UPDATED APRIL 4-2021: Anti-Aging Skincare for the BODY
Updated: Jul 16
If you're like me, your skincare journey went like this: "I'll do ALL things possible to care for my the skin on my face...bring it on!".
Five years later: "wait, I have a neck? I need to take care of it?"
Another couple years later, "are those WRINKLES on my chest?!"
Like skin on our face, our body skin can either be nurtured or hindered by our habits and environment. Happily, as the skin on our body is generally thicker than the skin on our face it tends to age more slowly. But because the skin on our body is hidden most of the time, many of us neglect it until we begin to see bumps, crepiness, sagging, or dryness that causes incessant itching. And as body skin tends to be the source of more friction (think elbows and knees) it can present with roughness and scaling - problems that aren’t normally seen on the face.
Before we get into how best to care for our body skin, let’s cover some of the factors that can have an impact on the way our body skin ages.
*Penn Smith Skincare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program. Many links are affiliate links, meaning I am compensated when you shop through these at no extra fee to you.
1. Spending too much time in the sun. Protecting our body skin from UV rays is a critical step in maintaining hydration. But even with SPF on, skin can become dehydrated when exposed to hours of sunshine. Of course sunshine is a great source of vitamin D and wonderful for our moods, but here’s another vote for taking sun in moderation (and with SPF), even in the fall and winter.
2. Being in very dry air. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced those itchy shins that come from spending winters in a cold climate. Our shins have very few oil glands so can be the first to show signs of dehydration due to dry climates. Central heating, while a wonderful modern invention, can really rob the air of already low moisture contents in cold and windy winter environments. One solution that many find helpful is to purchase a humidifier for use in the bedroom. I like humidifiers that cover larger areas so that an entire bedroom gets a boost of humidity. Read a little more about the benefits of humidifiers in this Allure Blog post https://www.allure.com/story/humidifier-skin-benefits.
You can find humidifiers at all price points on Amazon- here is the one that I have https://amzn.to/3bVGJdF.
3. Having a stressful life. Ha! Doesn’t that describe all of us these days? But stress impacts us in soooo many ways and can have a big impact on our skin in terms of breakouts, eczema and even lowering our body’s ability to maintain good water balance. This is because the stress hormone, cortisol, is responsible for inflammation and the body's ability to retain water. And out-of-whack cortisol can cause the skin to become dull and dehydrated. Just another reason to make time for our skin: the stress relieving time we carve out for self-care is not only good for our outside, but good for our stress levels as well.
In many ways, caring for the skin on our body is similar to caring for our face, neck and décolleté - only on a much bigger scale. A good anti-aging body care routine should include vitamin A (retinoid) along with AHAs and BHAs, hydration and sun protection. Why? For the same reasons we use those things on our face: we want to encourage new cells in our dermis to behave properly while exfoliating the surface to reveal brighter, less pigmented, smooth skin. Once that's done we can focus on hydrating our skin, as we'll have removed any obstacles the hydrator may have had (an abundance dead skin cells can cause a serious road block on the way to hydration) resulting in wonderfully youthful looking skin. Then of course you'll need to be protecting this fresh new skin any time it might be exposed to the sun.
Lastly, it is not mandatory to use tools in a body care routine, but I'll share with you one of the tools I am using that has definitely upped my body care game.
THE ROUTINE: AM
Cleanse: A great way to get a gentle body exfoliation is by using a body wash with glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid. This will gently loosen up the dead skin cells that are hanging out creating a rough, dull appearance. Salicylic acid (or BHA) is fantastic in a wash because even in a rinse-off formula salicylic acid is efficacious. Due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and oil reducing nature Salicylic Acid used on the body can help with congested skin and acne. BHA can also improve skin texture by gently exfoliating the pore/follicle lining resulting in improvement in conditions like Keratosis Pilaris (rough, bumpy skin often compared to chicken skin) and ingrown hairs.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids have the ability to brighten, firm and smooth skin while signaling new collagen synthesis. The AHAs in body washes are typically glycolic acid (derived from sugarcane) and lactic acid (often from sour milk). Both work to dissolve the bonds holding surface cells together in order to reveal "fresh skin". AHAs can help to offload unwanted pigment collected by spending years in the sun (often without sun protection....baby oil on the beach in our 20's anyone?).
My favorite body wash is the Touch KP body wash with both glycolic and salicylic acid. The perfect first prep step in a morning body skincare routine.
An alternative to acids in your body wash is to look for them in your body lotion. I recommend choosing either glycolic or lactic
acid. Lactic is the good choice if you have extra dry skin because lactic acid is not only an exfoliator but also a humectant making it the perfect choice for extra dry skin (just like on our faces). A long time favorite of mine that I have not only used myself but recommended to countless people is Amlactin Daily- this particular version has 12% lactic acid in a simple formulation that just...works. This one is a bit harder to find in store but it is readily available on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2Ucyxl0
Glycolic Acid is another great choice for not only aiding in the clearance of dead skin cells but also encouraging collagen and elastin production at the same time. Glycolic acid is a good choice if you have normal or dry skin and you're trying to improve lines and wrinkles and gain more collagen. Glycolic acid works to improve photodamage while helping attract moisture to the skin and preventing the water loss (TEWL) that dehydrates and ages the skin.
Finding the lotion that feels, smells and gives the best results can be a little bit of a trial and error but it is SO worth it to improve the skin on our body. A fan favorite (and recommendation to me by my friends in my facebook group) is the Alpha Skincare glycolic lotion. With 12% glycolic acid and a PH of 4 this lotion is the perfect balance of potent and non-irritating. Find it here: https://amzn.to/2PWcnRm
Another favorite of mine Is the Touch KP exfoliating lotion. This lotion combines glycolic and salicylic like its body wash counterpart in the most silky, elegant lotion. I love how easily this lotion applies without leaving a sticky residue. Perfection! Find it here: https://amzn.to/39G9viD
In addition to the chemical exfoliation, occasional manual exfoliation can help the body skin to not only look better right away, but also encourage circulation resulting in healthier skin.
My favorite form is exfoliating gloves used on wet skin. Gentle circular motions is all it takes to get a good exfoliation and prep the skin for the next step. Remember though-this is meant to be a gentle massage...not an
I-have-poison-oak type frantic scrub. :) https://amzn.to/2Rc819p
Hydrate: Many AHA lotions will have moisturizing ingredients to deliver a one two punch of exfoliation and hydration simultaneously but if you need an extra dose look for the usual suspects in your body moisturizer: shea butter, hyaluronic acid, urea and glycerin to name a few. I love to buy hydrating sunscreens so that I get some moisture alongside my protection. Always look for SPF 25 or higher and do try to reapply to exposed areas (especially spots like
your driving arm!). A great hydrating sunscreen is the Aveeno Protect and Hydrate Moisturizing Sunscreen https://amzn.to/3sUwjmm
THE ROUTINE: PM
The most crucial anti-aging step is going to happen at night. This is when we are going to use a retinol body cream. Look for a lotion/cream with retinol in the top half of the deck and certainly above phenoxyethanol (if it's an ingredient in the mix) because remember: phenoxyethanol is a marker ingredient. In the US it is only allowed in concentrations of 1% or less and all things after it in the deck are equal to or less than 1%.
Just like using retinol on our face, using it on the body can lighten unwanted pigment, rejuvenate skin and encourage collagen production resulting in stronger, healthier skin. Often mistaken for cellulite, as we age skin on the body can use a little collagen stimulation to look less crepey and more firm (think arms and front of the thighs).
I really like the
Replenix Smoothing Body lotion- PACKED with barrier protecting ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, squalane and sodium PCA along with antioxidants like green tea and resveratrol.....and then of course the all important skin rejuvenating RETINOL. Rounding out this deck is caffeine (circulation boosting gem of an ingredient) and you have a powerhouse nighttime treatment...One and done with this nighttime body lotion!
TOOLS OF TRADE
I'm currently testing the NuBody device
which is the body option to NuFace microcurrent device. The more I use it the more I notice the skin on my arms becoming more firm.
The device uses microcurrent to smooth dimpling and texture. It will not necessarily "tone" the arms (or anywhere else you're using it) but rather firm the skin. I use it along with their hydrating primer and love the 'instantly supple' appearance I get with this device + primer.
I do about five minutes per arm at night
while I watch TV or YouTube. This "primer" uses hyaluronic acid, glycerin, tremella and betaine (4 powerhouse humectants) to hydrate the HECK out of the skin. It has been my favorite body moisturizer of the summer even when I am not doing a treatment. I love that you simply massage the remaining gel in to your skin-no washing it off....Easy! It is fragrance free so it never interferes with my perfume (which is another obsession I will have to share at some point).
I'll certainly report back with a full review after I have used the device a solid 3 months,
but so far I'm pleased with the device and thrilled with the gel primer.
LIPOSOMAL VITAMIN C
You may have heard me sing the praises of Liposomal C. It's an oral supplement that, among other things, helps with skin health. I am going to continue to shout this from the rooftops because in this day and age anti-oxidant protection for our immune system AND skin is paramount!
Vitamin C in liposomal form is the most effective way to ingest it-because the fragile vitamin is encapsulated in a liposome it is able to make it through the gauntlet that is our digestive tract, actually delivering much more of the vitamin than when taken in other forms.
From LivOn, "Why should I take Vitamin C for skin instead of applying it topically? Vitamin C is required to produce collagen, the protein that is responsible for firm skin. It exists in the middle layer of your skin that topical serums cannot reach. Taking oral Vitamin C also gives you so many of the added antioxidant and other health benefits that can contribute to health skin from within".
And because it's taken orally the results are shown throughout the face and body. To be clear...I advocate taking vitamin C AND using it in a topical :)).
Those in the UK can use this link: Altrient Vitamin C (European distributor for LiveOn) Use code PSMITH5 for discount)
As I mentioned above, sunscreen is incredibly important in your care routine. It is especially important when using retinoids and acids. Choose a sunscreen that you enjoy using and will reapply regularly to the areas of your body exposed to the sun. Please leave your recommendations for body sunscreen in the comments below so that we may all benefit from each other's experience!
Take care friends
Please stay safe.
Most importantly, be kind to each other. We all need it now more than ever.
P.S. If you'd like to learn about skin from a scientific perspective (without the beauty bit), join me in reading this book! https://amzn.to/3hnE9Ow
Share this site with your friends :))
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this website are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.
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