The Ultimate Body Care Routine for Your Softest, Most Supple Skin Yet

May 08, 2024
Writer Lauren Levinson
By: Lauren Levinson | by L'Oréal
Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Chances are good that you have a dedicated skincare routine that you follow morning and night. But if you only extend that same level of care to your body during your weekly everything shower, you could be missing a huge opportunity to support your skin’s overall health and appearance. Maintaining a consistent body care routine can help keep your skin hydrated, smooth, and youthful-looking (plus, giving your skin a little TLC is a great way to unwind after a long day).

If you’re not sure how to curate a body care routine that suits your needs, keep reading. Here, we’re sharing everything you need to know about taking care of the skin below your neck, plus dishing on our favorite body care products to add to your lineup.

What Are the Basics of Body Care?

Generally, your body care routine should follow the same basic steps as your facial skincare routine (cleanse, moisturize, protect), but with some slight tweaks. For one, you’ll want to use products designed for the skin below your neck, which tends to be thicker than the skin on your face. How often you follow certain steps may differ, too. (For example, because body skin is thicker than facial skin, it can often handle more frequent exfoliation).

If it seems daunting to do anything other than quickly slather on body lotion once a day, let us remind you that body care is a form of self-care. Find products you love applying, tools that are easy to use, and make it into a habit-stacking routine (listen to a podcast or play soothing music while you go through your body care steps).

Try This Body Care Routine for Smooth, Healthy-Looking Skin

The best body care routine should cleanse, nourish, and protect your skin while addressing concerns like dryness or roughness. Ahead, we’ve put together a nine-step full body skincare routine that checks all of the boxes—and then some.

Step 1. Dry brush

Dry brushing involves literally brushing your skin with a nubby, stiff-bristled brush. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the practice gently exfoliates the skin and can help promote a glowier appearance. When done correctly (e.g., not too harshly) dry brushing should feel relaxing and stimulating. If it feels rough, you can apply a bit of oil or lotion onto your skin to give the brush some slip. Try Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil, a vanilla-and-almond scented, lightweight oil that absorbs quickly. Learn more about how to dry brush and tools to try here.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 2. Thoroughly cleanse

The next body care step is one you’re almost certainly familiar with: soaping up. We recommend setting your shower to lukewarm, rather than hot, and choosing a body cleanser suitable for your skin type and concerns. For example, if you have sensitive skin, consider opting for a fragrance-free cleanser. We like CeraVe Soothing Body Wash, which features a gentle blend of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and omega oils.

You can also opt for a body cleanser suitable for all skin types, such as Youth to the People Superfood + Niacinamide Body Cleanser. The niacinamide-infused gel formula cleanses without stripping the skin and helps it appear smoother and clearer over time. Plus, it boasts an incredible uplifting fragrance that features notes of fresh greens, cedarwood, and black pepper.

Whichever body wash you choose, we recommend using a clean, soft washcloth to massage the formula over your skin from the neck down.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 3. Exfoliate

It’s just as important to remove dead skin from your body as it is from your face. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), you can either exfoliate mechanically with a scrub or tool (hello dry brush!) or a chemical formula (in other words, something with acids). Most in-shower exfoliation is done with a body scrub, and it can be a wonderful sensorial experience.

Get the best of both worlds with the Youth to the People AHA + Yerba Mate Smoothing Energy Scrub, as it features both physical and chemical exfoliants. The finely milled, creamy polish has powerful alpha-hydroxy acids mixed with upcycled olive seed powder to buff away dead skin. Note that you may not need to exfoliate every day. Start with once or twice per week and adjust the frequency depending on how your skin looks and feels.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 4. Shave

After exfoliating is the perfect time to remove any unwanted body hair. Some tips for getting your closest shave yet: glide the razor in the direction that the hair grows, rinse it with water in between strokes, and use a shaving cream or gel to avoid irritating the skin. We love Kiehl's Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Blue Eagle, which boasts a gentle, fragrance-free formula suitable for all skin types.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 5. Apply body serum

Once you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry with a fluffy towel, and grab your body serum. Like face serums, body serums can help target certain skin concerns, such as dryness, dark spots, or dullness, but you’ll want to choose a formula designed for your specific needs.

If you’re looking to target age-related concerns, try the SkinCeuticals Body Tightening Concentrate, a cooling fluid meant for areas like the stomach, derrière, thighs, and upper arms. It features a trifecta of acids—salicylic, glycolic, and lactic—and helps promote smoother, firmer-looking skin. Or, consider a retinol serum specifically created for the body. The Shani Darden Body Transformation Serum contains 2% retinol, as well as vitamin C, and helps make body skin appear brighter, firmer, and smoother.

For those looking to help plump the skin or boost hydration, we suggest opting for a formula with hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Vitamin C body serums are worth looking into, as well—they can be particularly beneficial for those looking to brighten the skin.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 6. Moisturize

Finally, it’s time for the main event in your body care routine: hydration. As you probably know, there are tons of different types of moisturizers to choose from. As with the rest of the body care products in your routine, you’ll do best with a formula designed for your skin type.

If you have dry skin, opt for a thicker, richer cream or body butter, such as Youth to The People Superberry Firm + Glow Dream Body Butter. The nourishing formula contains jojoba oil, shea butter, and cupaçu butter and provides up to 48 hours of hydration for glowy, silky-feeling skin. Or, indulge yourself with the Aēsop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm, a splurge-worthy option designed specifically for parched skin.

Those seeking a lighter moisturizer may fare well with a lotion, such as the Garnier Ultimate Blends Restoring Body Lotion. For something a bit creamier but still quick to absorb, try the classic Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Body Lotion (which has been around since the 1980s!). The fragrance-free pick is enhanced with skin-softening cocoa butter, squalene, and shea butter. The CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion is another fragrance-free option that’s suitable for sensitive skin, even those with eczema.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 7. Smooth on a neck cream

Don’t forget to show your neck some love. This area is often forgotten when it comes to skin care, despite often being home to unique concerns (ahem, “tech neck”). While you can use a face cream on your neck, we suggest looking for a product designed for this oft-forgotten area. Try the SkinBetter Science Techno Neck Perfecting Cream to help tighten and hydrate the skin on the neck and décolleté. (For an extra luxe experience, roll the IT Cosmetics Neck Citrine Roller over your neck to help massage the moisturizer in.)

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 8. Address dry spots

Once you’re lotioned up from head to (almost) toes, it’s time to “detail” your body. Some areas, such as your elbows and knees, may be especially vulnerable to dryness and roughness. You can use a targeted balm, such as La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5, to help nourish these drier spots. This therapeutic formula helps create a protective barrier to hydrate and protect dry, cracked skin.

Now is also the chance to give your hands and feet some TLC. When it comes to hand cream, something portable is ideal—you can stash it in your bag and reapply it to hydrate your hands throughout the day. We love Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve for dry, chapped hands, while the Aēsop Ressurection Aromatique Hand Balm is the perfect pick for those looking for something hydrating and indulgent (it smells incredible).

Then, apply your foot cream (followed by cozy socks, if it's nighttime) to help lock in moisture. CeraVe Healing Ointment is a great pick for dry feet, as it locks in moisture and helps soothe dry, cracked skin.

Follow This Body Care Routine for Soft, Smooth Skin

Step 9. Smooth on sunscreen

Whether or not you’re doing your body care routine in the morning, you should always apply sunscreen before heading out the door during the daytime (even if it’s cloudy). The AAD advises opting for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and applying it every two hours or after sweating or swimming. It’s also a good idea to seek shade during midday and wear protective clothing to help shield your skin from the sun when possible.

Next Up: How to Get Healthier Skin in 2024

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