Slathering the body with the same skin-care products designed for the face is a bad idea, experts say.
Separate skin care products for the body and face exist for good reason, according to dermatologist Lauren Fine, MD, of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology in Illinois. “Facial skin can be much more sensitive than body skin. It contains more oils glands and different types of vasculature,” Fine said. “Facial skin is also much thinner than skin on the body, such as on the back, thighs, and torso. However, skin on areas such as the neck and forearms can also be quite thin, similar to facial skin, but with fewer oil glands.”
As a result, skin-care products for the body and face are formulated differently. “[Although] advanced body creams and lotions may include some of the same active ingredients as products for the face, the ingredients are often used in different combinations and concentrations,” said dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger, MD, president of skin care retailer LovelySkin.com and CEO of Schlessinger MD. “Most importantly, body creams target different concerns than face creams. Body creams often target crepey skin; cellulite; stretch marks; dry, flaky skin; or spider veins. Face treatments often address things like discoloration, wrinkles, large pores, and acne.”
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Until recent years, body creams were little more than moisturizers, said dermatologic surgeon Suneel Chilukuri, MD, director of Cosmetic Surgery at Refresh Dermatology in Houston, Texas. Now OTC products address specific areas and concerns, said Chilukuri, who studied DefenAge’s newly released 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream (Progenitor Biologics).
“DefenAge’s body cream utilizes defensins to activate the LGR6+ stem cells located at the base of the hair follicles, activating fibroblasts to produce collagen and elastin,” Chilukuri said. “In addition, it contains niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory molecule. Another unique ingredient it contains is sea whip, which also is anti-inflammatory. When [these ingredients are] combined with niacinamide, we’re finding that patients are starting to see results [in] as early as 7 to 10 days, and by 2 weeks, there can be a pretty significant change.”
Chilukuri conducted a split arm study and noted less skin crepiness after 2 weeks of use when women applied the hand and body cream to their inner arms. “We use DefenAge in our practice because currently, it is scientifically best in class, especially for arms, legs, elbows, and knees,” Chilukuri said. “Aesthetic clinicians can pair 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream with modalities in the office, such as microneedling [with or without] radiofrequency, for even better results. If you are going to pair it with microneedling or radiofrequency microneedling, I suggest that the patient be on this body cream for at least 3 to 4 weeks before-hand to prep the skin for optimal results.”
A common skin concern among older patients is bruising, and the right skincare regimen can help, according to Schlessinger. “With the increased utilization of blood thinners at earlier ages and baby aspirin every day, and more and more people over a certain age, we see traumatic purpura more frequently,” he said.
Schlessinger recommends DerMend Moisturizing Bruise Formula Cream (Ferndale Pharma Group/Biopelle). “There are products for bruising [with] a postprocedural benefit, but when it comes to wide-scale and repeated bruising and skin thinning, I think that this one stands out,” he said.
For addressing crepiness, Schlessinger likes Revision Skincare BodiFirm, which he described as a complementary product to support results of in-office body-contouring treatments. The lotion combines caffeine with proven ingredients such as peptides, antioxidants, and a prebiotic to help support the dermoepidermal junction. “Since skin on the body is thicker and can be rougher, this product also uses glucosamine to provide exfoliation benefits for smoother, softer skin,” Schlessinger said.
Aesthetic body skin concerns among patients with skin of color include thick, dark skin on the elbows and knees; hyperpigmentation in the bikini area; and sagging skin in the upper arms and thighs, according to dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, medical director of Skin Wellness Dermatology and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, both in Birmingham, as well as a member of the Skin of Color Society board of directors.
The novel pigment corrector, Cyspera (cysteamine; Scientis) addresses discoloration without hydroquinone, according to Hartman: “Not only does it lighten dark spots, but it [also] provides a more even skin tone with no halo hyperpigmentation or the need to be specific about the application of the cream only on the dark spots.”
Hartman also recommends Alastin Skincare Transform Body Treatment, which he said reduces the appearance of crepey skin anywhere on the body, including the arms, legs, and abdomen.
Miami, Florida, dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, owner of Skin Type Solutions, said she often recommends Zerafite (Neopharm) body cream to patients who have dry skin or atopic dermatitis. Zerafite features Multi-Lamellar Emulsion technology, which mimics the skin’s natural barrier, offering protection from allergens, irritants, and dehydration, according to Baumann.
“Zerafite...is the best body cream, in my opinion, for dry skin and eczema. It does not have petrolatum like CeraVe and Cetaphil [Galderma] do, and customers are wanting cleaner products,” she said.
Look for botanicals for firming, antioxidants, and peptides for collagen stimulation, as well as caffeine, an ingredient that helps lipocytes release triglycerides, advised New Orleans, Louisiana, dermatologist Mary P. Lupo, MD. “Often, [body creams] will contain at least 1 ingredient to address fat—for example, products contain something to facilitate cellular flushing of fat,” she said.
Retinol often is a no-no for the body because it can cause irritation, according to Schlessinger. One exception: Replenix Retinol Smooth + Tighten Body Lotion. The product combines all-trans-retinol with the botanical extract edelweiss to provide tightening benefits to crepey-looking body skin, potentially without the irritation, he said.
Peptides and retinols are key to stimulatingnew collagen, which is important when addressing crepey skin, according to Lupo. Hartman encourages patients to use creams that include hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, to help smooth the skin’s surface and promote exfoliation for glowing skin.
“Peptides are a cofactor for collagen induction and help to keep skin firm and smooth,” he said. “Ceramides and squalene are great moisturizing agents that help to fortify the skin barrier, locking in hydration and preventing dryness and transepidermal water loss.”
“We as dermatologists have probably been a little remiss about discussing skin care with our patients because, frankly, we might not have believed [results] could happen,” Schlessinger said. He was among those who questioned skin care’s true value—until he conducted a study on NeoStrata Triple Firm- ing Neck Cream, which contains antioxidants and Neoglucosamine.
“At 12 weeks, we noticed dramatic differences in neck wrinkles and crepiness when patients used this simple cream. That experience informed me about the possibility to reverse ongoing damage without dramatic surgical intervention,” Schlessinger said.
The key for measurable improvement, Lupo said, is to start with body creams early; use them consistently; and, when possible, complement with devices.
Skin care alone does not optimally address skin crepiness, according to Fine. “I prefer to use a combination of lasers or energy-based devices [and] injections of biostimulatory fillers...in addition to skin-care products to best address crepiness. And sun protection is key,” she said