We Asked 5 Dermatologists Which Products They Use In (& Out Of) The Shower

Photographed by Ramona Jingru Wang.
When it comes to skincare, I consider myself an A* student. I don’t have a complicated 12-step routine, but you won’t catch me without a substantial layer of high-factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen (two finger-lengths full is the optimum amount), or having not double cleansed every evening. Body care, on the other hand? I could take it or leave it. In fact, I mostly do leave it. Looking after my face is easy, but moisturising my body from head to toe seems a more laborious chore than doing laundry.
Can anyone change my mind? According to Pinterest, 2024 will be the year that we take body care as seriously as we do skincare. Its recent trend forecast revealed that searches for “body skin care routine” have increased by an enormous 1,025%, while “body care” isn’t far behind, at 845% searches. It’s a similar story on TikTok, where the phrase “bodycare routine” has amassed 2.5 billion views. There, you’ll spot dermatologists and skincare enthusiasts alike sharing both functional and luxurious routines to suit all budgets and lifestyles. But if you consider yourself a minimalist, is a body care routine really necessary?
“If left to its natural devices, the skin on the body is actually well equipped to protect itself,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed, “but as a lot of the natural protective factors are removed via washing and hair removal, for instance, it can lose moisture quickly.” Our bodies are also subject to friction from clothing, adds Dr Ahmed, and certain areas of skin (like palms, elbows and soles of feet) are thicker and require more moisture. 
To that end, the skin on our bodies tends to have a number of needs, and in some ways, they differ from the face. Hot showers, heavily perfumed shower gels and drying vigorously with towels can all make skin dry and irritated, which is why most dermatologists will recommend using a body serum or lotion post-shower. Body care is especially beneficial if you have a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis or acne, says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. Those with body acne will do well with a salicylic acid-based body wash, for example, which will penetrate the skin on a deeper level to break up the mixture of oil and dead skin cells before they can clog pores and form a breakout. Salicylic acid (as well as AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid) is also great for keratosis pilaris, or “chicken skin”, says consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Belmo. This presents as rough, bumpy patches of skin that often resemble goosebumps.
Like skincare, knowing where to start with a body care routine is half the battle. Ahead, I asked five top dermatologists to share their own body care routines; some are involved and others are more basic, but there’s something for everyone.

Dr Sharon Belmo, consultant dermatologist

“My routine is very simple,” Dr Belmo tells R29. She tends to avoid strongly perfumed shower gel: “I wash with a simple, hydrating body wash such as La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP Wash, £19.70. Water alone can actually be an irritant so I would always advise washing with a hydrating body wash or, for those with very dry or eczema-prone skin, a soap substitute.” Try Dermol Cream £12.18, which is often recommended by doctors and dermatologists as a soap-free substitute.
Dr Belmo says that it’s highly beneficial to moisturise immediately after showering to seal in moisture. “My skin is on the drier side and I cannot leave the house without moisturising. I use richer moisturisers with ceramides, such as CeraVe Moisturising Cream, £17, or La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume, £17,” says Dr Belmo, who prefers thicker textures over lightweight lotions or body serums. If you’d rather shop around, Dr Belmo says that ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid are key ingredients to help to draw in more moisture. Lastly, if you’re headed out into the sun post-shower, a broad spectrum SPF is a must: “For the body, I often recommend buying more budget friendly sunscreens so you won’t be afraid to use the larger amounts needed to cover the exposed parts of the body,” says Dr Belmo.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist

Body care is an investment in overall skin health that goes beyond just the face, says Dr Mahto, who specialises in acne. “I personally have a body care routine that aligns with the principles I recommend to my patients,” says Dr Mahto. To wash with, Dr Mahto uses CeraVe SA Foaming Cleanser, £14. “This is a facial cleanser but it’s a good size and can be used on the body,” says Dr Mahto. “I also prioritise regular exfoliation to promote skin renewal using a gentle scrub like Rhug Estate Honey & Rosemary Scrub, £45, or a body brush.” Regular exfoliation is something that Dr Mahto always recommends: “It helps to slough off dead skin cells, promote cell turnover and prevent dullness and rough texture. It also allows for better absorption of subsequent skincare products,” she says. “Following this, I apply a moisturising body lotion enriched with ingredients like glycerin to lock in hydration. I love Sol de Janiero Bum Bum Cream, £21.”
Sun protection is also a non-negotiable step in Dr Mahto’s morning body care routine. “I use a broad-spectrum sunscreen — Heliocare Advanced Spray SPF50, £27 — on exposed areas to shield the skin from harmful UV rays,” she says. Overall, Dr Mahto drives home that it’s important to choose products tailored to your skin type and concerns, especially if you suspect you have a skin condition. If this is the case, consider visiting your GP or a qualified skincare expert or dermatologist for further advice. 

Dr Adeline Kikam, DO, Msc, FAAD

For Dr Kikam, body care is an extension of her self-care routine. It starts with a moisturising shower gel or wash: Dr Kikam recommends Dove Beauty Bar, £1.49, or Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash with Soothing Oat, £6.75, both of which she says cleanse skin without stripping it of moisture. Dr Kikam is also partial to using Naturium The Perfector Salicylic Acid Body Wash, £18, which she says is a great option for those with dark spots as a result of body acne
If she isn’t using a body wash containing exfoliating acids, Dr Kikam exfoliates one to three times a week to promote smoother and softer skin. She prefers chemical exfoliants (think glycolic acid or salicylic acid) over physical exfoliants like exfoliative gloves. While the latter can be beneficial, it’s best not to use them too frequently, says Dr Kikam, as they can be overly abrasive. She personally uses Necessaire The Body Exfoliator Eucalyptus, £30, with glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid, or Skinfix Resurface+Glycolic Renewing Scrub, £32, also with glycolic and salicylic acid.
Next, moisturiser. “A daily moisturiser or body lotion keeps the skin hydrated and prevents dryness, especially in the winter months,” says Dr Kikam, who uses Avène XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Cream Moisturiser, £19,75, and La Roche-Posay Lipikar Moisturising Balm AP+M, £17. If you’d prefer something more lightweight, she suggests trying a body serum like Necesaire The Body Serum Fragrance-Free, £46
Of course, sunscreen is a must if you’re headed outside, says Dr Kikam.

Dr Zainab Laftah, consultant dermatologist at HCA The Shard

My body care routine is very basic due to a busy schedule,” Dr Laftah says. Her top tip is to use a cream in favour of foaming soap, which can often be drying, particularly for those dealing with chronic dryness or diagnosed eczema. “I use Eucerin 10% Urea Body Lotion, £16.50, as a soap substitute as I have dry skin, followed by Aveeno Daily Moisturising After-Shower Mist, £8.49,” says Dr Laftah. Simple yet effective. 
For those with eczema or psoriasis, it’s important to keep skin moisturised and hydrated. The above products spotlight emollients in particular, which are ingredients that soothe and soften skin, like moisturising glycerin, urea, shea butter and jojoba oil. 

Dr Alia Ahmed, consultant dermatologist

“I gently exfoliate in the shower using a soft washcloth [the muslin cloth that comes with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish], which I wash after each use to avoid bacteria build up,” says Dr Ahmed, who always uses this alongside a body wash. “My current preference is CeraVe Smoothing SA Cleanser, £11.20, which can be used for body and face,” adds Dr Ahmed. “This has salicylic acid in it, which also helps with exfoliation,” including minimising ingrown hairs. 
“When I feel that my skin doesn’t need this level of exfoliation I actually just use an emollient as a wash, like Cetraben, £15.59, or Diprobase, £15.75, creams — these are great ones to use,” says Dr Ahmed. Post shower, Dr Ahmed reaches for a simple moisturiser: “At the moment I like using Dove Pro-age Lotion, £7, as it contains niacinamide [hydrating and anti-inflammatory] and AHA [an alpha hydroxy acid, namely lactic acid, which has gentle exfoliating properties].”
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