I Thought Body Care Was Pointless, Until I Found This $28 Lotion

Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline Kilikita.
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Up until recently, there are many things I’d rather have done than moisturise my body from top to toe. Take out the bins? No problem. Empty and re-stack the dishwasher? Leave it to me. Though I would never skip moisturising my face, extending the same care to my limbs felt like the worst of chores. As a nighttime showerer, the lure of slipping straight into clean pyjamas (without getting stuck in them — a serious, sensory nightmare) is far too strong.
So when The Inkey List’s PHA Exfoliating and Hydrating Body Water Cream, $28, landed on my desk last month, I’ll admit that it took some convincing for me to try it. Not simply because I’m lazy but because I’ve been stung (quite literally) by body care that contains exfoliating acids in the past. Glycolic acid — an alpha hydroxy acid that works by removing the top layer of dead skin cells — can be particularly harsh on just-shaved legs. 
If you’re an R29 regular, or an Inkey List fan, you might’ve spotted my recent review of the brand’s Bio-Active Ceramide Plumping Moisturiser. I thought that if its foray into body care was anything like this (simple, affordable and highly effective) maybe I could come round to the idea of a regular routine. What’s more, the acids in this lotion (polyhydroxy acids, or PHAs, to be exact) are a little different to others you might’ve tried. 

What are PHAs and what are the skin benefits?

Similar to AHAs (such as glycolic acid) and BHAs (like salicylic acid) the main purpose of PHAs is to chip away at dead, dull skin cells, but they do so in a much more gentle way. Without taking you back to chemistry class, two common PHAs are gluconolactone and lactobionic acid; it’s these that you’ll spot in the ingredients lists on the back of skincare products that contain PHAs. 
What differentiates PHAs from other exfoliating acids is that they are made up of larger molecules, so they don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin. In other words, they’re a little bit less potent, which makes them a great choice for skin that is reactive or sensitive. PHAs are especially beneficial for acne-prone skin, as they are known to control oil production without resulting in excessive dryness (a common gripe with stronger AHAs in particular). They also increase skin hydration.
As someone who regularly gets body breakouts and uncomfortable ingrown hairs, I had nothing to lose. Another thing that swayed me was the name: “Water Cream” suggests that it absorbs quickly and won’t leave behind a sticky residue — a good thing if all you want to do is climb straight into bed or head out the door. Sure enough, the texture occupies a cosy space between a lightweight gel and a body butter: It sinks in fast but feels substantially moisturising. I also like that it isn’t packed with fragrance, which can be overwhelming before bed and interfere with any perfume you might want to wear during the day. 

Is The Inkey List’s PHA Exfoliating and Hydrating Water Cream any good?

I’ve been using this lotion every single evening for the past month and — as you might’ve guessed — my skin is so much better off. The little pimples and ingrown hairs that would pepper my thighs post-shave have all but disappeared and the dry, white patches on my elbows have since let up. I’ve noticed the most difference on my chest and neck, where I’d often get a cluster of painful spots. Thanks to consistent use, those breakouts are now few and far between.
For me, though, the biggest test for a body lotion is how well it performs on my feet, which, come rain or shine, are always tucked inside chunky Doc Marten boots. The skin on the soles of our feet is typically a lot thicker and drier than elsewhere on the body, so it often needs extra care; regularly using a lotion with exfoliating acids (especially gentle versions like PHAs) is a great shout. I expected much softer soles but — and this is the only way I can think to describe how effective the lotion is — they literally squeak inside my bed sheets. Some will cringe but those with a history of dry, cracked feet will know how deeply satisfying this feeling is. So much so, I’ve ditched the expensive, podiatrist-recommended foot cream I was using previously. It just didn’t cut it and it was nowhere near as good value.

How can you get rid of dry, cracked skin on feet?

Also new to Inkey’s body care range is the Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Stick, $32, which is equally as beneficial on very dry feet. This targeted treatment looks like a roll-on deodorant and is designed to be swiped onto the skin. Think rough elbows, arms with keratosis pilaris (or KP — essentially rough, bumpy skin), ingrown hairs to loosen them and hyperpigmentation to help fade marks over time. The brand recommends using the treatment as and when you need it, while the PHA Water Cream makes for an easy, everyday maintenance product. 
Like everything Inkey, the products aren’t perfumed, nor are they housed in luxe tubs or pretty glass jars. If you want your body care to double up as a spa experience in the comfort of your bathroom, these aren’t for you. But if you want fuss-free, functional skincare that does exactly what it says on the tin — and won't leave you out of pocket — you aren’t going to be disappointed.
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