When I was a little girl, I saw a TV commercial for lotion that stuck with me for life. A woman scratched the word “dry” onto her hand to illustrate how dry her skin was, and I was horrified. The image of that woman’s hand was my Moisturizer Scared Straight moment and I vowed then and there to never be able to scratch a legible word on my dry skin.
I hadn’t seen it in decades but of course it was waiting for me at the end of a quick Google search. Join in my terror.
The only problem? I hate the act of moisturizing my body. Unlike those who don’t like to feel…moist, like our own dear Tynan, I love to feel soft and supple, I just don’t like the process of applying the stuff that makes it happen. I love fewer things more than a long, hot shower. I’ll get my loofah on until my fingertips wrinkle at the beginning and end of most days, and sometimes with a third shower in between depending on gym timing.
(Shower length has been shortened of late due to the water crisis hitting closer to home each day, but I also compensate in other areas like laundry and dishwashing because I truly love my showers.)
That very love is shockingly incompatible with my disdain for what should naturally and ideally follow any shower, particularly a long and hot one, the ever-important moisturization. The process of rubbing lotion onto my body annoys me so much for no good reason that I’ve had to create little workarounds. If I can’t stand putting on lotion but I’m terrified of being the D-R-Y lady, what’s a gal to do?
1. Use baby oil in the shower.
I think this was a marketing ploy at one point, or maybe a trendy thing to do back when it was passed around through print magazines, before Lifehacker and Pinterest. The tricky thing about this technique is not making a mess of your shower/tub and towels. You don’t want to fill your cupped palm up with oil and just go splashing it around. Everything will be an oily mess, and you could also slip and fall.
After your shower, while you’re still wet, start with a small squirt for each limb and then your torso, and work your way up in volume until you feel slick but won’t leave huge greasy blobs on your towel when you pat yourself dry. (Leave oil off your feet for safety.) It takes far less rubbing than lotion to feel baby soft, and if you rub just the right amount of baby oil onto yourself, you’ll feel the way I imagine a baby seal does when I see pictures of them looking all cute and glossy.
2. Do the most with your feet.
Whether you try the baby oil thing or not, your feet will likely need extra attention. Especially as it’s currently winter, when many of us let our pedicure game lag, if that is even a game in which we play at all. When I get out of the shower before getting ready to go out, I cover my feet in lotion and put on socks and sneakers.
I’m going to try to get through this whole thing without saying “slather” (oops), so when I say “cover,” I mean really cover your footsies so that lotion is still visible and thick.
Carefully pull on a pair of clean cotton socks, stretching them out so you’re not just scraping off all the lotion to rest around your ankles, and put on a pair of comfy sneakers.
I’ll then go on about my business of continuing to get ready, which can take quite some time if hair is being blown out or otherwise styled, makeup is being applied, etc. I look pretty silly in a bathrobe or towel with socks and sneakers on, but it’s worth it when I take off the socks and sneaks to reveal soft feet and toes with no dreaded rubbing in required.
The slight…squishiness of walking around like this might take some getting used to, but a bonus is that your feet are supported if you’re standing or walking around, and they won’t spread at all while you’re getting ready—this is an issue for some people, particularly when it’s hot or before putting on strappy sandals or otherwise snug shoes.
A similar trick can be done with baby oil: this is useful if you’ve had a pedicure that’s pretty much dry but you don’t want to put shoes on yet, yet you don’t have the luxury of sitting around barefoot indefinitely. Lay down about a square foot of plastic wrap, one square for each of your feet. With your feet in the center of each square, cover your toes generously in baby oil, wrap them up tightly in the saran wrap, and put on socks and shoes right away. Go on about your business, and your pedi will be protected with the bonus of supple feet when you decide to be barefoot again.
3. Work your hands too
Hopefully, you’re washing your hands. A lot. Staying within the realm of rational cleanliness, of course, it’s important to keep those hands clean, especially during cold and flu season, AKA now-ish. And of course all that hand-washing might make one into the lady from the macabre ad above, which won’t do at all.
You can pick up some cotton gloves to sleep in after putting lotion on, but personally, I really don’t enjoy wearing those (or their footie counterparts, for that matter). Alison has us all covered for luxe hand cream recommendations, but whether you use high or low end hand cream or lotion, I highly suggest you use something, and often.
As preposterous as my anti-rubbing-lotion-in silliness is, at least it responds to the logic that my hands are what would do the rubbing to begin with, so they’re the least repellent place to do it. I still don’t love making that repetitive hand motion like the villain in a silent movie about to do some villainy, so my trick here is just to have a hand moisturizer literally on hand as much as possible.
There’s the little one that goes from purse to purse, the bigger lotion in my gym bag, the pump bottle by the kitchen sink, the humongous tub in the bathroom, and this fantastic DHC balm on my nightstand. The idea is to be able to grab some lotion and handle my hands whenever the thought occurs and be done with it before I can have time to dread it.
4. Buy cheap lotion
Buy expensive lotion too if you want to and you have the means, but I can’t sing the praises enough of a solid, inexpensive moisturizer that gets the job done. I don’t care if I became a billionaire tomorrow, I would never advise nor participate in excessive use of lotion as described above without addressing cost and avoiding flagrant waste. It just doesn’t make sense. There are perfectly good lotions available in huge sizes for a dollar at a variety of Dollar Store-type spots; snap a pic or download the ingredients list of a pricier option and find the closest match, or opt for baby lotions if you have sensitive skin and are nervous about irritation.
Unless you have money to burn, most of your areas below the neck will do just fine with a very inexpensive lotion, and if you dare do the foot thing as pictured above with anything pricey, I’ll wag my finger at you my damn self.
Moisturizers can be like dishware; I have to use something to eat on every day, but I break out the good stuff for celebrations, company, when I’m feeling fancy, etc. My current “good stuff” is the divine June Jacobs Spa Collection Cranberry Body Balm and Benefit’s Bathina Body So Fine, another balm that’s applied with a velvet pad, so it’s not like rubbing at all!
[The Body So Fine was recently discontinued and reformulated into a similar balm with a different name, but the OG Body So Fine can still be found and I think it trumps its successor.]
Whether you think of lotions as lovely continuations of your personal indulgent toilette routine or as necessary evils or anything in between, this isn’t about being girly or glam. Skin is our largest organ and it needs to be taken care of, whether you like the rubbing part or not. Share your own moisturizer hacks below, or we can just all talk about how much some people hate the word moist!
Stay moist, friends. Moist.