Beauty

How COVID Forced Me To Begin Taking Care Of The Skin Below My Neck

My limbs are no longer scaly, itchy, flaky appendages.

Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images

Remember the massive productivity boom that came at the beginning of COVID? Everyone thought they'd finally write that novel/become fluent in a third language/master home cooking thanks to the endless stay-at-home orders. Much of the pressure to accomplish these highly ambitious goals fell by the wayside, but one positive habit I took up during quarantine actually has stuck: I now moisturize my entire body, not just the skin on my face.

I've been a beauty editor for more than five years now, so I'm well aware that your skin is your largest organ and it's important to take care of all of it, not just your décolletage and above. Taking care of only the skin on your face is kind of like only washing your upper body in the shower — of course moisturizing isn't just for select parts of your bod. But I'm lazy. So when quarantine ambition levels reached their peaks in March and April, I gazed into my overcrowded beauty cabinet for inspo on how to up the ante on my self-care game (because social media told me to), and dozens of body care products, all covered in dust and hidden in the back, stared back at me.

The bottles had been giving me the side eye whenever I reached for a (face) serum or (face) moisturizer for who knows how long. But the thing is, body care has been exploding over the past year or so. An ever-increasing chunk of beauty brands known for other categories have recently entered the space: Drunk Elephant, True Botanicals, Cocokind, and Versed are just a few examples. Not only that, but according to consumer data platform Influenster, customer reviews of body care products grew 140% year over year between 2019 and 2020. Clearly there's no shortage of options when it comes to lotions and creams to hydrate your limbs.

Besides the saturated body care market, my skin is reason enough to begin giving TLC to the areas below my neck. Because of my laziness, my hands, arms, legs, and heels have slowly crumbled into flaky, itchy, dry-as-hell appendages due to their lack of moisture and nutrients — all while my face gets spoiled with layers upon layers of fancy products (twice a day, no less) and glows in all its glory. I only have the pandemic to thank for smoothing out this, uh, not-so-pretty disconnect between my face and my body.

I couldn't stop caressing my arms for the rest of the night. Why didn't I start moisturizing my body till I was in my early thirties?

It all began one evening early in quarantine after showering. Hell-bent on leaving the bathroom glistening with moisture — #dolphinskin — I reached for my unopened The Body Serum from Nécessaire as my first layer. My limbs immediately slurped up the hydrating trio of hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide, then begged me for more. To seal in the nourishing goodness, I applied the Mutha Body Butter all over, which contains various butters (like the OG, shea butter) and fatty acids to replenish the skin's barrier. I couldn't stop caressing my arms for the rest of the night: Why did I wait till my early thirties to start moisturizing my body?

As the months flew by, I started to experiment with my body care regimen. I had a body oil phase (shoutout to Irene Forte Skincare's Rose Body Oil, which I completely drained), and went through so many creams — including Drunk Elephant's Sili Body Lotion, Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, and La Roche-Posay's Lipikar Balm.

By now, I think I've brought my body skin back from the parched dead state it was in for so many years. My legs and arms haven't itched or been scaly for months; my hands, ravaged into dehydrated claws from sanitizer use, are creamy and baby-soft. If there's one teeny tiny silver lining to this year of horror, it's that my body is finally getting the TLC it deserves.