I am often asked about what moisturisers people should be using on their body to keep their skin hydrated and in good condition. The skin on the body seems to be more of an afterthought for people, especially when compared to how much attention is paid to the face/neck/decolletage. This might be because it is less often visible to ourselves and to others. The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is quite fitting in this situation!
Why should I moisturise my body?
Skin on the body has a number of needs, and in some ways differs from the face:
- The skin on the palms and soles is thicker and often needs more moisture in order to penetrate adequately
- The skin on the body is subject to friction from clothing and effects of pressure. Building a good skin barrier through moisturising can protect against damage
- The skin on the body is subject to the some of the same stressors as the face – e.g. temperature change, water quality, UV exposure, so requires care and attention to equip the skin to repair and rehydrate.
How often should I moisturise my body?
I advise moisturising the body in general after washing/showering and then targeted moisturising for dry areas daily (e.g. the hands, heels). The skin on the body, if left to its natural devices, and with some body hair left in place, is actually well equipped to protect itself, but as a lot of the natural protective factors are removed (by washing, hair removal etc.), it can lose moisture quickly.
What ingredients should I look for?
Humectants reduce moisture loss in the skin by attracting and bonding with water molecules (from the surrounding environment), hence increasing the capacity of the skin to retain moisture. Ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are examples of humectants.
Occlusives reduce water loss by the skin by forming a physical barrier, they also stop irritants from entering the skin by the same barrier mechanism. Lanolin, oils and white soft paraffin are examples of occlusive.
Try products with Vitamin B as this also improves the skin barrier.
Urea-containing moisturisers are especially useful at softening skin in areas prone to hardness (e.g. soles, elbows).
Itchy skin can benefit from moisturisers with added menthol to give coolness.