For many of us, it takes going to the beach to remind us of our body skin health, and that it also needs sunscreen. Skincare beauty routines worldwide has us layering 10 products on our face every morning and night, while our body receives an off-hand lotion application for most seasons, without (gasp) the necessary sunscreen. But for that glowing, smooth and healthy skin to help you best pull off your sleeveless and skirt looks, you need to create a dedicated body routine that caters to your skin's needs.
Dr Jyothish George, specialist dermatologist at Prime Hospital, says, “Just like the face it is also very important to moisturise the body and also protect the skin from excessive sun exposure using sunscreens.
“Skin on the body also can develop sunburns, pigmentation, skin cancers due to excessive sun exposure. Also, adequate moisturising will prevent skin dryness and hence skin infections and aging.”
Skin on the body also can develop sunburns, pigmentation, skin cancers due to excessive sun exposure.
Gulf News speaks to Dr George and Dr Suzana Borba Roncaglia, Brazilian board-certified specialist dermatologist at Abu Dhabi-based Sno Bodyworx, and Healthbay Clinic, Dubai, for the skincare routine you need to keep your skin healthy amidst the sun and sands.
Your complete body care routine
Step 1: Cleansing
The beginning of all things beauty is ensuring that the days’ products, sunscreen, dust and more are off your skin.
But, there is a limit – as overwashing and harsh-treatment can cause dry, itchy skin and eczemas. Dr George says, “Avoid frequent baths with harsh soaps, and frequent exfoliating with harsh soaps. Always test a product on a small area especially when using it for the first time.”
Avoid frequent baths with harsh soaps, and frequent exfoliating with harsh soaps.
In the UAE, don’t we all love a refreshing morning shower to prep us for the day’s work, and a warm one at night to relax, especially if you were outdoors, before sleep? But if your shower elongates into a half an hour indulgent experience, complete with steam and ambient music, it’s time to rethink as your skin may take the brunt of it – drying out.
The trick is to spend less time in the shower, and stay away from hot water. Dr Roncaglia says, “Replace soap with a gentle wash and have quicker showers with mildly warm water.” That way, you can have your necessary two showers without harming your skin, provided of course – that you carry out the next step – hydration.
Step 2: Hydration
If it hadn’t been taught as essential from an early age, you might have omitted daily body cream after showers for years.
For me personally, it was reading a Friday article perhaps in 2014, home for a holiday when studying in Rajasthan, India, that kick-started my own body moisturising routine. The writer spoke about devotedly moisturising their skin from the age of 13 – and suddenly I was conscious – I was older, had no serious body skincare routine to speak of and certainly did not want cracked skin from not moisturising since the age of 13.
After some research for pared-down moisturisers, I used a local recipe of one part glycerine and four parts rosewater mixed in a dispenser bottle, which, layered with body butter during the winters did the job well.
Basic steps for full body skin routine is the use of moisturizers daily after shower on the whole body and sunscreen on sun exposed areas before going outdoors.
Hydration is fundamental to the healthy skin you wish for – reducing extreme dryness and oiliness, which can lead to other skin problems. It is especially important right after showers as your body oils are washed off, not to mention the incoming winter months.
Dr Roncaglia says, “Basic steps for full body skin routine is the use of moisturizers daily after shower on the whole body and sunscreen on sun exposed areas before going outdoors.”
Dr George adds, “A skincare routine would also include regular and adequate hydration and nutritious food intake.“
Some of today’s myriad hydration options include:
- Body butter: Thick creams that deeply moisturise. They usually include natural butters such as shea or cocoa butter.
- Body yoghurt: Lightweight moisturisers that quickly absorb into your skin, and is long-lasting.
- Body oil: Moisturising oils for the body.
- Body cream: Thick formulas that have around a 50-50 ratio of oil and water, and is lighter than butters.
- Body lotion: A very lightweight moisturiser, with a higher ratio of water to oil, and no greasy residue.
To avoid tech neck, chalky elbows and more, slather these on liberally after a shower depending on the weather, and your skin requirements for your best body care routine. During humid summers, lighter formulas such as body lotions can work well – especially if your skin is not overly dry, and colder, windier times require more intensely hydrating creams.
If you’ve undergone a particularly harsh outdoors day, perhaps dunked in saltwater and sun at the beach – you can even opt for luxuriating in a sheet mask for the body. What’s that, you ask? Face sheet masks actually also have options for hands, feet, neck and even belly skin during pregnancy.
To offset this, keep a hand cream on your work desk or next to your handwash in your bathroom. Keep an extra one in your bag or purse when outside, and take a few seconds to apply every time you wash your hands.
According to the study, it is important to let your hand sanitisers dry before applying hand cream, and don’t wash your hands before or just after sanitiser application as this can cause them to penetrate deeper into your skin.
Step 3: To exfoliate or not to exfoliate?
Navigating this can be a bit tricky. While body exfoliation is often touted online as the ultimate secret to smooth, glowing skin, in reality it depends on a number of factors – such as your skin type, how often you shower and the weather. And unlike colder parts of the world, twice a day showers with cleansing soap are the norm in the UAE.
Dr Roncaglia says, “As a dermatologist, I can never recommend exfoliating the body.
“It removes the outer layer of the skin, which works as a protection, leaving the skin more prone to environmental damage. Our outer layer naturally sheds after they finish their life cycle being replaced by new cells (keratinocytes).”
As a dermatologist, I can never recommend exfoliating the body. It removes the outer layer of the skin which works as a protection, leaving the skin more prone to environmental damage.
Moroever, if you have regular hair removal practices such as shaving and waxing in your routine, that can also count as exfoliation – and you wouldn’t want to overdo it, as that can cause dryness and irritation from compromised skin barriers, says Dr George.
If you are interested in trying it, especially if you notice buildup on skin, begin with using a loofah, brush or body scrub once a week, perhaps before a shave, to see how your skin reacts. If you see any sensitivity, dryness or irritation, stop usage. Dr George recommends a maximum of two TO three times a week for healthy skin.
If you have skin with breakouts, sensitive, fragile or thin skin, do not exfoliate – consult a dermatologist as chemical exfoliants may be recommended in some cases.
Step 4: What about hair removal?
The never-ending battle. Shaving gives unfairly short-lived results, waxing can be extremely painful and sooner or later, new hair will poke through and the ordeal repeats. Not to mention the risks of hot wax, cuts, ingrown hairs and more.
Dr Roncaglia says, “Shaving and waxing are both okay if they are not causing ingrown hairs. In some patients, they can cause a lot of ingrown hairs and subsequent folliculitis (pimples). Epecially waxing - in that case, avoid waxing, and instead shave or do laser for permanent hair removal.”
Shaving Dos and Don’ts
Shaving removes the hair follicle from the surface of the skin and leaves the root intact.
- Make sure you are using a sharp blade. Dr George says, “Dull blades can cause irritation and cuts.”
- Never shave dry, and choose shaving cream over soap. Dr George advises to use moisturising products during your shave if your skin is sensitive.
- You can shave your hair at any length.
- For a smooth shave, Dr George recommends waiting until the end of your shower or bath to shave, when pores are open and skin has softened.
- To prevent ingrown hairs, Dr Roncaglia recommends shaving on the same direction of hair growth. Dr George says, “One of the top shaving mistakes is shaving 'against the grain'.”
- Moisture well after your shave. Dr Roncaglia says, “Shaving can be done daily and long as done with proper care.”
Waxing Dos and Don’ts
Waxing pulls the hair out, including the root and results can last for a few weeks.
- “Removing female facial hair while using retinoid anti-aging or acne products can lead to abrasions, infections and even scarring, so be sure to do your homework before trying a wax,” says Dr George.
- “Your hair must be ½ to ¼ inch to be waxed,” says Dr George.
The bottom line? Dr George says, “It’s worth experimenting with both shaving and waxing to find out what method you prefer and maybe even look into laser hair removal.”
Your hair type, skin type and area that you’d like to remove hair from can affect your decision with regards to your hair removal practices. As long as you undertake proper care, moisturise and pay attention to your skin, it is up to your preference.
Step 5: SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
The step that crowns every skincare routine – SPF. Your body skin is just as vulnerable to skin damage as your facial skin and SPF is a must for all exposed areas of skin. If you are indoors but near a window, you would also need to reapply every couple of hours or so – read more here about all the ways you can protect your body skin from UV (ultraviolet) damage.
1. Is my body skin type the same as my face skin type?
With specifically tailored face routines that suit your oily, combination, dry or normal skin types, you might be wondering whether the skin on your body mirrors that of your face.
The simple answer is no, Dr Roncaglia says: “It varies but not as much as on the face.” The range includes normal skin and dry to very dry skin especially for those with a family history of eczema. With body skin actually, the main concern is having eczema or allergy-prone skin, also called atopic skin.
Dr Roncaglia adds: “They suffer more with environment hazards and should have extra care with their skin.”
2. Are some areas prone to dryness and require more care than others?
Dr Roncaglia says, “It varies with age. People with atopic skin have eczemas in different parts of the body according to the age group.
“In babies it tends to be on the cheeks, neck and trunk. In pre-schoolers it gets more intense on the creases - arm and knee folds. In adults it tends to be worse around the eyes, neck and forearms. But that’s not a rule and eczemas can appear all over the body if they are a more severe form.”