Even if you're fanatical about skin care, chances are there's a body part (or two) you're neglecting. After all, if you're obsessing over every tiny wrinkle that appears on your forehead, you probably don't have much time to dedicate to your dry knees.
However, those often-forgotten body parts are more important than you may realize — and it's not just about looking pretty. Your skin is your largest organ, and it's your first line of defense against disease and infection. Of course it's important to focus your anti-aging efforts on your face, but five minutes a day could make a huge difference for the rest of your body. After all, what appears to be a freckle on your hand could actually be melanoma.
So take a look at your arsenal of sunscreens, serums, and lotions and know that our skin care plan will have you rethinking how to use them. We're also recommending a few specialty products for you to pick up along the way. Trust us, your heels will thank you.
Neck and Chest
Anti-aging skin care shouldn't stop at your jawline. "I think people are good about their faces but they don't think about their bodies as much," says Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD. She suggests using the skin care products you use on your face on your neck and chest as well — simply get in the habit of cleansing and moisturizing those areas in the same way.
Since the skin on your neck is thinner than the skin on your face, it's more prone to volume loss and sagging. If you're willing to take the extra step, look for a cream specifically designed for the neck with ingredients like peptides to address the problem.
If you have dark spots, your hands might be giving away your age — even more so than your neck and chest. To treat hyperpigmentation, New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, says to look for products with alpha hydroxy acid. To prevent new spots from appearing or to keep the ones you already have from getting worse, wear sunscreen on your hands every day. Look for a hand cream that contains SPF 30 or higher.
If topical treatments aren't doing the trick, Peredo recommends the in-office treatment IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), which she says can lighten existing dark spots and keep new spots from surfacing.
Dry — even calloused — elbows are easy to forget. It's not like they were ever a pretty body part to begin with, right? However, elbows, like heels, are prone to cracking, so it's important to keep them well moisturized. Start by exfoliating in the shower with a loofah, says Baumann. Then, after you pat dry with a towel, massage in a few drops of oil like vitamin E, almond, or olive oil (Baumann's favorite), and seal it in with a layer of rich body lotion.
Back of the arms
If you're prone to red bumps on the backs of your arms — not-so-affectionately called "chicken skin" and medically referred to as keratosis pilaris — there is something you can do about it. Opt for a body lotion that contains lactic acid, which chemically exfoliates the skin, suggests dermatologist Zein Obagi MD. To keep the problem at bay, you'll have to use the lotion daily, but the results will be worth the effort.
The good news is that you're already exfoliating your legs regularly by shaving. However, depending on what you're shaving with, you may also be drying out your skin. Dermatologists say you can skip washing your lower extremities — the warm water and soapy run off (from sudsing the rest of your body) is enough to clean your legs. Then, when you get out of the shower, pat your legs dry and apply a body lotion or cream almost immediately — it will help lock in moisture. Focus on your knees if they're a trouble spot.
Backs of the legs
There are two unfortunate things that make this spot "special": dry, bumpy skin (similar to keratosis pilaris on the backs of the arms) and cellulite. If the area is extremely dry, choose a rich body cream that contains shea butter, which is an incredible natural moisturizer. If it's dry and bumpy, use a cream with lactic acid to speed up exfoliation.
If cellulite is your main concern, look for products that contain caffeine — it will give you an immediate tightening, says Baumann. Even though body products can't get rid of cellulite completely, your skin will appear smoother.
Aside from the occasional pedicure, we're almost all guilty of neglecting our feet. Fortunately, weekly at-home treatments can help turn them around quickly. Look for a special foot lotion that contains alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, or urea — all of which exfoliate really well. Let the lotion absorb for at least 10 minutes before rubbing away dead skin with a warm washcloth or pumice stone.
For an intensive moisturizing treatment, apply a rich cream and put on cotton socks before bed, suggests celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi.