When it comes to skincare, people tend to put more emphasis on their face than on the rest of their body. In fact, many of us fall into the trap of completely neglecting our skin from the neck down. The problem with this is that sooner or later, that neglect catches up to us in the form of dull, uneven tone, leathery/crepey texture, loss of firmness, and other body skin concerns that could have been easily prevented or treated. The good news is adding body care to your regular skincare or shower routine doesn’t have to take much time or effort.
Below, we compile research-backed solutions for tackling your top body skin concerns, from bumps and bacne breakouts, to reducing hyperpigmentation and warding off signs of ageing, including crepey skin.
Body care starts with sunscreen
Sun damage creates and amplifies many of the body skin concerns we face – and that doesn’t just mean painful sunburns or uncomfortable heat rash. If you’re not diligent about regular sun protection, visible signs eventually show up years later in the form of dark spots, loss of firmness, etched lines, dull tone, and rough texture on exposed areas.
However it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start including sun protection into your daily skincare routine. After all, it’s as simple as applying and reapplying sunscreen, which is one of the most effective ways to ward off further signs of ageing and more importantly, reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Our suggestion: Find a lightweight body sunscreen that dries down quickly with a non-greasy finish to minimise the chances of it rubbing off on your clothes or melting off you as you sweat under the hot sun. If it contains additional beneficial ingredients like antioxidants, that’s an added bonus to deliver an extra boost of defence against environmental stressors, while delivering built-in anti-ageing properties.
Exfoliating your body: the step everyone can benefit from
A simple skincare routine doesn’t just involve trying new products; you need to regularly exfoliate and clear out dead skin to give your body a total refresh. Built-up dead skin can create a number of issues, including skin that looks lacklustre, rough textured, or riddled with clogged pores and bumps.
Most people don’t even realise this dead layer of skin is there until they use an exfoliating body scrub and reveal fresher-looking, smoother skin hiding underneath … but harsh scrubs aren’t necessarily the answer. Instead, opt for a hydroxy acid-based body lotion that gently yet effectively exfoliates, softens skin, improves smoothness, and enhances hydration.
Both alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) body treatments work great in this regard — pick based on your top concerns.
- Visibly rough, flaky, dry skin? Signs of sun damage? An AHA body lotion is the way to go.
- Bumpy texture or clogged pores? Signs of post-blemish marks? Ingrown hairs? A BHA body treatment is the ideal choice, as it penetrates deeper to eliminate congestion within pores/the follicular lining and alleviates redness. BHA is even suitable for skin prone to keratosis pilaris.
Still unsure which hydroxy acid suits your skincare needs best? Learn more about the difference between AHA and BHA skin products.
Powerful body care ingredients
The same powerful ingredients that have been proven to target concerns on facial skin work just as well for body skincare. Here are top options to choose from based on your body skin concerns:
- If your goal is to brighten dull, sallow skin, and/or minimise signs of uneven tone on arms, legs, chest, etc., try a niacinamide body serum. Niacinamide also supports the skin’s barrier, making it more resilient and healthier in appearance.
- If you want to tackle several signs of ageing skin from the neck down all at once, a retinol body treatment is the way to go. Retinol rejuvenates the feeling of firmer skin while improving the appearance of wrinkled, leathery skin. Find out what else retinol can do for your skin.
- If your skin has become more crepey, inelastic, and thinner in volume (skin changes associated with oestrogen deficiency), adding a non-hormonal phytoestrogen body treatment can make an impactful difference. Look for soy-derived ingredients like equol, genistein, and daidzein and other antioxidants like resveratrol to give skin a plumper, and more supple feel.
Body acne deserves its own section. Anyone who has struggled with breakouts on their back (the dreaded “bacne”), neck, thighs, chest, or booty knows all too well how frustrating and stubborn they are.
Whether on the face or the body, acne responds to the same key active ingredients to treat the problem. However, in some cases, a different delivery system can be beneficial in targeting the hard-to-reach areas on the body.
Here’s how to nip body breakouts in the bud:
- Cleanse skin with a gentle, soap-free, fragrance-free body wash (fragrance is a known skin irritant, whether natural or synthetic).
- Apply BHA (also known as salicylic acid) to decongest breakout-prone areas. We recommend a 2% salicylic acid body spray with a 360-degree nozzle that you can hold upside down to access every part of your back and other hard-to-reach areas.
- Finish with a benzoyl peroxide treatment to target root triggers of acne. Abundant research shows that benzoyl peroxide prevents future breakouts and reduces stubborn acne, wherever it lurks on your body.
Also, let’s make sure you’re not currently using products that make body breakouts worse:
- Avoid bar soaps. The ingredients in bar cleansers can clog pores, dry the skin, and make the appearance of redness worse.
- Don’t use abrasive body scrubs or loofahs. Acne cannot be scrubbed away; using abrasive products will only serve to aggravate it more. Using an abrasive scrub on an active breakout may also burst the pustules or pimples, leading to a risk of infection that will prolong or worsen the breakout.
- Be careful with heavy, thick hair conditioners that may leave residue on skin. Make sure you’re adequately rinsing the product off and washing the areas of skin that your hair conditioner comes into contact with.
Learn more about body acne.
References for this information
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, March 2020, ePublication
International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, June 2019, pages 85–90
Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology, September 2016, pages 1480-1490; and August 2006, pages 781-7
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2016, pages 1121-1123
Dermatology Research and Practice, February 2015, ePublication
Dermatology, May 2014, pages 314-325
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, January 2013, pages 16-26; and June 2011, pages 45-55
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, August 2012, Page 19-24
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, February 2000, pages 21-52