Skincare 101: Why you should never neglect your body care, Lifestyle News

Andrew M. Santos

Many women tend to follow elaborate, multi-step facial skincare routines inspired by South Korean beauty regimes. The opposite, however, can be said for our bodies, which we often left neglect – and this results in issues such as dryness, cellulite, and even wrinkles.

“The skin on the body deserves as much attention – if not more – than the face. At the spa, we notice that many women neglect areas such as back, hands, feet, elbows and knees, as well as areas that undergo regular hair removal such as the underarms,” says Sioux Lees, director of spa and wellness at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

“While skin conditions can be caused by internal factors, there are regular treatments or products we can incorporate into our routines to improve their condition.”

Unlike facial skin, which tends to be thinner, the skin on our bodies varies from area to area, which requires customising products or treatments depending on your concerns. Experts agree that the area most women tend to ignore when it comes to body care is the neck and décolleté (from the neck down to the chest).

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“This area shows visible signs of ageing quicker than the face because the skin is more reactive and there are less sebaceous glands present. I always tell my clients to apply their face products, be it a moisturiser or serum, from the nipples up, every day. You don’t need to buy a different cream, just make sure you cover the entire area,” says celebrity facialist Joanna Czech.

Further down the body is another hotspot that requires extra care – the back. Here, the skin tends to be oilier than other areas, making it prone to blackheads and acne.

Women should invest in tools and products such as an exfoliating salt or a sugar scrub – the idea is to choose a product with a coarse texture – and a long-handle loofah to target this hard-to-reach area.

“The back tends to get a little oilier than the body because when you exercise, you perspire all over the shoulders. Exposure to products such as shampoo can also lead to blocked pores,” says Lee.

“At the spa, we offer back facials, but at home I like to suggest women start off with a body soak in Epsom salts, which helps remineralise and cleanse the skin. If you don’t have a bathtub, go straight to the next step – an all-over body scrub, paying particular attention to rougher areas such as the elbows and knees. I advise women do this once a week, depending on your skin’s condition.”

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Dry brushing is another regular body ritual that can benefit the body, and involves taking a dry natural-bristle brush and rubbing it across the skin using upwards strokes towards the heart. This is said to stimulate the body, improve circulation and target cellulite, while removing top layers of dead skin, which allows products to be absorbed more easily.

For those who have extremely sensitive skin or prefer not to use such rough scrubs, enzymatic peels featuring natural ingredients such as pumpkin or pineapple are another alternative, and can be applied to the skin for 10 to 15 minutes, before washing the product off. Many products are designed to be used daily, although you may need to wait a little longer to see the results.

Other areas that women need to pay particular attention to include the feet, elbows and the underarms – a spot which may undergo frequent hair removal.

“Many people struggle with irritation, rashes and lumps. A plain aloe vera gel after you shave or wax will [soothe] the skin. Elbows and feet tend to be rough and are prone to darker pigmentation, probably because of neglect. I suggest women choose a balm formula which penetrates the skin well,” says Sue Harmsworth, a wellness consultant and founder of Espa, a spa line.

Lees also suggests treating areas such as the hands and feet with ingredients such as shea butter or oils like coconut, which can target dry cuticles and rough skin. Covering the feet and hands with a pair of socks or gloves after application can help hold in moisture longer.

While creating a regular body care routine can improve the skin, choosing the right products and formulations is also essential.

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“People don’t understand the difference between serums, oils and moisturisers and think they are interchangeable. Oils are like a treatment and work on the condition of the skin. For them to be effective, they need to be high quality. Never apply them on dry skin – only on damp skin.

“Serums – which have become more popular – are feeders, and contain no water, making them super concentrated, so they penetrate deeply into the skin. A moisturiser is designed to hold moisture in.

“Rather than choose the thickest cream, it’s about choosing a formula containing ingredients that are designed to protect the skin and hold in moisture such as hyaluronic acid. As a rule, anytime you bathe or treat the skin, you should moisturise afterwards,” says Harmsworth.

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As a final word of advice, she also suggests women be more mindful of the ingredients in their products and use the right application techniques. This can make a huge difference when it comes to the product’s efficacy and long-term results.

“Right now, brands are creating new products that claim to multitask, but the key factor is to read the ingredients and understand their purpose. For example, if you have dry skin, avoid any products containing detergents or too many chemicals.

Women also tend to overdo things and over-cleanse – for example, we should only exfoliate dry areas not oily areas, which should be targeted using other methods. Less is more, as long as the products you are using are high quality,” she says.

Products to add to your body care routine

Body Brush by Shaquda from Net-a-Porter

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This body brush is made from a combination of silky goat hair and synthetic bristles which exfoliate and cleanse the body. Its extra-long wooden handles make it easy to use to target tricky areas like the back.

Tree of Life Balm by Elemental Herbology from the Mandarin Oriental Spa, Hong Kong

Ideal for dry and inflamed skin, this multipurpose balm contains nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, rosa canina fruit and calendula. 

Oils such as macadamia, sweet almond and argan also help to improve the skin’s appearance and elasticity.

Gold Lust All Over Oil by Oribe from Joyce Beauty

This multipurpose formula contains a mix of 17 nourishing oils rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, including meadowfoam seed and blackcurrant seed oils, to hydrate cuticles and dry skin patches.

True Ionised Cleansing Water from Buly 1803

Natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as silver, gold, zinc and chlorophyll purify and heal the skin, making this cleanser and toner ideal for treating spots or blackheads on areas of the body as well as the face.

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Rose Sea Polish by French Girl at Lane Crawford

Made using organic ingredients including wildcrafted essential oils, this scrub uses both Himalayan salt and sugar granules to exfoliate the skin, while shea, mango and cocoa butters hydrate and moisturise.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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