Protéger's Dermal Sérum Is Saving My Dry Skin This Winter

Praise God.

CLEAN SLATE: Protéger Dermal Sérum Is Saving My Skin This Winter

Proteger/ InStyle

I am living, breathing proof that it is possible to have oily skin on the face, yet ultra-dry skin on the body. While my legs can become so Sahara-dry they get unbearably itchy, my face is perennially glistening with that dewy finish that goes in and out of style. Yet this paradoxical setup has also taught me a lot about skincare. One of my favorite parts of my self-care regimen is to have hydrated, silky-smooth legs — and it goes without saying that they should not itch, which is a particular challenge on days when I shave. Thus, one of my most elaborate regimens as a beauty editor has become my post-shower body-care routine. Imagine my excitement when body products became one of the industry's buzziest beauty trends.

For years, I simply reached for a drugstore-bought smoothing Eucerin moisturizer that left my legs smooth to the touch. But on days that I shaved — which is essentially like dermaplaning  for the legs — I wanted to treat them to something a little more nutrient-rich and multi-tasking. I already knew that the treatment of my ultra-dry legs required fragrance-free hydration followed by an occlusive layer to keep moisture locked-in. Clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline, founder of KKT Consultants, pointed me in the direction of plant-based oils. "Use loads and loads of [plant-based oils]. People forget that true, long-term hydration is achieved by incorporating oils into your routine," she says. 

But post-shave, the already compromised moisture barrier (which helps keep moisture in but also irritants out) needed something anti-inflammatory to soothe my post-shave sensitivity,

In the interest of maximalism, I decided to separate these steps, ultimately deciding upon an anti-inflammatory serum to soothe, an oil blend to hydrate, and then a botanical balm to lock everything in. The best part is that each and every step of the way is bursting with added benefits. 

My current body serum is the Protéger Dermal Sérum, an indie company co-founded by model Peter Clarkson and his longtime friend JoLynn Henke. And trust me, it's one of best serums for dry skin. The formula contains soothing aloe leaf juice, organic arabica coffee seed extract, fractionated hyaluronic acid, and encapsulated vitamin C. "Your skin probably likes the aloe juice as it has great anti-inflammatory benefits," Koestline adds.

It was important to Clarkson that he created a product that could streamline his regimen by being worthy of both face and body. "In fact, it is a facial serum, we just flipped the notion that serums must be sold in one ounce containers," Clarkson says of the roughly seven ounce bottle. "We do so much else for our bodies: eat right, stretch, exercise — why leave out the skincare part?"

The filler-free formula is botanically-derived, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. Their decision to formulate this way has a sentimental backstory in honor of Henke's mother, a biodynamic gardener that loved having "spa days" with her daughter while living with ALS. "She needed a product that would nourish all of her skin, but she could not remain seated in her bathing chair for very long," Clarkson says. "She required a product that was fast-absorbing, breathable, and extremely hydrating." It was important to them that the product adhered to her needs and her planet-friendly values, donating three of their earnings to ALS research.

CLEAN SLATE: Protéger Dermal Sérum Is Saving My Skin This Winter


To shop: $115;

There is one more reason to consider shopping Protéger Dermal Serum this holiday season. Like myself, Clarkson and Henke are dog rescue fanatics. (Clarkson and I both have senior dogs that wear diapers!) When they received a shipment of the product's glass bottles that were scuffed and damaged — unfit to be sold on the shelves — they saw the opportunity to do some good rather than to waste the glass vessels. Starting in November 2022, Protéger began Rescue Bottles for 30% off, with 20% of proceeds going to the Save A Friend Animal Rescue in Costa Rica. "Rescue Bottles hit some bumps in the road en route to Protéger HQ, but it's the same five-star reviewed formula inside," says Clarkson, in a beautiful simile between rescue bottles and rescue pups. 

(Hint: For an even more dog-friendly regimen, sip a cup of Grounds & Hounds Foster Fuel coffee while you're at it, which donates to dog shelters, too.)

How I incorporate Protéger's Dermal Sérum into my routine

Step 1: Shave My Legs

I grab a fragrance free body wash like Skincando Combat Ready Shower Gel and shave with my favorite razor, Athena The Razor Kit. If you want to try a scrub for added smoothness and hydration, the gentlest option I hae found is the ultra-hydrating C & The Moon Malibu Made Body Scrub.

Step 2: Apply the Serum

After I get out of the shower, I towel off and reach for the Protéger Dermal Serum, trying to apply it while the pores are still relatively open from the steam. I always begin with my calves, where the skin is the most sensitive.

Step 3: Seal It in with Balm or Lotion

For an optional boost of hydration, I like to quickly apply a body oil blend before my lotion or balm. My favorites is MUTHA Body Oil, but Nature's Beauty Squalane Kakadu Plum Recovery Bath + Body Oil is a great affordable option.

Then comes the heavy-hitter to lock everything in. If it's nighttime and I don't mind a bit of a greasy residue, I slather on my holy grail balm, Skincando Combat Ready Balm, which I have bought and used up countless jars of. But if it's the daytime and I have to get dressed, I reach for the much-lighter but incredibly potent U Beauty The Super Body Hydrator as the final step. 

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.

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