AHA Body Lotion Is the Secret Weapon Your Skin Needs If It’s Bumpy or Dull

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On the first bare-legged day of the season, it can be tempting to reach for your most aggressive scrub in order to slough away the dead, dry skin that's been dulling down your complexion for the better part of the winter months. But while exfoliating with walnut shells, sugar, and salt can certainly be an effective way to smooth your skin, according to Dendy Engleman, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, that's actually not the best way to prep your complexion for all the shorts and sundresses in your future. Instead, she suggests using a barrier-building alpha-hydroxy acid body lotion to get the job done.

Experts In This Article

AHAs—like glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid—are a chemical exfoliant that work to gently melt away dead skin cells. They help diminish the appearance of sunspots and skin discoloration, un-clog your pores and prevent acne, and even stimulate collagen to diminish fine lines and wrinkles. On their own, they bring about a whole slew of skin-boosting benefits (you'll often find serums infused with them as an evening routine staple), but according to Dr. Engleman, they're even better when they're paired with the hydrating and barrier-supporting ingredients that you usually find in your standard body lotions.

"If you're looking to smooth your skin, you could throw on a very high concentration of AHAs and you'll be guaranteed to have smoother skin, but if you're not providing support [from hydrating ingredients] as well, it will be compromised and more susceptible to damage," says Dr. Engleman. "Even if your skin doesn't have the same intense hydration needs this time of year as it does when it's 20 below zero, you still need to hydrate and provide support to your skin barrier in order to fortify this."  To do this, she suggests looking for AHA body lotions that pair chemical exfoliants with ceramides, which serve as the building blocks of your skin barrier, and squalane, which is known as the "big gulp of moisture" for your skin.

Keep scrolling for five products that check all of these boxes, and will help prep your skin for sunshiny days ahead.

Shop AHA body lotions

REN Clean Skincare AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum — $42.00

This AHA body lotion pairs gently-exfoliating lactic acid with barrier-enhancing ingredients like xylitol and probiotic extract. In addition to helping get rid of dead skin cells, it also helps to stimulate the generation of new, healthy ones, leaving you with stronger and smoother skin overall.

DERMAdoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Therapy for Dry, Rough, Bumpy Skin — $38.00

This lotion has got it all. It has dead-cell melting AHAs, beta-hydroxy acids, and poly-hydroxy acids, plus ceramides and soothing botanicals so that even the most sensitive skin feels hydrated and replenished after every use.

Lord Jones Bump + Smooth CBD Body Serum — $60.00

Specifically designed to fight bumpy skin, this CBD-infused AHA body lotion has both exfoliating and calming properties (plus a whole lot of hydrating ceramides and squalane). “We know that these acids in high concentrations are quite strong and could cause damage, so you want to give the antidote to the potential inflammation that could cause,” says Dr. Engleman. “With this stuff, you’re going to get the smoothing component, but you’re also going to get something that’s non-irritating.”

Paula's Choice Skin Revealing Body Lotion 10% AHA — $28.00

Thanks to a 10 percent concentration of AHAs, this lotion helps to unclog pores, diminish the appearance of bumpy skin, and soften your complexion. It also happens to be packed with antioxidants, which will protect your skin from environmental stressors (just be sure to apply SPF on top for maximum support against the sun).

Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen Body Mylk — $60.00

Made with lactic acid—the gentlest member of the AHA family—this lotion works to resurface skin without causing irritation. In addition to its exfoliating prowess, it’s also got collagen-stimulating alguronic acid, which provides anti-aging and anti-wrinkle benefits to help fight crepey complexions.

Sol de Janeiro Bom Dia Bright Body Cream — $45.00

The fruit-derived AHAs in this particular lotion offer brightening and skin-enhancing effects, and the addition of vitamin C gives it an added layer of antioxidant protection. It’s also got ultra-nourishing cupaçu butter, which infuses skin with fatty acids to help lock in moisture and prevent dehydration.

For even more exfoliation advice, straight from a derm, check out the video below. 

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