While slathering on a smattering of serums to my face one evening, as per usual, I suddenly felt a pang of sadness for my body. Somehow, the complexion always steals the self-care spotlight, while the rest of the body gets forgotten. But skin doesn’t end at the décolletage. Despite knowing this common sense, I—and plenty of other people that I know, TBH—diligently treat the skin on the face and let the rest suffer in silence, not even applying a drop of moisturizer to parched (not to mention itchy) limbs. It’s quite silly, really.
At the same time, it makes sense why the bod gets the short end of the skin-care stick: “For much of the year, your limbs aren’t as frequently exposed as areas where you generally do focus your regular cosmetic attention,” says Keston Muijs, co-founder of Grown Alchemist. “These areas that are exposed on a daily basis—face, neck, hands, and décolletage—incidentally garner a greater level care as they’re the first areas to show signs of aging based on the continual exposure.”
Body care taking a back seat can also be the after-effects of beauty product marketing, which just so happens to emphasize your mug above all else. “From an industry perspective, body care has been overall an afterthought—it never comes first,” says Nick Axelrod, co-founder of brand-new body-care brand Nécessaire. “If brands aren’t saying that maybe you should care about your body like you do your face, why would we even think to do that? It’s a cultural thing that inspires that.”
The industry is shifting, though. Chic, body-focused beauty products are creeping into showers and beauty shelves, and they have smart, better-for-you ingredients, too. Take the recently launched Necessaire for example, which has a list of banned ingredients that they’ll never use and hopes to emphasize the importance of self-care for your entire being, which Axelrod says is a reverberation of the wellness industry at large. “If you’re doing SoulCycle and you’re into what you eat, into nature, all of those things, it’s a natural extension to focus on the skin of your body,” says Randi Christiansen, co-founder of Nécessaire. “Body lotion should be Crossfit for your skin—just like working out and doing all of those things makes you feel good, so too should caring about your body,” adds Axelrod.
So, in a phrase: “Body care is booming,” says Jeremy Muijs, co-founder of Grown Alchemist. The Australian brand has found success by formulating body care options for specific skin types and concerns, rather than slapping a label on one product to slather all over the body. “We believe this stems from consumer demand driving innovation and targeted formulations for specific body skin concerns. As a brand, body care is one of our best-performing categories, and more often than not, it acts as a gateway for our customers into skin care and hair care.”
And thankfully, treating the body like the face is becoming easier than ever: Gone are the days of body wash and body lotion being all that’s at hand. Today there are serums! masks! toners! peels! Just look at True Botanicals, which makes a body mask; Biologique Recherche with their cult-fave P50 toner in body form; and even Dove, whose light-as-air shower foam was game-changing this year (and IMO combines moisturizing and cleansing into one step).
“Historically it’s been body wash and body lotion on one aisle, sex products maybe six aisles down, shaving somewhere else, and face products in another aisle,” says Christiansen. “If you take a holistic approach to all the things you do with your body, all of those care products seep in—so it’s about elevating all of these essentials and giving them the attention they deserve.” Yes, it requires more time for TLC—but your skin’s your largest organ, and it deserves the love.
Body care must-haves
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