5 All-Over Hydration Hacks To Keep Skin Looking Supple & Plump Head To Toe
As someone with dry, sensitive skin, I'm constantly looking for ways to keep my skin plump and supple with moisture throughout the day. There's nothing I dread more than greeting myself in the mirror midday to be met with sallow skin, fine lines, and flakes. Luckily, I get to talk to loads of skin care experts who often share their skin hydration hacks—not to mention I've amassed a few myself over the years.
Here is how the pros keep their skin moisturized from morning till evening:
For hydrators, the texture can really make or break the experience. Some folks may want a spreadable formula for all-over coverage, while others like a dense cream that sinks in. As someone who uses and tries a lot of products, I find that formula experience for me is all about the use case.
Take, for example, body products. I actually like to switch up what I use depending on the time of year, how my skin feels, what I'm up to that day, and how much time I have to devote to my skin. That's why I like multi-moisturizing with my body care routine.
Remember when multi-masking took over the beauty world? It was a concept in which you'd apply multiple formulas to your face in order to target the skin's unique needs. Well, this is similar: I like to use different products depending on what a particular area needs.
For larger areas of the body—and areas that are harder to reach, like the back—I opt for spreadable lotions. But for areas that need extra attention, like my chest, dry legs, or back of my arms, I opt for a rich body cream. I also always have a dry body oil on hand to sweep over skin for a quick, easy glow. And I'm constantly carrying around a hand cream for areas that need regular replenishing, such as the hands and neck.
Loading up on antioxidants
When we talk about hydrating the skin, we often talk about ingredients like lipids and emollients. But an equally important thing to remember is to find moisturizers with antioxidants.
"People often ask how many antioxidants you should be using regularly; the answer is: the more the better," board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group told me about antioxidants. "The more you can help neutralize unstable molecules caused by free radical formation, the longer you can salvage the health of your cells and skin. There's really no limit to how much you can protect and repair your body!"
Not only can antioxidants help protect the skin from damage (and therefore improve the look of the skin), but they can improve the moisture retention of the skin long term. Since they help decrease inflammation1 and protect against barrier damage, they can help reduce the chances of transepidermal water loss. TEWL is the process by which water literally leaks out of the epidermis and into the air around you, resulting in parched, dry, irritated skin.
Choosing a lip balm that has these three things
You may think a good lip balm is simple—and while it should be effortless to use, the formula itself is often a bit complex. And some lip balms can even leave your skin drier than before. Most of us know the frustration of applying a formula only to have to reach for it moments later because the skin already feels parched.
A good lip balm should keep your lips hydrated for hours (although some reapplication throughout the day is normal—especially if you're drinking hot liquids, eating spicy food, or exposed to dry air). In order to keep lips hydrated, it should contain humectants, occlusives, and emollients.
How does this combo work so well? Humectants pull in water, emollients help support the barrier and mend any cracks in the skin, and occlusives create a protective seal on top. That's a perfect combo for a hydrated pout.
While there are many ingredients that can be safely used on the lip area, here are a few of our favorites to keep an eye out for. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and castor oil can make for excellent humectants. Options like moringa seed, ceramides, coconut oil, and honey can act as emollients. And shea butter, cocoa butter, and sunflower seed wax are ideal occlusive ingredients.
Celebrity esthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar once shared with us one of her favorite rituals to care for dry skin: Applying body oil before and after a shower—something we call shower sandwiching.
The after part is likely more familiar to folks, but the before? "This oil barrier prevents excessive water loss and helps with any irritation," she notes. Prolonged hot water exposure can dissolve your body's natural lipid barrier—which makes it more susceptible to dryness, irritation, and microcracks in the barrier. But by layering on a protective shield of oil beforehand, your skin is further buffered against the potentially damaging effects of a hot shower.
After you're finished, reapply that body oil over slightly damp skin so you can trap all that lingering water inside and nourish the skin barrier. "You can feel and see the difference in your skin by doing this magical ritual," Aguilar says.
Supporting skin hydration from the inside out isn't just about increasing your water intake—it's actually about making sure you're eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Eating for your skin can mean that your body has the tools it needs to produce barrier-building proteins and lipids, like collagen, elastin, ceramides, fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, and squalane.
It's best to focus on eating a variety of foods, which can ensure you're getting plenty of diverse nutrients, but a few to focus on: foods with amino acids (like lentils, chicken, and eggs), fatty acids (olive oil, almonds, and avocado), and antioxidants (berries, dark leafy greens, and other vegetables).
There are several ways you can take care of your skin health and optimize hydration. These are a few of our favorite expert-backed ideas, but for more intel on keeping skin supple, check out our guide to glowing skin.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.