Ever wonder if you can use face products on your body — and body products on your face? Maybe you’ve noticed that many of the products you use on your face share ingredients with the ones you use on your body. If they're made of the same elements, can’t you use them all interchangeably? Well, the answer is a bit of a yes and no — as long as you understand a few basics about your skin, and the ingredients in your skincare. Let's break it down.
Differences between face and body skin
Your face and body skin may share the same genes, so to speak, but they're more like siblings than identical twins. We’ve outlined all the details here — but basically, facial skin is thinner and more delicate, with a higher density of sebaceous glands. Meanwhile, body skin is thicker, sturdier, and equipped to handle a bit of roughness.
These differences impact how each area responds to skincare ingredients. That means facial products require a gentler touch, while body products often contain higher concentrations of active ingredients to penetrate that thicker skin. Understanding this contrast is crucial to putting together an effective skincare routine.
DO use facial products on your body
It’s a myth that you can’t use facial products on your body. Now that you understand that your body skin is built a bit tougher, it makes sense that anything suitable for your face can also work below the neck.
Facial skincare products containing active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C and glycolic acid are all suitable for applying to your body. Keep in mind, however, that skincare formulated for your face might not be strong enough to be super effective on your body. This is particularly true if you're trying to treat a skin condition like body acne.
Try: When you experience a random body breakout, sub in SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser for your regular body wash.
Dr. Pimple Popper's Face & Body Product Picks
Face products that work well on the body
Certain face products — particularly those with higher concentrations or combinations of active ingredients — work well on body skin, too. Acne spot treatments labeled “maximum strength” are especially effective on pimples, no matter where they pop up. Serums, toners and treatments containing multiple types of exfoliants or antioxidants tend to be effective for both face and body. If you like the results of a facial skincare product, it can’t hurt to try it on your body skin, as well.
Try: For pimples anywhere, apply SLMD Skincare BP Acne Spot Treatment, Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment, or Salicylic Acid Pimple Patches. AHA/BHA Swipes clear pores and refine skin on both face and body.
DON’T use body products on your face
Now, let's turn the tables. Remember, body products are formulated to tackle thicker skin and more persistent concerns. The higher concentrations of active ingredients in body treatments can be too intense for facial skin, leading to irritation and discomfort.
Of course, everyone’s skin is unique, so think of this as more of a friendly caution than a hard-and-fast rule. If you’ve got a body product that you absolutely love, it’s OK to try it on your face, unless the label says otherwise. A few days of patch testing can help you figure out whether your body product is too strong — before you slather it all over your face.
So how can you tell if your body skincare isn’t a good match above the neck? Look for these signs:
Dr. Lee's Last Word
It’s totally fine to use face products on your body — just know that you may run out of them faster! But if you’re dealing with a skin concern like acne or keratosis pilaris, you’ll get better results with products formulated to work on tougher body skin. Typically, I advise patients not to use body products on your face, because they can cause irritation or clog pores.