Your all-over summer skin overhaul starts here – because skincare shouldn’t stop at our chins

While you might have a knock-out facial skincare routine down, what about the other 90% of the body? We’re often guilty of giving it just the bare necessities, or even ignoring it all together. But now that summer’s here, beauty editor Philippa Pearne believes our bodies deserve a little more love and attention…

Skincare for your neck & chest area

Experts advise taking our facial skincare right down to the neck and chest, but what targeted things can we do to delay age spots and other signs of ageing?

“Protect, protect, protect,” says Dr Justine Hextall, La Roche-Posay consultant dermatologist. “We’re better at protecting our faces now, but we still forget this delicate skin area that’s very vulnerable to UV damage.” The answer? A daily high SPF sunscreen. “It’s never too early to start to protect skin against UV and pollution,” Dr Hextall says. She suggests using La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Aquagel SPF30. “The hyaluronic acid has a built-in SPF and it’s colourless, so perfect for applying to the neck and chest without staining.”

Dr Hextall also recommends topping up hyaluronic acid levels, especially in later years. “During the menopause, there is a significant loss of hyaluronic acid, which plays an important part in collagen synthesis,” she says.

Try: Prai Ageless Throat & Decolletage Creme

• Size: 50ml

• Cruelty-free

Containing skin nourishing ingredients including shea butter, squalane and hyaluronic acid, this luxe cream helps to soften and firm, and it's a real treat to apply.

A naked woman sat sideways bent over so her arms and legs are covering her breasts
Skincare for your back, bottom & beyond

Remember to exfoliate or dry brush easy-to-forget areas such as bottoms and the backs of the thighs, as this can help boost circulation and buff away dead skin cells.

Try: Botanics Exfoliating Body Brush

• Made with soft, synthetic bristles

• Cruelty-free

Leave skin feeling smooth and re-energised with this soft bristle body brush. Use in circular motions, working upwards.

Summer often means back-baring tops, so invest in a body cleanser, such as Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Exfoliating Body Bar, especially after a workout. “Use a gentle cleanser that can help unblock pores, and after exercise remove sweaty gym clothes immediately, as the build-up of sweat, dead skin and oil can block pores,” advises Dr Hextall. If you’re concerned, speak to a GP, Boots pharmacist or use the Boots Online Doctor Acne Treatment service*.

“To moisturise, choose a cream containing a gentle exfoliating acid and niacinamide,” says Dr Hextall.

Try: CeraVe Blemish Control Gel Moisturiser

• Size: 40ml

• Fast-absorbing

This non-greasy moisturiser, created specifically for congestion-prone skin, contains a blend of ceramides, glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid to help keep skin clear and smooth.

And if you experience bumpy, chicken-like skin on your arms or legs, it’s most likely keratosis pilaris. “This is when the protein keratin blocks the follicles and is associated with a dry skin barrier,” says Dr Hextall. “I recommend a combination of salicylic acid and ceramides.”

Try: CeraVe Skin Smoothing Duo

• 2-piece set

This cleanser and moisturiser set contains a skin-smoothing combo of salicylic acid and ceramides to help reduce bumps and leave skin feeling softer and less rough to the touch.

Skincare for your scalp

Despite the attention we might lavish on our hair, our scalp rarely gets a look-in. But as we get older, we might begin to notice it feeling more dry (for women, this can be down to the perimenopause and menopause).

“Decreased oestrogen and progesterone can result in thinner hair and the glands in the follicles that produce oil start to slow down,” explains Sian Quinn, Headmasters colour ambassador. So it’s important to treat the scalp as an extension of the skin. After all, a healthy scalp encourages healthy hair.

For general scalp boosters, use a “clarifying shampoo and conditioner”, advises Adam Reed, founder of Arkive Haircare. “Try to do a scalp scrub once a week, and use a scalp serum every time you shampoo for added scalp maintenance,” he adds.

Try: Aussie Mighty Mega Everyday Clarifying Shampoo

• Size: 300ml

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

Boost hair’s natural bounce with this softening shampoo from Aussie. Infused with Australian Blue Mountain Eucalyptus extract, it gives lacklustre locks a new lease of life.

Try: Arkive The Crown Scalp Scrub

• Size: 180ml

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

Give the skin and the senses a treat with this reinvigorating scrub, which contains menthol and fruit enzymes to help stimulate the scalp.

Consider a regular in-salon treatment, too. “Preventing product build-up will help make the scalp the perfect environment to grow hair,” says Sian. “An in-salon microdermabrasion treatment every two to three months can help stimulate the blood flow and maintain a healthy scalp.”

A close up of a woman wearing black knickers with visible stretch marks on her upper thigh
Skincare for your private parts

Itchiness, irritation and an uncomfortable sandpaper feeling in and around the vagina can become all too familiar as we age. But there are ways to help, such as wearing looser, cotton underwear and washing with mild ingredients.

“Using harsh, fragranced soap products can disrupt the harmony of the vaginal microbiome and lead to discomfort,” explains Dr Frankie Spence, who works with FemFresh. “It’s important to treat intimate skin differently when cleansing, so either use warm water or pH-balanced products, and don’t clean the inside of the vaginal canal.”

Try: Femfresh 0% Sensitive Wash

• Size: 250ml

• pH-balanced

• Soap-free

• Fragrance-free

• Dermatologically & gynaecologically tested

This super gentle wash, created with sensitive skin in mind, is the ideal choice for the needs of the most intimate areas. Simply lather up and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Using a fragrance-free, pH-balanced product daily may help reduce dryness and itchiness

If something doesn’t feel right and a GP has ruled out any infections, Lucy Anderson, founder of intimate feminine care company, WooWoo, suggests using an intimate moisturiser as early as possible. “The change in our skin can be so gradual that we don’t notice it, particularly in intimate areas,” she says. “Just like the skin on our face, the vulva may need moisturising too, so using a fragrance-free, pH-balanced product daily may help reduce dryness and itchiness,” she adds.

Try: Woowoo Soothing Intimate Lube & Moisturiser

• Size: 75ml

• pH-balanced

• Fragrance-free

• Vegan-friendly

This multi-purpose lube and moisturiser, containing aloe vera, helps leave skin feeling more comfortable and cared for, whether during intimacy or in day-to-day life.

“Many women experiencing the menopause might be feeling itchy down below,” adds Lucy. Dr Spence explains that this may be down to vaginal atrophy, due to declining oestrogen, when the vaginal walls and vulval skin can become more thin and dry.

Speak to a GP or pharmacist for treatment options, which may include vaginal moisturisers or tablets (available over the counter), or consider the Boots Online Doctor Menopause and HRT Treatment service*.

To relieve discomfort, use a cool compress to reduce swelling, soak in a warm bath and wear loose cotton clothes to avoid friction

A close up of a woman from the side wearing black knickers with visible stretch marks on her thigh
Post hair removal skincare

The skin on our body becomes thinner as we age, which can lead to more frequent shaving rashes, post-wax sensitivity and red bumps.

Hilary Hepburn, hair removal expert for Smooth Appeal, says that the best treatment is to leave shaving rashes alone. “Ideally, avoid shaving the affected area until it’s fully healed and don’t use fragranced spray deodorants for at least 24 hours,” she advises.

It might be hard, but also try holding out a little longer before shaving again, as shaving stubbly hairs can cause further rashes. Hilary recommends, “waiting until the end of your shower before shaving, as this will loosen the hairs, causing them to swell so they’re less likely to curve into the skin and cause bumps.”

Hilary also suggests exfoliating before waxing and to moisturise with an unscented lotion after any hair removal (we love Aveeno Daily Moisturising After-Shower Mist in the summertime).

If you suffer with ingrown hairs, “they will typically go away on their own, but if not, don’t try to pluck, pull, shave, wax or cut hair in the area,” warns Hilary. To relieve discomfort, “use a cool compress to reduce swelling, soak in a warm bath and wear loose cotton clothes to avoid friction.”

Try: Nad’s Soothing Ingrow Solution

• Size: 125ml

• Cruelty-free

Ideal for arms, bikini lines and legs, this soothing solution helps exfoliate and decongest areas affected by ingrown hairs.

Try: Venus Daily Soothing Serum

• Size: 50ml

• Fragrance-free

• Gynaecologist and dermatologist-tested

Feeling the itch, particularly around your bikini line? This calming serum can help maintain hydration and smoothness after, and in-between, hair removal.

A woman seen from behind wearing blue jeans, without a top on so her bare back is showing
Skincare SOS

When it comes to skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, speak to a GP or pharmacist for advice, or check out the Boots Health Hub Skin Conditions page.

Hydration is a crucially important component: “The two are different conditions, but both cause dry, inflamed skin,” explains Dr Hextall. “Finding skincare that deeply hydrates, but is tolerated by the most sensitive skin is key.

“Look for moisturisers rich in humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerine or urea. Ideally, they’ll also contain rich emollients that help seal that moisture trapped by the humectants. Some examples are ceramides, shea butter, jojoba oil and cholesterol.”

For psoriasis, consider Boots Dermacare Psoriasis Treatment Cream. And rethink products like traditional shower gels – try Cetaphil Pro Moisture-Lipid Body Wash, for a super-gentle body cleanse – and even washing detergent. Boots Sensitive Skin Laundry Liquid is dermatologically tested and perfume- and enzyme-free.

Finally, make sure to use a fragrance-free sunscreen for sensitive skin, to protect skin from UV rays and reduce the risk of sun damage.

Try: Avène Intense Protect SPF50+ Sun Cream

• Size: 150ml

• Fragrance-free

• Water-resistant

This high factor sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection to help shield all skin types from the sun’s rays. Its gentle formula absorbs quickly but it’s also supremely moisturising. A hard balance to find in a sunscreen.

*Access to prescription-only medicine is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.