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Skin Care Experts Agree: Do This One Thing & Defy Wintry Skin Once & For All

Person hands applying oil to skin
Image by Martí Sans / Stocksy
November 25, 2020

You know skin care doesn't stop at your chin—and in a perfect world, your body care routine would feel as second-nature as washing your face—but oftentimes it just doesn't happen. You become tired, busy, and life gets in the way—we get it! The skin on your body is generally thicker and more durable than that of your face, too, so you might not even notice it's screaming for moisture until it's itchy, flaky, and perennially dry. 

If this sounds like you, may we suggest adding a body serum to your regimen? Don't groan just yet: Yes, it's an extra step in your skin care routine (sorry!), but it's one that truly goes the extra mile—especially during the winter. 

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How body serums help dry, wintry skin. 

Just like the serums you'd slather on your face, body serums are your treatment step. These come loaded with active ingredients, like antioxidants and peptides, at high concentrations that penetrate deep into the skin's layers. That said, they yield more targeted results than even the butteriest of body creams. As celebrity esthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar puts it, "Using a moisturizer alone simply coats and hydrates your skin. Serums contain the ingredients that actually do the work."  

While you can use them year-round, Aguilar notes it's best to apply them in drier months with less sun—which is, well, right now. Find a serum with moisturizing ingredients (like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides, and nourishing oils) and you can plump your skin with hydration and combat the effects of transepidermal water loss. Or, snag a serum with gentle exfoliants—like glycolic and lactic acid—that Aguilar recommends avoiding in the summer (read: Acids can increase the chance of burns and sun damage) but are perfect for buffing away itchy flakes. 

How to add a body serum into your routine. 

Grab your serum du jour (peek our selects, below), and proceed:

  1. While you can use them morning or night (doesn't matter!), it's best to apply a body serum post-shower. "The best time is within three minutes after bathing to help trap moisture in while the skin is still a little damp," says board-certified aesthetic and surgical dermatologist Naissan O. Wesley, M.D., FACMS. (Although, if your serum contains finicky vitamin C, you might want to wait until your skin has fully dried.) 
  2. Aguilar suggests a warm shower to open up the skin's absorption channels: "Hot water can strip your skin of essential hydration and cause irritation, making your serum work harder (or not very well), and cold water constricts blood flow and tightens skin, which is really nice, but it can also lessen the absorption of serum." 
  3. After applying your body serum, you'll always want to follow up with an occlusive—that is, moisturizer or oil—to lock in all those active ingredients. Again, it's similar to applying a serum on your face: You wouldn't want to lose all those hydrating, nourishing ingredients to the dry air, would you? 
  4. We should note: If you're using a serum with AHAs, you might not want to do any shaving beforehand, as you may face some irritation. Also make sure to wear sunscreen on any exposed skin—remember, exfoliating acids make your skin more susceptible to burns and sun damage.
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The takeaway. 

Body serums are a holy grail product for dry, scaly skin. Hydrating formulas provide your skin with a cushion of moisture, while exfoliating serums gently slough flakes. Choose your own adventure here, seek our product recs below, and ace winter skin care. 

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