Get Summer-Ready Skin With High-Performance Skincare for Your Body

“I thought to myself: ‘Why has no one ever created a firming mask for our thighs? We have a million face masks to give us that instant “Yes!” but nothing for our bodies.’”

Jessica Richards, founder of the beauty and lifestyle boutique Shen Beauty in Brooklyn, has a morning routine that goes something like this: She exfoliates to get rid of dead skin cells, washes, applies a serum infused with sea buckthorn oil and then layers on a firming cream containing hyaluronic acid and cold-pressed essential oils. It sounds like all the right moves to keep her face radiant and glowing—only this routine is actually for her limbs.

Welcome to the new age of body care, where the region below your neck can now be toned and revitalized with the same type of results-driven elixirs you’d typically pat on your face. It’s about time this overlooked zone became part of the beauty conversation, argues Richards. “In my mind, people skimp on taking care of their bodies and go heavy into facial skincare because it’s what you see first.” But today, she says, “women are realizing how important body care truly is.”

In a time when wellness equals beauty, the idea of treating your body like a temple has never been more relevant. You can live on Pilates, micro-greens and forest baths for days, but until recently, all the best plant-based, wild-craft beauty formulas have focused on your visage—which is ironic when you consider the surface area of your body compared to that of your face, says Lindsay Knaak-Stuart, the founder of Meant, a new natural body-care line. “If you’re looking to clean up your routine with healthier, non-toxic products, you’re going to have the biggest impact if you start with your body.”

Craving something beyond the usual medicinal Epsom salts and cloyingly scented body creams on the shelves, Knaak-Stuart quickly realized a “white space” existed for elevated body care. Richards agrees, calling it “an untapped category” that’s ripe for disruption and poised for growth. Market research firm Euromonitor International predicts that sales of bath and shower products alone are expected to reach $1 billion in Canada by 2021. It brands want in on the action, too. Glossier has launched Body Hero, a set that includes a daily wash inspired by facial oils and a cream with glow-enhancing particles, and fine-fragrance house Le Labo recently introduced a paraben-free body-care collection of creams, scrubs, shower gels and hand soaps scented with unexpected notes like basil leaves and hinoki trees.

“If you’re looking to clean up your routine with healthier, non-toxic products, you’re going to have the biggest impact if you start with your body.”

Experimenting with potent extracts or the latest high-tech wonder might even prove easier south of your neck. “The body is not as intimidating as the face because it typically doesn’t break out as easily and the skin isn’t as thin,” says Richards. Aveeno spiked its latest body lotion and body wash with the same soy complex and light-reflecting minerals pumped into its Positively Radiant facial line to fight dark spots and reduce blotchiness. Fresh, meanwhile, recently expanded its Black Tea collection beyond face masks and essences to include an Age-Delay Body Cream infused with its signature blend of kombucha to boost elasticity as well as nopal flower extract to soften the thicker skin on your limbs. “For years, we’ve had customers tell us that they love the Black Tea Age-Delay Face Cream so much that they want to put it all over their body,” says Fresh co-founder Lev Glazman. “It makes complete sense because the aging process impacts your entire body, not just your face.” And at $88 for a 200-millilitre tube (versus $116 for a 50-millilitre jar of the face cream), it’s a slightly more economical solution.

Achieving a smooth and supple body IRL and on Instagram is the goal for many these days. “We are now a social media-driven culture,” says Jamie O’Banion, a Dallas-based entrepreneur and the CEO of Beauty Bioscience. “I think women are seeing themselves in pictures more than ever [and seeking] visible improvements.” That inspired O’Banion—who developed GloPro, the at-home microneedling tool with a cult following—to launch the Power Patch Collection, a line of anti-aging “patches” for different areas of the body. “I thought to myself: ‘Why has no one ever created a firming mask for our thighs? We have a million face masks to give us that instant “Yes!” but nothing for our bodies,’” she says.

“I thought to myself: ‘Why has no one ever created a firming mask for our thighs? We have a million face masks to give us that instant “Yes!” but nothing for our bodies.’”

Engineering this innovation was not so simple, though. “Version one began with the latest sheet-mask technology loaded with firming actives,” says O’Banion. “The results were fantastic, but I had to lie naked flopped on my tummy for 20 minutes and I thought to myself, ‘No way.’” Many revisions later, she found a fabric that was “flexible enough to move with you and, most importantly, dry on one side so you could even wear it under silk jammies at night.” The resulting Power Patch Collection will debut this spring, just in time for the season of sheer clothing. “The thigh patches focus on firming and smoothing; our knee patches fill and tighten the loose, crepey skin above the knee; and the hand patches work on stubborn spots and aging, puckered skin,” says O’Banion, adding that the knee patches already have a wait-list. (“Elephant skin above the kneecaps—it’s an epidemic!”)

To extend the benefits on the go, consider Basd, a new line of body lotions, scrubs and cleansers out of Waterloo, Ont., that rely on active botanicals (aloe vera, shea butter) to reduce acne scars, calm puffiness and minimize stretch marks from the décolletage down.

If gadgets are your fix, there are plenty to play with, including NuFace’s NuBody, a firming microcurrent device that can
zap your abs, arms, butt and thighs. Creams that morph and change texture your thing? The Body Shop’s Body Yogurts contain hydrating hyaluronic acid, softening almond milk and fruit extracts. Knaak-Stuart, for her part, finds that The Wonder Polish, a coffee-based exfoliator that’s tactile and fun to apply, is especially popular among millennials, while The Absolute Balm, a multi-tasking salve that can be used on your limbs as well as your face and hair, appeals to the busy over-30 crowd.

Yet gimmicks do exist in body care, just as they do in face care. Richards cites a brand that shall go unnamed that promised to slim the legs but, in the end, didn’t deliver results. “I think it’s a great concept, but after months of use, I noticed no difference,” she says. “I stopped selling it.” She also points out that no one has cracked the code on curing the peskiest of all body concerns: “No cream, even if it claims to do so, is going to elim­inate your cellulite; that comes from exercise, diet and genetics,” she insists.

“The world is an increasingly complex place. Practising self-care by taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally from the inside out is a way to manage those complexities.”

Still, there is a place for body care that simply makes you feel good; perhaps this explains our current obsession with head-to-toe pampering rituals. “The world is an increasingly complex place,” says Glazman of what’s driving the interest in body care. “Practising self-care by taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally from the inside out is a way to manage those complexities.” And Richards says she finds a certain nirvana in rubbing her antioxidant-rich body serum on her legs after showering. As she puts it, “I feel like I’m ready to take on the world.”