Here at Byrdie HQ, we think the idea of a “perfect body” is as outdated as snake-oil diet pills and spandex-clad workout icons. But that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about our bodies—the opposite, in fact. We’re all about body acceptance 24/7/365, but this week, we’re serving up some extra love: Meet Byrdie Body Week. Consider it a love letter to the weird and wonderful vehicles we inhabit, as well as a deep dive into all the body questions that plague us (such as Will my laptop really fry my ovaries?). We’ll also be spotlighting all that’s new in the product world (fake nipples—yeah, we’re going there). Let’s all agree to be a little kinder to our bodies this week (and month and year), no?
We diligently wash our faces, pat on toner, moisturize, and occasionally do a peel or sheet mask. But when it comes to our bodies—and I may be speaking for myself here—we don't give nearly as much love to the other 95% of our skin. For me, laziness is a key player here, but the reality is that, like the skin on our faces, the skin on our bodies experiences a decrease in collagen and elastin, photo-aging, and wrinkles. Clearly, not giving it proper care and hydration is doing ourselves a huge disservice, so aside from sometimes just slapping on a bit of body lotion, let's learn how to make our bodies as ageless as we aim to make our faces, shall we?
To get started, we asked four top estheticians for their body care rituals. Ahead, their best tips.
Kerry Benjamin, L.A. esthetician and founder of Stacked Skincare
"My skin is severely dry, and I deal with eczema, so I created the Stacked Skincare TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel to combat both of these conditions. My skin can't handle harsh scrubs, and the only way to combat dryness is to remove the dead skin so that my moisturizer can work. Peels are the best way to do this. Our Body Peel is gentle yet exfoliates much deeper than a scrub, and it's loaded with lactic acid to hydrate my skin. It also has salicylic acid to calm inflammation from eczema.
"I use the peel twice a week after showering. I don't apply any lotion the days I apply the peel because I want the peel to penetrate deeply in order to maximize the effectiveness. The next day, after I shower, I'll pile on a heavy moisturizer. I typically use Eucerin.
"When I shave, I don't use any soap or cream; I just use the razor over wet skin. I find this helps get rid of a lot of the dead skin. Because the peel is speeding up my cell turnover, I can slough it off with the razor. Using a cream or soap won't really get that dead skin off, sort of the same principle as dermaplaning. Sometimes, if I'm super dry in the winter, I will use the razor on totally dry skin—I do this very gently and carefully, and then I'll pile on heavy moisturizer. In the winter, I also use avocado oil after I get out of the shower, and then use a heavy cream like Eucerin.
"I use the peel all over my body twice a week, and then I shave usually twice a week too. The peel helps remove dead skin, hydrate, calm inflammation, and kill bacteria. Killing bacteria and reducing inflammation is key for eczema-prone skin, as we are more likely to get infections because we scratch our skin and leave open wounds. The shaving then sloughs off the dead skin from the peel.
"For me, it's all about exfoliation to remove the dead skin and then piling on oil and heavy lotion to replenish my dry skin. It's a cycle: peel, shave, moisturize—and it works!"
Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician
"Sleep—it does the body good. I am a strong believer that getting a good night's rest is imperative not only for regenerating the skin but also to rest the brain and body from being so overworked during the day. I'm someone who performs at my best when I get a full eight hours of sleep at night. When I wake, in addition to my skincare routine, my body care routine is essential to start my day off right. Here are all the products that help to get me looking and feeling my best to face the world:
"Rituals Hammam Delight Fresh Eucalyptus & Rosemary Foaming Shower Gel: I first learned of this while staying at a friend's house in Amsterdam. It has this wonderful mousse-like texture, and the minty-fresh scent is intoxicating and makes my shower smell like a Turkish hammam, hence the name.
"Renée Rouleau Smoothing Body Serum: The mistake most people make when it comes to getting silky-smooth and moist skin on their body is to load up with heavy lotions and oils, but the truth is, you won't get very far if you still have dry, expired cells left on the skin. To ensure that my skin stays supple and bump-free, I use one of my newest launches, Renée Rouleau Smoothing Body Serum, twice a week as a chemical exfoliator to dissolve these dead cells. I massage a thin coat to my skin, and after letting the serum absorb into my skin for just about a minute, I then follow up with a body lotion to give intensive hydration and nourishment to the fresh, newly revealed cells.
Using this serum continuously helps me to reveal the smoother skin on my body.
"Malin + Goetz Peppermint Body Scrub: It's important to remove dead cells from the skin by using both chemical exfoliants and physical/manual exfoliants. In addition to my body serum, I use this product as a physical exfoliator once a week. This scrub has a good concentration of scrubbing beads suspended in a gel base with the added benefit of peppermint to wake up my skin. I step away from the shower head and massage a fairly large amount over my full body for two minutes then step back under the water to rinse it off.
My skin feels incredibly smooth when I get out of the shower."
Lora Condon, celebrity esthetician and founder of Beauty Buster
"Pre-shower is of course about lifestyle, and nothing is better for your skin than water and alkaline food. Drink 64 ounces of water a day (and more if you are sweating or exercising). Every cell in our bodies needs sufficient amounts of water to function properly. No water means lower functioning cells and increased aging. Alkaline foods and sometimes even the removal of gluten and dairy will give the skin a healthy glow and decrease redness, breakouts, and inflammation in the skin.
"During the shower, I recommend not taking very hot showers because this dehydrates the skin and ages it as well. For best results, use a very gentle body wash. Liquids tend to be gentler than soaps because the ingredients that keep soap together can be too harsh for the skin. A sanitized body brush or wash cloth is great to help remove the dead skin and prep it for moisturizing. A glycolic wash is perfect on the backs of the arms if you tend to get dead cuticle buildup in that area.
"Once you've gently cleansed the skin and rinsed, pat-dry only, and then apply a body butter or body oil. By leaving some water on the skin, the body butter or oil will help to occlude the water and penetrate it into the skin for double smoothing results. If you're short on time, just do a lukewarm rinse in the shower at night, and lube up so by morning, your skin will be silky-smooth."
Heather Wilson, lead esthetician and brand development director at InstaNatural
"Once a week, I create a simple body scrub by mixing equal parts of organic raw sugar with InstaNatural Fractionated Coconut Oil and massage it onto dry skin, concentrating on troubled areas. Once I've thoroughly exfoliated, I hop in the shower and use a tea tree body wash which has been a godsend for my keratosis pilaris. After the shower, on slightly damp skin, I always apply rose hip seed oil, which I love because it is a dry oil, so it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave my skin greasy. It is also naturally rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin C, which means my body is benefiting from the same ingredients we know and love for the skin on our face."
Quotes have been edited for content.
Next up, take a look at how estheticians apply their facial products.