We know the importance of chugging at least eight glasses of water daily. The stuff accounts for approximately 60 percent of our body and is required by nearly every single cell that makes up our being. While hydrating internally is important, it’s also vital that we do the same for our skin, which is our largest organ. “Hydrating the skin daily can complement the skin’s own natural recovery process and reinforces the protective barrier to prevent further dryness,” explains Seth Forman, MD, dermatologist and skin cancer specialist. Not to mention, a regimen with daily cream application can help prevent and reduce fine lines. Next time you moisturize, think beyond the face. Here, dermatologists share the areas of your body that are thirsty for more moisture, plus the best skin hydration products for each.
The skin surrounding your eyes is the thinnest on your body — measuring only about 0.5 mm thick — and is also one of the places that we first start to show signs of aging by developing crow’s feet, according to Erin Gilbert, MD, a dermatologist for Vichy. “Because it is so thin, it immediately shows how hydrated or dehydrated you are and is a place where dark circles begin to appear either from genetics, lack of sleep or poor nutrition,” she adds.
Your best bet solution: eye cream. They have a myriad of benefits depending upon their ingredients. “Eye creams with caffeine, tannins, and chamomile will reduce puffiness, while those with antioxidants will help to reverse sun damage, protect against more, and strengthen your collagen,” Dr. Gilbert explains. “Eye cream should be applied morning and night after gently washing your face while your skin is still damp.” To avoid tugging on your delicate eye skin, she suggests tapping the cream around the eye orbit and lids. Some of her favorites include Vichy Idealia Eyes ($31) and Skinceuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex ($98).
“The skin on your feet is some of the thickest on your body and people often neglect to moisturize it, leaving it rough and dry,” says Dr. Gilbert. “In sandal weather, dry heels are not only unattractive cosmetically, but they can also pose a health risk, since cracked heels can allow bacteria to enter the body and cause an infection.” She recommends moisturizing your feet daily to help prevent your skin from getting even thicker and cracking. The best time to do this is right after you get out of the shower.
While some people can get away with using a lighter lotion on their feet, Dr. Gilbert suggests using a cream, like Cetaphil Intensive Moisturizing Cream ($10), since it has a higher fat content and will hydrate the skin longer. “Towel them off and apply the cream to the entire foot, especially the heels which are most prone to getting dry and cracked,” she adds. If you have very thick, dry heels she recommends using a lotion or cream that contains the humectant urea, which draws in water from the air and softens the skin more effectively than regular moisturizer.
This thickened layer of skin that surrounds both finger and toenails also requires some hydration — preferably daily or at least every other day, says S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, dermatologist and founder of Miami Skin Institute. She recommends doing so with a thick petroleum jelly-based cuticle cream, such as Elta Creme ($14). “Do not rub in, but rather allow it to sink into cuticles, and you will never experience hangnails again!”
Your arms and legs
Okay, both of these areas of the body are the least likely to be neglected, since they’re out in the open — especially in the summer. “In many adult women, the back of the arms can have folicular pink bumps, commonly mistaken for body acne,” explains Dr. Jegasothy. “These are, in fact, keratin plugging of the hair follicles, a condition known as keratosis pilaris, and require glycolic acid moisturization and over-the-counter hydrocortisone daily after showering to ‘melt’ the keratin plugging and reduce the inflammation around the follicle.” Whatever you do, don’t try to pick or extract these plugs, as this only worsens the condition. Try Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion ($43).