My name is Kara Jillian Brown, and I hate putting on body lotion. Typically, it’s something I do when I have to, like throwing some lotion on my arms and legs before I go outside while wearing a dress. But if I’m just chilling at home, chances are my legs are so ashy I could start a fire. I know this isn’t good for my skin, but since I’m in my 20s, I don’t really notice any long-term effects. As I get older, though, I know that my skin will get drier and drier, and having a moisture routine is key to having healthy, radiant skin.
Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist in her 50s even told me that one of her biggest skin-care regrets was not putting on enough lotion. “I wish that I had moisturized more when I was younger,” says Dr. Downie, who is a board-certified dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, and the founder of Image Dermatology. Dry skin is more susceptible to premature signs of aging and it’s less able to fight off infections and heal from injury.
“When we’re drying out that skin barrier, we’re more likely to have those little microscopic breaks in the skin barrier. So it’s less effective in terms of preventing infection,” says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pasadena, California. “That’s why sometimes we can get superficial infections from really dry skin.”
So I’ve been on a mission to make moisturizing my body a habit. Over the past three months, I’ve committed to three habits that help me keep my skin soft, strong, and hydrated. Spoiler: None of them involve traditional body lotion and they all happen in the shower. That’s because the second I get out of the shower and feel the cold air on my skin, the only thing I want to do is dry off and make a beeline into my fuzziest robe or under my comforter. When my body-moisturizing routine takes place in the warm steam of my shower, it’s easier for me to commit. Plus, lotions sink into damp skin better, so I’m getting even more hydration than I would if I let my skin fully air dry. Here’s how I moisturize my skin without lotion.
3 products that help me keep my body moisturized, ranked from easiest to most involved
1. Moisturizing spray
When I’m feeling particularly unmotivated, spritzing on a moisturizing spray is about all I can handle. I shut off the water, open the shower door for a second to grab my towel, dry off, and then spray the Hanni Water Balm ($34) all over. It’s super lightweight and packed with a cocktail of aloe leaf extract, red algae extract, glycerin, and low-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid to give your skin the hydration it needs. This spray gives me the nourishment I know my skin needs with very little effort but doesn’t leave my skin silky-shiny.
2. Body conditioner
Body conditioner is what I turn to on most days. My favorite is the Olay Nighttime Rinse-off Body Conditioner with Retinol ($6). You apply it like you would a body lotion except you do it while your skin is wet, let it sit for a minute, then rinse it off, and pat dry. It’s packed with vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, which is an antioxidant-rich vitamin that’s known for soothing the skin while preventing water loss and retaining the skin’s moisture content. Plus, it contains retinol—promoting cellular turnover on the skin and preventing dry and scaly skin.
3. Lotion bars
When I really feel like treating myself, I reach for a lotion bar after I towel off. These are solids that illuminate the tedium of pumping a lotion bottle. Instead, you rub the stone between your hands to warm it up and then have a never-ending “flow” of lotion to rub on your body. When I use a lotion bar, I like to take my time, really massaging the oils into my skin from my neck down. When I’m done, I’m as soft, slippery, and giddy as a baby seal. My all-time favorite lotion bar is the Kate McLeod Daily Stone ($38). It’s made with sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, and fractionated coconut and leaves my skin feeling extremely pampered. I also love the Superzero Ceramide + Squalane Tightening & Brightening Body Cream Bar ($48). It’s got bio-engineered ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier function, squalane to deeply moisturize and firm, along with reishi extract to even out skin tone.
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