Unless you have a particular skin condition, like eczema, you probably fall into the usual camp of your body skin being normal in warmer weather and drier in winter. Just like you would choose certain textures and ingredients depending on your facial skin, follow suit here. NATCH Essentials Natural Body Cleanse is a pleasure to use. Containing hydrating superhero glycerin, and avoiding ingredients that can be harsh or drying, like SLS, it leaves the skin feeling soft. Its essential oils give it a lovely uplifting scent, especially enjoyable in a morning shower, though without any discernible scent lingering to clash with your perfume. If your skin is on the drier side, Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil lives up to its name. With a soft, soothing ‘skincare’ scent, it feels luxurious to use, rich without being too greasy or slippery. Afterwards, it doesn’t leave an annoying layer or film and skin feels both comforted and comfortable.
Just as you may follow facial cleansing by applying a special cream to the delicate skin around the eyes, using a product especially targeted for the sensitive skin on the neck and chest is a sensible second step in your body care routine. (There are less oil glands in this area than on the face or the rest of the body, and it is prone to sun damage as well as showing signs of everything from daily movement to how we sleep, so it’s a needy area and one many of us neglect entirely). If you want to treat it, in every sense of the word, La Mer has a gorgeous option in its The Neck and Décolleté Concentrate, a gel-moisturiser hybrid with a fresh green scent. It must be said that this product has some of the most stunning, ‘the future is now’ packaging I have ever come across, housed in a heavy glass tub inlaid with gleaming chrome, and a matching chrome lid. An ever-so-soft brush, with matching chrome handle, thanks very much, helps you to use the appropriate amount of product, and adds to the sensorial experience of application. I found the brush fibres don’t hold onto excess product, so it doesn’t lead to wastage, though it is a little extra treat to brush the remnants onto your hands. So is it worth the La Mer price tag? In order to make applying a product to this special area of your body a pleasure and a ritual, yes. No topical cream can entirely decimate deep lines or neck bands, but I have seen reductions in the lines in my décolleté that have formed over time (and from being a side sleeper with a larger cup size) and my neck skin looks softer, smoother and more pampered. If you can afford it, go forth. If not, or if you don’t feel the need to do this special extra step, as some people choose not to use a dedicated eye cream, let’s move on to the next step in the routine.
You can’t get to smooth, glowing skin without sloughing off the dead, dry upper layer first. You’ve probably heard so many of us beauty writers admonish you for using physical scrubs on your face by now that you’ve ditched them for a chemical exfoliant (aka an acid), but physical scrubs still have a very useful place on your much hardier body skin. The best body scrubs combine the benefits of both, incorporating tiny physical particles along with alpha hydroxy acids, so you’re getting twice the smoothing bang for your effort-of-application buck. First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHAs is designed to improve keratosis pilaris (charmingly also known as chicken skin), the red bumps that commonly form on upper arms. It’s a finely textured, pale grey, sandy scrub that is excellent for the more sensitive skin on the upper body, which you never want to over exfoliate and leave red or sensitised. The particles in Leif’s Caviar Lime Body Scrub are grittier, and suspended in a thick, soothing gel with the most gorgeous zingy-yet-relaxing citrus fragrance. It works well applied all over the body, though I got the most out of it applied to my very driest parts, like the sides of my hips and the backs of my thighs. This is a workhorse and spa treatment in one, and hands down the best scrub I’ve ever used.
Now that you’ve sloughed away the old coating, if you will, it’s time to boost hydration levels in that freshly revealed new skin with a serum. The vast array of available facial serums includes some with excellent extra cosmetic benefits, and your body is no longer left out of this thanks to Isle of Paradise’s Body Hyglo Self-Tan Serum. It left my pale skin a lovely, realistic colour and it also looked and felt noticeably hydrated thanks to the serum’s inclusion of glycerin, hyaluronic acid and plant oils. One gripe: I appreciate that the dropper-style packaging highlights that this product is a serum versus just being another fake tan lotion, but I found it time consuming to cover my whole body in the product using a dropper method and would much prefer it be housed in a pump pack.
This is the choose-your-own-adventure part, according to what your skin needs on any particular day. Like with your facial routine, I’d recommend ideally having at least two moisturising products you can rotate between, one to reach for in the warmer weather, when you’re oilier, or for during the day, and a more nourishing one like you’d choose for night time, winter or if you’re naturally dry.
An easy to use, lighter option is Paula’s Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA (which, again, I’d love to see in a pump pack for ease of use). While it does include salicylic acid, I didn’t notice any remarkable difference in the smoothness of my skin from only my first use, which I bring up as a positive: it’s designed for daily use, so all but the very sensitive shouldn’t find it too much to use in that way, or even after your proper exfoliating step. It’s a good mid-weight texture, falling as it does between a lotion and cream, sinks in quickly and is fragrance free.
One step up the richness scale is The Sculptor from BeautyBio, which has a luxurious floral scent to match its creamy, elegant feel. It’s designed to specifically target cellulite, but I put very little hold in any topical cream doing that (cellulite is hereditary, affects the majority of women, and the sooner we all accept it as a fact of life, the better). However this doesn’t mean it isn’t an indulgent, lovely body cream that will and does make skin feel almost powdery soft, and surely we can all agree no matter where on the body it is, well-tended, moisturised skin looks and feels its best.
If you prefer an even more buttery texture, you’re in luck, as Frank Body’s Perky Sculpting Body Hydrator is so thick you could stand a spoon up in it, and wins my award for cutest packaging. Harking back to the brand’s famous coffee scrub, this cream comes housed in a reusable white coffee cup complete with the cheeky outline of a pert tushy engraved in its pastel coral lid. Further emphasising the coffee connection is the completely moreish coffee ice cream scent, and I say moreish as someone who is not a gourmand sort of girl. It isn’t overpowering or overly sweet and doesn’t linger. Such a thick texture does mean it takes a while to sink in, meaning that it’s more suited to night time use rather than when you have to jump into a pair of jeans and get out the door. In fact, the brand recommends leaving it for a while to sink in rather than trying to rub it in, so it’s best left for a bathroom session when you have a bit of time and patience. Which for me sounds annoying but was ultimately worthwhile, as it leaves skin noticeably glowing.
Facial oils have taken us all by storm in recent years, but they still largely evoke concepts of lavender and market stalls when you think of them for the body. Not so with these new finds.
If you’re after something with a thicker, richer texture for your very driest parts, Kokosfell’s Koko Balm is a coconut oil-based concoction packaged in a hefty, matte black pot you can just about dive (well, scoop your fingers) into. Packed full of superhero oils including argan and avocado, this is a weighty treat in terms of how it feels in your hand and the nourishment it gives, but it doesn’t sit on the skin or feel heavy or sticky.
If you’re only wanting to dip your toe into the idea of oil and feel more comfortable with something altogether lighter, Arithmos is banishing old fashioned ideas of oils starting with their chic opaque white glass packaging. Then there’s the fragrances – available in three blends, my pick was Uplift, the entirely transporting jasmine and neroli, which, happily, lives up to its name. As with any oil-based product, I wouldn’t douse myself in it before dressing in white silk, but it really isn’t greasy and thanks to its skin-loving fusion of oils including jojoba, rosehip and vitamin E, leaves skin looking, feeling and smelling utterly divine. And a final note – if you still can’t bring yourself to get into the full body skincare routine idea, you have my permission to add a few drops of this to a hot bath, which is not only a delightfully decadent way to enjoy a night in, but will still leave you with skin that’s been taken care of, no effort required.