Even if the last months have been comparatively mild in New York, winter still brings the inevitable — and inevitably rough — red and itchy dry skin. Generally we tackle it with a swipe of moisturizer on the hands and face, or a dab of dandruff shampoo on the scalp, but many of us skip adding extra hydration to the rest of the body.
“People tell me they don’t have time,” said Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in Manhattan, “but I actually timed myself once. It takes 60 to 90 seconds, which everyone has.”
More than mere indulgences, body moisturizers are indispensable for combating what Dr. Wechsler calls the “double whammy” of cold air outdoors and indoor heat. This winter, happily, there are some brand-new ones with surprising textures and, often, ingredients that offer more than simple hydration.
Last month, for example, RéVive, which is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, introduced Supérieur Body Nightly Renewing Serum and Supérieur Body Renewal Firming Cream. Both are formulated for use below the face and neck.
“Even though skin looks like skin looks like skin, it physiologically behaves very differently,” said Gregory Bays Brown, the RéVive founder. Dr. Brown explained that the body is not as equipped for self-moisturization as the face because it has fewer of the sweat glands, sebaceous glands and hair follicles that the face has to renew itself.
Besides moisturizers like glycerin, the RéVive products include lactic and glycolic acid, which help slough off the dead skin that can build up in the winter, and niacinamide to help even out skin tone. The serum has a light, milky texture, and some customers may wonder why they need to use it underneath moisturizer.
“It’s a little bit like gesso-ing the skin,” Dr. Brown said, referring to the primer artists apply to a canvas before paint. “It keys it up for the cream. If they use the two together, they’re going to get the most benefit.”
Still, serum for the body, as for the face, is an optional addition. “It’s really just a ‘need’ thing,” said Dr. Wechsler, who advises Chanel on its skin-care line. “If your body moisturizer isn’t enough, then feel free to try an extra layer.”
The UMA Absolute Anti Aging Body Balm, which arrives at Neiman Marcus later this month, also offers intense hydration; its ingredients include ghee and moringa oil. The texture, which is like an ointment, is well suited to knees, elbows and heels, which can get particularly dry. A companion body scrub helps exfoliate with, among other ingredients, cane sugar and Himalayan sea salt.
African Botanics, a line from South Africa, recently released a pair of products that similarly slough, then moisturize: Café Noir Body Exfoliant, which gently scrubs with ground coffee beans, and Jardin Sauvage Wild Garden Botanical Body Cream, a pleasantly thick product that’s made with shea butter and has a rosy scent.
Ouai Body Crème, which has a goopy consistency that’s a bit reminiscent of Yoplait, contains hydrators like coconut oil and squalene. When it was introduced a few months ago, it sold out on the Ouai site in a week, the company said. Ouai recently added a gentle body cleanser that’s made with moisturizing jojoba seed and rose hip oils.
The Renewal Body Oil Balm from La Mer, which was introduced in January, squeezes out of the tube as a gel, only to become a slick oil on the body. Some may find it a bit slippery, but it leaves skin feeling noticeably supple.
Predictably, the La Mer price is high. It hovers around $200, as do the RéVive products.
There are, of course, more affordable options, sometimes from unlikely sources. Dr. Wechsler often points her patients toward the grocery aisle for safflower oil, which is similar to linoleic acid, a fatty acid in the skin, and can be applied topically. A one-liter bottle costs about $6 and should last your several winters.