The body’s largest organ is the skin; it accounts for 15% of your total body weight, and is your body’s first defense against infection, free radicals and other potentially damaging substances. Aside from the skin on you face, hands and maybe your neck, however, your skin is also the most neglected parts of the body. Skin scientists at Proctor& Gamble, responsible for some of your favorite tried and true beauty products (think: Olay, Herbal Essences, and Pantene to name a few) determined that in in order for skin to be properly moisturized, your skin's barrier needs to maintain at least 15 percent moisture. If you’re thinking, what does that mean, you’re not alone. We traveled all the way to Cincinnati to catch up with skin expert, Dr. Frauke Neuser, to get the 411 on skin care and she who broke down the basics of skin hydration for us, one pump at a time.
Tell us if we’re wrong, but last time we checked, ashy, dull skin never looked good on anyone. The purpose of lotion, however, isn’t just to give the appearance of smooth skin, it’s to hydrate the cells on the stratum corneum (fancy term for the top layer of your skin). The reason your skin takes on an ashy (sometimes itchy) look and feel is because the cells on the outer most layer of your skin become dry and lifts up from the surface. Lotion helps to heal dry skin by adding moisture and also helping those skin cells lay down on the surface of the skin evenly.
According to Dr. Neuser, hydrating from the inside out is key, so drinking water is essential in addition to hydrating the skin topically. At minimum, you should be using two full pumps of lotion on the various sections of your body. Neuser recommends moisturizing skin from the bottom up, starting with your legs (two pumps per leg) and moving upward to the torso, chest, arms and finally the neck.
So when will you know that your skin is properly moisturized? Neuser suggests that as long as you are applying adequate moisture to the skin topically, it’s really a matter of personal preference based on how you would like your skin to feel. “You want to make sure that your lotion absorbs quickly. I love Olay Quench ($8.99, at drugstores).” It’s also a matter of whether you want to feel like you have something on your skin, which can be determined by formula. For those who prefer the barely there feeling, an in-shower body lotion may be preferable. However, women who want the feeling of rich, deep moisture should opt for a heavier, creamier substance like Olay Ultra Body Lotion ($8.99, at drugstores) and cocktail it with an equally rich body wash like Olay 2-in-1 Essential Oils Ribbons Body Wash ($6.49, at drugstores).
If lotion isn't your think in general, then a light body oil may be your next best bet. Either way, maintaining hydrated skin is key—not for just keep healthy looking skin, but also to help your skin do it's job to ward off bacteria and block other harmful substances from coming in contact with your body.