What's A Body Conditioner & How Does It Differ From Your Usual Cleansing Products?

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With conditioner, every day is a good hair day. This post-shampoo step is necessary for enhancing the texture and feel of the hair. Packed with nourishing ingredients, conditioner is effective in moisturizing hair strands, softening the hair and lending it a luscious sheen. Obviously, our hair needs a conditioner, but what about our body? Is there a conditioner for the body?


As far as body skincare goes, our options are typically limited to body scrubs, body cleansers, and body lotions. We have body scrubs to slough away skin cells, body cleansers to scour the body of dirt and oils, and body lotions to moisturize the skin. Body conditioners are not a familiar concept to many of us. But well, they do exist — and they're not just a placeholder. They feed the skin the same way conditioners nourish the hair, and the advantages they offer the body are unique. Check out why you should start incorporating a body conditioner into your post-body wash routine to stay soft and radiant every day. 

Body conditioner and how to use it

"A body conditioner protects the skin the same way conditioners protect your hair," dermatologist Dr. Richard Bottiglione tells Coveteur. "It applies a thin layer of oil to coat the top layer of the skin so that the skin does not have a dry feeling when getting out of the shower." 


A hot bath with harsh body soaps can strip your skin of its essential oils, making it vulnerable to itchiness and an eczema flare-up. A body conditioner — loaded with a host of skin-loving ingredients such as coconut oil, argan oil, and shea butter — replenishes the moisture lost to the skin during a shower or a bath, says Dr. Bottiglione. 

Usually, body conditioners are applied all over your body as the last step in your shower routine, not after it. After rinsing shower gel or soap off your body, massage a scoop of body conditioner into your flesh. Then rinse all the excess product under warm water for instantly velvety-smooth and supple skin. Quantity-wise, how much body conditioner to use is entirely your judgment call. If your skin feels dry after the initial conditioner wash, you can use more on subsequent use. By the same token, reduce the quantity if your skin feels greasy after washing.  


Body conditioner penetrates your skin better

The reason why body conditioners should be used in a shower is that the skin is more permeable and likely to seal in moisture when it's wet. Moist skin allows for more effective absorption of products and enables nourishing ingredients to reach the skin at deeper levels. This is something that body cream or body lotion — which is usually applied after a shower — cannot do. "They're formulated to be hydrophilic, or literally water-loving, moisturizers," dermatologist and founder of Marmur Medical Ellen Marmur tells The Zoe Report. "Special molecules in the moisturizer are attracted to the water on wet skin. When they meet, they bond together forever and create a layer that holds water on top of the skin."


The same wisdom applies to your facial skincare routine. If you want to pump up the efficacy of your product, always slightly dampen your face with a hydrating mist or an essence before dabbing anything on your skin.

Body conditioner reduces inflammation

Moisturized skin equals healthy skin. When your skin is tip-top, it's more equipped to combat skin-related diseases. That's why regular use of a body conditioner helps minimize potential inflammation, making your skin healthier and less vulnerable to irritations. Dermatologist Dr. Tiffany J. Libby explains to The Zoe Report: "Dryness is the most common cause of itchiness and inflammation and can even lead to cracks in the skin that may allow for bacteria and pathogens to enter, causing infection." A key component of treating chronic skin woes such as eczema and atopic dermatitis is moisturizing, healing, and maintaining the skin barrier, all of which may be accomplished with a body conditioner, says Dr. Libby.


Sufficiently moisturized skin also contributes to lower levels of inflammation, preventing irritants from compromising the skin's barrier function and causing accelerated aging indications, including fine lines, wrinkles, and dark patches. Even while aging is unavoidable, keeping your skin well-hydrated is a terrific approach to reducing inflammation and maintaining a youthful appearance.

Body conditioner vs. body lotion vs. body wash

A body conditioner doesn't work the same way as a body cleanser or a gel shower. Liquid products used for a body wash are usually packed with cleansing or exfoliating ingredients that rid your skin of oil and impurities. A rinse-off body conditioner is more hydrating and reparative for the skin.


Between a body lotion and a body conditioner, the latter has a thicker consistency. A typical body typically has a thicker consistency than lotion. Like body lotion, a body conditioner is also designed to moisturize the skin and restore its lipid barrier. Still, it's more capable of penetrating the skin deeper and faster than body lotion.

"Lotion applied to dry skin may not be able to penetrate as deeply as body conditioners and can stay on the surface of the skin," dermatologist Dr. Zain Husain tells Coveteur. "When the skin is wet, however, it is able to absorb moisturizers faster, which is why an in-shower body conditioner is beneficial to use."

A body lotion can make your skin sticky, which is not the case with a body conditioner. A rinse-off body conditioner doesn't leave any greasiness on the skin like a body lotion because it can be washed off and absorbed more quickly. So, Dr. Husain continues, a body conditioner is a fantastic choice for early risers who only have time for a quick shower before heading out of the house.


Ingredients to look out for in a body conditioner

The benefits of rinse-off body conditioners do not end at smoothing and softening your skin. Some contain ingredients that help reduce tightness and fatigue on your skin, giving it a revitalized feel. For instance, The Zoe Report recommends Kiwi Botanicals Soothing Body Conditioner infused with manuka honey and chamomile. Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound known for its soothing effects on the skin. "Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help to calm and quell irritated skin conditions and reduce stress on skin," dermatologist Dr. Tiffany J. Libby tells The Zoe Report. Manuka honey is also a hydrating ingredient loaded with antioxidants as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. 


If you have chronically dry or eczema-prone skin, look for deeply hydrating ingredients such as niacinamide, vitamin E, and glycerin. These ingredients prevent dryness and release your skin's natural moisture to the outermost layer, giving it a healthy glow and reducing signs of aging. Coconut oil is also a potent emollient with an anti-inflammatory effect fit for dry skin type.

How to use a rinse-off body conditioner

If you have excessively dry skin or are living in a cold climate, you can follow up with an extra layer of body lotion after showering with a body conditioner for an extra boost of hydration. Petroleum jelly and grapeseed oil are two shining examples of emollient-rich ingredients that prevent water loss without blocking pores. In some situations, a rinse-off body conditioner can replace a body lotion. 


If your skin is oily or you live in a hot and humid area, you might want to ditch your body lotion for a lightweight rinse-off body conditioner with non-comedogenic ingredients such as glycerin and salicylic acid. The reason is too many coats of moisturizing ingredients in one sitting can overwhelm your skin and leave it feeling greasy, explains Dr. Zain Husain. Opt for a water-based, lightweight option if you're big on post-shower body lotion. When your skin produces excessive sebum, loading it with heavy, oil-based materials can make it feel stuffy and prone to breakout. 

With deeply hydrating qualities, body conditioners make a valuable supplement to your body wash routine. It hydrates and smoothens your skin and amplifies the moisturizing effects of your body lotion to make your skin feel extra soft and fresh.