Ask any woman about her skin care regimen and she’ll likely tell you all about her cleanser, exfoliator, toner, and moisturizer—for her face. But what about the rest of your skin? It is after all your largest organ and as such, deserves proper care and attention.
Deconstructing the Skin
The skin on your body varies depending on many factors. Some areas of your skin are thick and others are thin; some parts of your skin have more oil glands (also called sebaceous glands) than others; some areas have more hair follicles; and finally, some areas of your skin simply undergo more exposure to the elements. It’s important to understand the different types of skin on your body and treat them accordingly.
Thickness: The thickness of your skin varies throughout your body. Your thickest skin is on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet and is about four millimeters thick. In contrast, your thinnest skin is on your eyelids and beneath your eyes and is only about 0.5 millimeters thick. That’s why under-eye cream is so important!
Oil glands: Oil glands are heavily concentrated on the nose, neck, chest, and back. As such, these areas can be more prone to acne.
Exposure: Different parts of your skin experience more exposure to the sun, wind, cold, and other elements.
Skin Care Zones
Understanding the different types of skin on your body will help you to target your skin care to match the right zone. Thin skin requires delicate, protective moisturizers. Thick skin calls for thick, deeply penetrating moisturizers. Oily skin needs non-comedogenic moisturizers that will prevent build-up and congestion.
In general, you can break your skin-care regimen down by body part and then choose products according to your skin type and sensitivity.
Face: The skin on your face is thin and undergoes a lot of exposure and therefore requires special treatment. You’re probably accustomed to choosing facial care products that match your skin type (oily, dry, or normal). Regardless of skin type, it’s important to choose products that are hypoallergenic (to minimize allergic reactions) and non-comedogenic (to prevent congestion). Furthermore, the face is exposed to plenty of sunlight, so be sure to choose a moisturizer with SPF protection.
Eye area: The eye area differs from the rest of the face because the skin around the eyes is so thin. It’s important to use a specially designed eye cream below the eyes and on the eyelids in order to protect this most delicate area of skin.
Lips: The skin on your lips is thin, exposed, and dries out more quickly. Protect your lips with lip balm, day and night.
Hands: Your hands experience a double whammy—the skin is thick and it receives more exposure than any other area of your body. Your hands are exposed to cold, dry weather, wind, and lots of hand washing, all of which can leave the skin dry and cracked. Use a heavy duty, greasy moisturizer on your hands to trap moisture in. Use extra moisturizer at night so that your hands can absorb it while you sleep. Finally, protect your hands from the elements by wearing gloves whenever possible.
Feet: The skin on your feet is thick and requires a thick, deeply penetrating moisturizer. Often, your feet can become dry, cracked, and calloused, especially in summer if you’re going barefoot or wearing sandals. Use a pumice stone to slough off dead skin and then moisturize heavily at night.
Body: Depending on your skin type, the other parts of your body may not require specifically designed moisture treatments. Just remember that hot showers and soaps can quickly sap the skin of moisture. Find an all-around moisturizer that works for you and use it daily.