If you haven’t happened upon the realization yet, you will eventually: body skin ages much like the face, with spotting, sagging and wrinkling emerging after years of sun exposure, and the effects of gravity and lifestyle all taking a toll. (We know, such fun, right?) And because of its physiology, body skin is more difficult to treat than your face.
“The outer covering, or stratum corneum, is thicker on your body, so topical treatments can’t easily penetrate to reverse aging,” explains Anne Chapas, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. “Body skin also has fewer oil glands, so it recovers slower and dries more easily following procedures.” Add the fact that there’s so much more surface area to treat, and even treatments you’d otherwise use with great results on your face can be cost prohibitive to apply to the body.
Luckily, in terms of what really works, making a noticeable difference is still within reach. “I believe the single best ingredient that is cost effective is a high-strength glycolic acid, with a concentration of 10 to 15 percent,” says Chicago dermatologist, Amy Taub, M.D. With consistent use, you can expect smoother, brighter skin stimulated by increased collagen production—but don’t expect dark sun freckles or wrinkling to change significantly.
Another effective—and cheap!—strategy is to moisturize generously, daily. “Skin with higher water content always looks younger than dry skin,” says Chapas. Look for body lotions that contain shea butter, lactic acid, urea, glycerin and ceramides for the most hydrating results. And while it’s been said before and isn’t the most exciting advice, it remains true that the best prevention is to wear an SPF 30+ sunscreen on exposed skin every day. “Compare the skin on your arms with the skin on your bum—that’s the difference sun protection makes,” says Washington, D.C. dermatologist, Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D.
If you’re open to the pricey yet effective options offered at the dermatologist’s office, the horizon has never looked so youthful. For body wrinkles, sun spots and loose, crepey skin, Fraxel Restore Dual is showing the most promising results of today’s lasers, according to both Chapas and Tanzi. “Multiple treatments are required, but people who start now can have younger-looking skin by summer,” says Chapas. And if it’s laxity right above the knee that’s bothering you, the Thermage laser—more commonly used to tighten the face and neck—shows particular effectiveness in this area, says Taub.
Cellulite can be a frustrating body issue that intensifies with age, and procedures offered at spas and dermatology offices have notoriously produced minimal results at maximum cost and time. However, Taub says she considers the Apollo, a new radiofrequency device, a “second generation cellulite treatment with better results in fewer sessions, and no discomfort.” We’ll take an order of that, please.
Eucerin’s Professional Repair is packed with ceramides, glycerin and shea butter, as well as urea – an ingredient that effectively treats those stubborn white bumps known as keratosis pilaris that can appear on upper arms, thighs and cheeks, says YouBeauty dermatology expert, Dr. Amy Wechsler.
Your greatest weapon against aging is sunscreen, but many formulas feel sticky and have a beachy smell. Ocean Potion’s Wetskin Tech Sunscreen absorbs to a smooth feel, is fragrance-free and features medical polymer technology for water and sweat resistance. Vitamin D fortification is an extra bonus.
Skinfo Soft & Smooth Body Lotion contains a high 15 percent glycolic acid concentration, making it an ideal way to soften rough surface layers. Since this is a costlier body lotion than most, you may want to reserve it for a certain area that needs the extra exfoliating love—like elbows, knees, feet, or the back of thighs and arms.
Harvested from a tree fungus found in the Swiss Alps, luminaze is a natural enzyme that breaks down pigment-causing melanin, an effect seen in the lightening of tree bark that encounters the fungus. In a double-blind clinical study, dark spots improved by 29 percent after 31 days of use, in comparison to popular yet controversial hydroquinone’s 15 percent improvement. To apply the treatment, you pump cream from the left side and apply, and then repeat with the right side.
Lathering with soap and washing is often the time when our skin experiences its greatest moisture loss, but Aveeno’s Positive Nourishing Body Wash is enriched with shea butter and natural fig, which hydrate while cleansing and provide antioxidant benefits.
Cane + Austin
Developed by New York dermatologist, Dr. Craig Austin, these body pads contain 10 percent glycolic acid for a targeted exfoliation and re-texturizing of skin that is stimulated by collagen growth. Vitamins A, C and E as well as COQ10 in a liposomal delivery system increase the efficacy and results.
If you’re looking for a natural anti-aging option, Dr. Haushcka’s Neck and Décolleté Cream uses eight plant oils (including argan and macadamia nut), field horsetail, birch leaves and red clover as a super antioxidant blend that deeply quenches dry skin and replenishes cell renewal.
Yes to Blueberries
Blueberries are one of nature’s most antioxidant-rich fruits, replete with vitamin C and anthocyanins that protect against free radical damage of the skin. Grapeseed, sunflower and tamanu seed oils—all naturally high in the fatty acids needed to support healthy and hydrated cells—join the blend in this rejuvenating body lotion.
Save counter space (and bucks) with this all-in-one tube that treats symptoms of aging on the face and body. Undiluted glycolic acid brings younger cells to the surface, while kinetin growth factor stimulates fibroblasts to produce more elastin and collagen. Green tea and rice phytic acid neutralize environmental damage, and hydrating glycerin keeps this gentle enough to use on the face.
When a soap is triple-milled, like this pomegranate pick by Archipelago, it has been grated and pressed together three times to remove air and moisture, making for a better lather and longer-lasting soap. White tea, cranberry and chamomile add antioxidant powers, while shea butter, glycerin and mango butter replace skin-firming moisture that is lost as we age.
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