In the winter, we almost expect our skin to be dry, bumpy and generally irritated by the harsh weather. But when summer rolls around, the skin doesn’t always magically transform itself into a dolphin-like luster. (We wish!) Sometimes, getting smooth, summer-ready skin just takes a little bit of prep. “During the summer months, many of us are spending more time outdoors in the hot summer weather,” says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology. “This means more exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, heat and infrared from the sun, as well as pool and ocean water.”
That can be a recipe for major irritation, including ailments like ingrown hairs or keratosis pilaris — known colloquially as “chicken skin.” But according to Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, there are a few simple steps you can take before even going shopping: “First, avoid using hot water to bathe or shower, as hot water and steam exposure for long periods of time can damage the lipid barriers in your skin, making it harder to retain moisture,” he says.
Woman applying cream on her legs
This is doubly true in cold months, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for warmer climates. And in addition to checking your soaps and cleansers for ingredients that can exacerbate irritation — alcohol, heavy fragrances and antibacterial detergents can make dryness worse, Hartman says — look at your closet too. “Natural fibers such as silk and cotton let your skin breathe and protect it from chafing,” Dr. Hartman says. “When washing your clothes, look for detergents that are free of perfumes and dyes — these can irritate your skin. Fabric softeners can also cause problems for dry skin.”
Still, making a few simple swaps to your bath and body care lineup can make all the difference. Ahead, 19 products that dermatologists, estheticians and even an acupuncturist recommend for baby-soft skin.
Glytone KP Kit
“Renew dry skin and minimize bumps with this two-step treatment for keratosis pilaris,” says Dr. Hartman. “Intense levels of ‘free’ glycolic acid helps renew rough, dry skin and minimize red bumps. With continued use of the Glytone body lotion and cleanser, there is a noticeable reduction in bumps and redness as well as smoother, more even-toned skin.”
CeraVe SA Cream
“This is designed to improve skin texture and soften very dry skin,” says Dr. Hartman. “Formulated with salicylic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, this fragrance-free cream for rough skin helps improve skin texture by exfoliating, hydrating and calming your skin while restoring its natural barrier with three essential ceramides.”
iS Clinical Body Complex
“An intensely hydrating formulation that delivers essential vitamins, calming botanicals and powerful antioxidants to the skin, Body Complex encourages mild exfoliation while it helps provide a crucial barrier against harmful environmental aggressors, leaving the skin feeling soft, toned and protected,” says Sai Demirovic, esthetician and owner of Glo Spa in New York City. “It’s excellent for even the most compromised skin conditions.”
Olay Nourishing Body Wash With Vitamin B3 and Hyaluronic Acid
“Gentle cleansers cleanse the skin without drying the skin out, and Olay body wash with B3 is a great option,” says Dr. Elyse Love, a board-certified dermatologist who practices in New York City.
Origins Ginger Body Scrub
“If your skin is feeling a bit lackluster, this body scrub will brighten its day,” says Demirovic. “It also doubles as a mini mani/pedi when you scrub your hands and feet. Just use it once a week, as our body generally does a decent job at shedding skin on its own.”
Skinceuticals Body Tightening Concentrate
“This cooling fluid reinflates and helps support the skin’s structure, leading to a smooth, tight surface,” says Dr. Hartman. “It’s ideal for sagging skin on areas where gravity takes its toll like the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, knees and upper arms.”
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
“I love First Aid Beauty for its gentle formulations,” says Demirovic. “As your last step of body skin care, lather up the moisturizer (I tend to do it with wet hands to help with absorption) and usually mix with SPF.”
Kora Organics Noni Glow Body Oil
“The perfect way to give your skin a real glow is with this body oil,” says Demirovic. “It’ll make your skin feel softer and smoother without leaving you greasy because of its fast absorption.”
EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47
“For body sunscreens, Elta Pure is one of my go-to mineral-only sunscreens for both kids and families alike to properly protect from the sun,” says Dr. Levin.
Environ Body EssentiA Vitamin A, C, & E Body Oil
“Massage this onto the skin after showering every morning to moisturize and soften the skin, even skin tone and prevent sun damage,” says Stefanie DiLibero, licensed acupuncturist & esthetician, and founder of Gotham Wellness Acupuncture in New York City.
Isdin Uradin Podos Hydrating Gel Oil
“This works wonders on dry, cracked feet, and as a way to give yourself the baby feet benefits of a pedicure when you can’t make it to the salon,” says DiLibero.
Alastin Transform Body Treatment with TriHex Technology
“This award-winning cream helps reduce the appearance of crepey skin anywhere on the body, including arms, hands and knees,” says Dr. Hartman. “It hydrates from the inside out with botanical ingredients that support the production of hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans.”
Dial Fragrance Free Clean + Gentle™ Body Wash
“For body soaps, I use Dial Clean + Gentle Fragrance Free Body Wash as a simple but moisturizing body soap that is loaded with glycerin, one of the most effective humectants in skin care, to remove all the sweat, dirt, makeup and sunscreen buildup from the summer day but without stripping the skin barrier,” says Dr. Levin, who works with the brand.
Luxcey Emma Ultra Moisturizing Body Balm
“I love this deeply nourishing body balm, which is great to apply after a day of too much sun, made with many sustainably harvested and organic ingredients,” says DiLibero. “It was the first product from this line, a female-founded Candian company, inspired by the beauty rituals of the women from the founder’s ancestral village in Cameroon.”
Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
“For body exfoliation, Glytone’s Exfoliating Body Wash cleanses and softens to gently exfoliate dead skin cells with 8.8% glycolic acid,” says Dr. Levin. “It’s also safe for pregnancy.”
Isdin Uradin Lotion 10
“For body moisturizers, Isdin’s Uradin is one of my favorite lightweight moisturizers that has 10% urea, which not only moisturizes but gently exfoliates without feeling heavy or greasy during the summer months,” says Dr. Levin.
Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash
“For those with sensitive skin, Dove Sensitive Skin Care is the gold standard for gentle cleanse,” says Dr. Love.
Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator
“Exfoliators help to even rough uneven tones and texture,” says Dr. Love. “Nécessaire makes a gentle exfoliator that can be used a few times a week.”
Eos Body Lotion
“Even though it’s warmer outside, most of us still need a moisturizer to lock in the skin’s natural moisture and prevent oily or dry skin,” says Dr. Love. “Eos Body Lotion is a lightweight moisturizer that contains soothing ingredients like shea butter for a nongreasy finish. It also comes in fun scents for warmer months.”