizer is fragrance-free and try soaking in a warm bath to relieve itchiness.Sagging, Crepey Skin
One of the major signs of aging skin is thinning, crepey texture and a loss of firmness and elasticity. While we can’t prevent growing older, we can help strengthen our skin’s moisture barrier (yes, our body has one, too) to prevent the premature degradation of collagen and elastin—the building blocks of skin’s structure. Apply ingredients like retinol, peptides, and microalgae to help firm and lift tired skin, then protect it from pollution and sun damage with daily SPF. Our Press Restart Gentle Retinol Body Lotion repairs more than just dryness, firming skin and delivering a glow from head to toe.
Due to the body’s slow cellular turnover rate, brightening up stubborn hyperpigmentation can be particularly challenging. Deep scarring may require professional assistance, but you can help lighten dark spots and marks with consistent exfoliation and daily sun protection. Try an AHA exfoliant like our body scrub or, if you’re a fan of Weekend Glow, you can swipe a Reusable Cotton Pad soaked with formula across the underarms, knees, bum, or anywhere else you’re experiencing discoloration (including uneven tan lines).
Technically an autoimmune condition, psoriasis occurs when the body overproduces skin cells, leading to scaly patches that can itch or burn. Those with psoriasis typically experience flareups on their body, such as the scalp, nails, elbows, and knees.
Because retinol speeds up cellular turnover and encourages the dead skin cells to flake off, it can be particularly beneficial for those with psoriasis. With a derm’s a-okay, try incorporating retinol into your PM routine. Keep things gentle (perhaps by using encapsulated retinol) to avoid irritating the skin.Razor Bumps and Ingrown Hairs
Anyone who has ever shaved has probably experienced ingrown hairs and/or razor bumps at some point. These are a pain, but easy to fix. Exfoliate beforehand, use a sharp—not dull—razor blade, and don’t forget shaving cream (or sub in our Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm instead).
Let’s normalize stretch marks and cellulite, okay? Whether you get them due to pregnancy, weight fluctuations, or good ole genetics, these two conditions are extremely common and sorry to say, not easily treatable. While some recommend laser or light therapy, there isn’t sufficient evidence to back up whether these treatments actually work. What you can do is work on reducing their appearance by moisturizing the skin with ingredients like cocoa butter and squalane. And of course, work on accepting and appreciating your body despite any marks and lines.
WHAT SKINCARE PRODUCTS SHOULD YOU USE ON YOUR BODY?
Particularly true of those who abide by skin-minimalism (or just don’t want to spend a ton of $$$ on products), you may wonder if you can double dip by applying body care to your face or facial skincare to your body.
Because the skin on our body is thicker and less sensitive than our face, anything you apply to your face will probably work on your body as well. For example, if you don’t want to purchase an acne body wash, try using our Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser on the shoulders and chest instead. We especially recommend doing this if you have a product—such as a moisturizer—that you don’t love but also don’t want to waste.
We don’t, however, recommend applying body care to your face. Body products are designed for thick, dry skin and could cause your face to break out or feel greasy.
Shop bacne products, a scrub for keratosis pilaris, and more below.