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A woman putting lotion onto smooth legs


How To Moisturize Dry Legs

Addressing dry skin on your legs can be tough if you don’t know the cause. Here, learn some causes of dry legs and how to manage dryness for softer skin.

Dry skin is a concern that nearly everyone struggles with once in a while. It can crop up suddenly (often, at the worst possible time), or it can be constant and unrelenting—particularly if you have a drier skin type. Some everyday habits, like shaving your legs or taking long baths, can also trigger or worsen irritated, dry skin. If you have dry skin on your legs, moisturizing may help in the short term, but following a dedicated skincare routine is key for lasting relief.

Here, we’ll go over some common causes of dry legs and clue you in on four simple tips to help manage persistent dryness. You’ll also discover some of Kiehl’s best body lotions for dry skin and learn how to use them in your daily body care routine. Keep reading to learn how to moisturize dry legs for softer, smoother skin.

What Can Cause Dry Skin On Your Legs?

Dry skin occurs when the skin’s natural moisture barrier doesn’t have enough oil. People who produce less sebum are often prone to dryness; however, external factors, like harsh weather, can also trigger (or worsen) dry, itchy skin. Showering with super hot water, shaving improperly, and using harsh soaps that strip your skin’s natural moisture can also exacerbate dry skin on your legs (and elsewhere).

To manage dry skin on your thighs, calves, and knees, you’ll want to follow a routine that focuses on maintaining your skin’s natural moisture balance. Incorporating nourishing moisturizers into your routine can also help mitigate some of the uncomfortable side effects of dryness, like itching and flaking. Ahead, we’ll provide four simple tips to help improve the look and feel of dry skin on your legs. Read on for your Kiehl’s guide to achieving (and maintaining) soft, hydrated skin.

Tip #1:

Reach For a Non-Stripping Body Wash

When you lather up, do so with a mild body wash that won’t strip your skin’s natural moisture barrier. We recommend opting for a cleanser made for all skin types, like Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser. This foaming cleanser with aloe vera and glycerin washes away dirt and oil to leave skin feeling clean and comfortable. It’s available in four refreshing fragrances and can be used daily for fresh-feeling skin. If you’re concerned about sustainability, stock up on our one-liter refills, which use 81% less plastic than traditional single-use plastic packaging.

Creme de Corps Smoothing Oil-to-Foam Body Cleanser

For a more indulgent shower ritual, try Creme de Corps Smoothing Oil-to-Foam Body Cleanser. The lightweight oil cleanser is infused with a nourishing blend of emollients, including grapeseed oil and avocado oil. It emulsifies with water to create a fine foam that effectively washes away dirt and other impurities, leaving your skin feeling moisturized and supple.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: If you shave your legs, wash them first. Then, use a mild shaving gel or cream to lubricate your skin, which makes it easier to get a smooth, even shave. Learn more shaving tips in our article How To Prevent and Treat Razor Bumps.

Tip #2:

Exfoliate To Buff Away Dead, Dry Skin

While you don’t necessarily need to exfoliate every day, adding a scrub to your body care routine can help improve the feel of rough, flaky skin on your legs (and elsewhere). It can also make it easier to shave and limit the risk of developing shaving-related skin concerns, like razor burn or bumps (both of which are common problems for those who shave their legs regularly).

To exfoliate safely, we recommend starting with a mild body scrub made with plenty of skin-friendly moisturizers, like our Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub. This formula with aloe vera, chamomile, and a blend of crushed apricot seeds helps exfoliate without over-drying the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types (even sensitive skin) and can be used daily to help smooth your skin and leave it primed for moisture.

For men’s dry skin, we recommend Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap. This bar soap for all skin types thoroughly cleanses while helping to slough off dead skin cells. It’s uniquely formulated for men’s thicker skin and can be used daily to help alleviate roughness and energize fatigued skin.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: Try to limit your showers to under 10 minutes and use lukewarm water instead of hot water whenever possible. Hot water leeches moisture from your skin and can exacerbate dryness, leaving your skin feeling tight and itchy.

Tip #3:

Apply a Lightweight Moisturizer Every Day

The most effective way to alleviate dryness is to restore your skin’s natural moisture. Thankfully, you don’t need a specific product—any body lotion or cream will work well as a leg moisturizer. Try a lightweight lotion, like our cult-classic Creme de Corps. This longtime Kiehl’s favorite stars nourishing cocoa butter and olive-derived squalane. It smoothes on easily to moisturize dry skin, leaving it feeling softer, smoother, and non-greasy.

Alternatively, try Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion, which contains fairly-traded argan oil. The creamy formula absorbs easily to hydrate and smooth rough skin texture. The antioxidant-rich formula also helps protect against free radicals that can irritate or damage your skin.

For added skin-softening benefits, you can layer your body lotion over a lightweight body oil, like Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil. This unique body oil spray hydrates and nourishes dry skin without leaving behind a greasy or oily residue. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used alone or in combination with other body moisturizers for smoother, more supple skin.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: For lasting hydration, apply body lotion to your legs immediately after showering while your skin is still damp (and do it every day—not just when your legs feel tight or dry).

Tip #4:

Layer Moisturizers For Added Hydration

Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas

For lingering dryness that doesn’t resolve with regular application of body lotion, we recommend breaking out the big guns. Specifically, rich, ointment-like creams and oils. Our Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas is ideal for this purpose. The thick treatment contains a blend of heavy-duty emollient moisturizers, including shea butter, avocado oil, and cocoa butter. It’s uniquely formulated to help soothe and soften parched skin, so it’s great for rougher areas, like dry knees.

Because it’s so rich, a little goes a long way: Apply a small amount to areas of concern and massage it in gently, allowing several minutes for the formula to absorb into your skin. If desired, you can also apply a thicker layer before bed and let it soak in overnight for a DIY dry skin mask (just be sure to cover the area with socks or pajama pants before going to bed to prevent the cream from rubbing off onto your sheets).

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