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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

Glowing Skin From Head to Toe

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By Karen Bruno
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Want softer skin that looks as good as it feels? It starts with how you clean and moisturize your whole body, not just your face.

If your routine has been the same-old, same-old for a while, it might be time to shake things up and see what your options are.


Moisturizing Body Cleansers and Scrubs

Cleansing with bar soaps is still the most popular way to wash the body. But most bar soaps are made with sodium lauryl sulfate, which strips away natural oils from the skin.

Now, though, there are soaps that moisturize your skin as you wash. These soaps and cleansers work by using ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which helps skin hold onto water. Some soaps and cleansers have ingredients called sustained-release ceramides to help keep the skin moist. Some cleansers also contain crushed diamond powder to make your skin feel silky.

Since men tend to have thicker, oilier skin, some body cleansers made for men produce more lather and are less moisturizing than women's or unisex versions.


A New Look at Body Polishing

Body polishing isn't new. For years, women have used exfoliating scrubs, but a lot of people are just now discovering their benefits. That may be in part due to the expanding variety of body-polishing products that are available.

Before skin can grow new cells, dead cells need to be removed. Body polishers use grainy or chemical exfoliants to slough off dead skin cells. The grainy exfoliants, such as sea salt or sugar, are mixed with a vegetable oil that keeps the skin moist.


Body Moisturizing Creams and Lotions

Both men and women get dry skin and could benefit from body moisturizing creams or lotions. You can use moisturizers and creams made for the face on your neck and chest.

A moisturizing cream or lotion made for use on the body is best to treat dry, rough skin, especially in winter when skin on your legs, arms, and torso may become drier and itchy. If you're not sure what's best for your skin, ask a dermatologist.

Ceramides may help. They are often found in cleansers and moisturizers.

Body moisturizers are now multi-purpose. They combine moisturizers and alpha hydroxy acids to slough off dead skin cells to improve the skin's glow. Some creams and moisturizers also provide broad-spectrum sunscreen protection. They guard against both UVA and UVB rays and offer an effective two-for-one punch, since tanning dries out the skin.

Expensive body creams may smell better, look richer, and contain exotic ingredients, but most drugstore brands work just as well, if not better, in treating and preventing dry skin. Many have been formulated to be non-greasy. Some have ingredients that target dry, flakey skin. Creams designed for dry skin lock in moisture with ingredients such as shea butter and dimethicone.

Reviewed on November 02, 2012
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