The 1975's thundering 2013 single "The City" is one my favorite songs of all time for lots of reasons, but, most relevantly, for the lyric, "Get in the shower if it all goes wrong." It's a line I think about quite a bit because of how perfectly it describes my relationship with showering.
Let me explain: When I'm sad, I hop in the shower. When I'm frustrated, I hop in the shower. When I need a rage cry, I hop in the shower—and wash my tears down the drain. But lately, showering life's frustrations away hasn't been so easy. These past few months, I've fallen into what can best be described as a dark, empty hole that not even a little liquid courage could fix.
These feelings have been... a lot to grapple with, and so I've been doing just that courtesy of some great sessions with my therapist. It has also made me realize how crucial taking care of physical self is to my mental health. And while it's easy to remember to do self-care in the form of face masks and serums, I found that I was often forgetting about the fact that skin care doesn't end at the neck. As I started to take better care of myself, I realized a full-body care regimen, instead of just one for my face, could be the positive element of crawling my way out of my rut. And so I enlisted the help Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, board-certified dermatologist and Specific Beauty founder, to help me get rolling with a new routine, and also to find out why people neglect body care.
"Most people tend to focus on the face because it’s constantly exposed to the sun whereas your body isn’t," she tells me:
However, the skin on your body should be cared for just as much—there are sun-exposed areas on the body that many people forget to protect. As people age, the hands, arms, and legs can develop dark spots and crepe-y skin which can be prevented with effective sun protection. Many of my older patients often complain of brown spots on their arms and hands which is caused by years of chronic sun exposure in these areas. Many even stop wearing short-sleeved shirts because it makes them feel self-conscious.
She notes that, no matter what a person's skin type or tone is, they should opt for sulfate-free body cleansers as they don't strip skin of its natural oils. "It is best to avoid long, hot showers," she adds. "Right after the shower, just pat dry—don't rub vigorously to dry your skin. Then, when the skin is still slightly moist, one of the most important things you should do is apply a body oil or moisturizer to help lock in the moisture. This step is so important and often missed when showering."
She adds those with oily skin should avoid occlusive moisturizers, like petrolatum which may increase oiliness, and, instead, choose humectant-based moisturizers with glycerin. Those with dry skin should avoid intense exfoliators or over-exfoliating, as well as harsh bar soaps, and stick to gentle skin care products. People with acne-prone skin should stay away from heavy moisturizers and opt for a lightweight ceramide-based moisturizer; "Studies show that ceramide-based moisturizers actually improve outcomes when combined with acne treatments," Woolery-Lloyd says. Those with darker skin should avoid over-exfoliation, which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and people with sensitive skin should be sure to avoid products with excessive fragrance as they can cause inflammation and, instead, choose hydrating products with ceramides that help restore the skin's natural protective barrier.
And as for Dr. Woolery-Lloyd's own body care routine? "I have dry skin, so I use shea butter every day after the shower to lock in moisture and keep my skin hydrated," she reveals. "I also use Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash to help keep my skin hydrated. After applying my facial sunscreen SB Active Radiance Day Moisture SPF 30, I always apply the extra to my hands to prevent future sun spots."
Click through the gallery, below, to see what editors from Essence, NYLON, and Vice are using for their body care routines.