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In the past, body lotions and scrubs have been pretty basic. Hydrating (always), exfoliating (with various degrees of success), but for the most part, not exactly sophisticated or particularly active in their ingredients and formula. But with the rise of professional type at-home skincare products for the face (think at-home peels, powerful retinols, and potent peptide-rich formulas), it was only a matter of time before the products were designed for below the neck got a much-needed upgrade. After all, things like wrinkles, sagging, and dark spots aren't just regulated to our face. The new class of body creams, peels, and scrubs are packed with active ingredients to help your limbs look (and feel) as smooth as your complexion.
Below, you'll find a Byrdie-approved list of the best, most advanced body skincare products.
Best Overall: Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Lotion
Retinol for the body is a game-changer and you can trust that with Paula's no-nonsense approach to product formulation, this cream delivers skin-smoothing results. It's also packed with antioxidants and shea butter, and it promises to leave your skin feeling nourished. Use at night or in the daytime layered under SPF.
Best Cream: Augustinus Bader The Body Cream
Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Victoria Beckham loves the face version of this new body cream. This pick is made with the brand's proprietary complex TFC8, which contains amino acids and vitamins, along with other molecules like shea butter and aloe leaf. It promises to trigger the skin's stem cells to work as efficiently as possible for younger-looking skin in just a few weeks.
What Our Editors Say
"My limbs are perpetually dry, not to mention easily irritated, and this body cream made a huge difference—I couldn't believe how soft and silky my skin felt with zero irritation or itchiness." — Faith Xue, Former Byrdie Editorial Director
Best Mousse: Farmhouse Fresh Back to Youth Ageless Body Mousse
This 93% natural formula boasts gentle retinyl palmitate (a combination of retinol and palmitic acid), fatty acid-rich jojoba oil, and firming peptides. It's meant to smooth the skin with no irritation. It's ideal for the places on the body where fine lines can start to appear, like the chest, neck, knees, and backs of hands. It also comes with a small spoon, so you use just the right amount every time. It's ideal if you like the idea of a retinol body lotion, but your skin is a little more sensitive to active ingredients.
Best Scrub: Oskia Renaissance Body Scrub
We're obsessed with this chemical and mechanical exfoliator, which is enzyme-rich and densely-packed with Himalayan sea salt. It comes in a plastic-free jar with gorgeous illustrations by influencer and photographer Emma Hoareau, who worked with Oskia on bringing the product to life.
Best Peel: Pixi Glycolic Body Peel
Made with glycolic and lactic acids, you simply massage this peel into the skin, hop into the shower, then rinse off before applying your lotion or oil. Using this daily will gently lift away dead, dulling skin to reveal smoother, more radiant limbs in no time.
Best AHA: Ren AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum
This serum is another acid-rich product but, unlike the Pixi peel, should be left on the skin. It's packed with lactic acid and xylitol, and it promises to gently slough at the skin without stripping it. It smells like fresh citrus, softens rough, dry patches, and leaves the skin glowing.
Best Cleanser: Mio Clay Away Purifying Body Cleanser
Breakouts aren't just something that happens to our faces. This cleanser is rich in clay and witch hazel, and it promises to draw impurities out of the skin on our body and clarify pores. For any areas of real concern, you can leave this on for two minutes as a quick mask.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Lancer The Method: Body Nourish
This satisfying body scrub boasts 10% glycolic acid, marula oil, and shea butter. It's meant to tackle skin texture and discoloration while limiting any irritation. In other words, it will leave your skin soft and smooth.
We're giving top honors to Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Lotion since it's such a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants and shea butter alongside retinol, this lotion will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and moisturized. Have sensitive skin? You can't go wrong with Farmhouse Fresh Back to Youth Ageless Body Mousse (view at Walmart). It will give you firm, hydrated skin without any irritation.
What to Look for in Advanced Body Skincare Products
Actives that Target Your Skin Concerns
Pick a product that will address your specific concern, whether it is soothing sunburns, targeting fine lines and wrinkles, unclogging pores, or something else. Body products with retinol, peptides, and antioxidants may be great for targeting wrinkles, whereas products with AHAs promise to smooth texture and discoloration. When it comes to acne, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman recommends reaching for salicylic or glycolic acid, “since benzoyl peroxide [a popular treatment for facial acne] can bleach clothing if it's inadvertently left on the skin and comes in contact with clothing."
No matter what type of active body product you’re using, whether it’s to exfoliate and treat acne or target crepey or sagging skin, Dr. Hartman stresses the importance of choosing a formula that’s also hydrating. “Since the trunk lacks the oil glands that comprise the skin of the face, it’s important for a body product to also be moisturizing,” he says. “Contrary to conventional thinking, the back and chest are more likely to experience dryness and irritation than the face. The barrier is important to maintain in this area.”
From lotions to serums to peels to scrubs, there are a plethora of body products out there that will help you reach your skin goals. Lotions and serums are easy to incorporate into your daily and nightly routines, whereas peels and scrubs need to be washed away. Which type you buy will largely depend on what skin concern you're trying to address and how much effort you want to put into using them.
Dr. Hartman adds that a body product, no matter the formula, should be purchased in a large enough quantity to effectively cover the body one or two times daily and last you for some time. That said, opt for larger tubs, tubes, and bottles in order to deliver the active ingredients—and results—in a cost-effective manner.
How many times a day should you moisturize your body?
This is largely based on your skin's needs. Those with drier, flaky skin will need to moisturize their body more often than others. However, using a hydrating body lotion or serum twice a day is a good start. This will help keep your skin maintain hydration all day and prevent any dry skin from popping up. Pro tip: Apply your body product after the shower to really trap in moisture.
Are body serums better than body lotions?
This is largely up to personal preference. Body serums are generally more lightweight, absorb faster, and can hold a more potent blend of active ingredients than body lotions.
Can you use a body scrub or peel everyday?
Similar to the physical and chemical exfoliating products for your face, body scrubs and peels should be used in moderation to prevent over-exfoliation. As a general rule, it's best to start off using these products once a week and slowly build your way up to daily use.