Body lotion benefits your legs, knees, arms, butt, and torso in much the same way that a daily moisturizer benefits the skin on your face. According to dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, “It keeps skin smooth and supple, and maintains a healthy skin barrier.” Contrary to popular belief, applying lotion is more about protecting your skin against dryness than treating it. “A lot of people think moisturizers bring moisture into the skin, but their main function is actually to prevent water loss,” explains Doctorly’s Dr. Muneeb Shah. Keeping your skin hydrated in this way is also essential to maintaining youthful-looking skin and protecting against signs of aging. “Think about your favorite leather shoes — if you leave them in the sun or elements and never treat them with leather conditioner, they will begin to crack and look much older,” says Karen Fernandez, lead aesthetician at SkinSpirit spas. “But when treated properly, your leather can look healthy, soft and ‘younger’ for much longer. Skin is very similar, so using body lotion really helps preserve our youthful skin.”
Much like the serums, creams, and moisturizers you use on your face, body lotions come in a wide variety of formulations meant to target specific issues like dryness, loss of elasticity, acne, eczema, and keratosis pilaris. With that in mind, we asked 14 dermatologists and skin-care experts for their body-lotion recommendations for a variety of skin types. No matter your skin concern, though, dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says, “For all skin types, moisturizers ideally contain three components: humectants, emollients, and occlusives.” Humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin) retain water to hydrate the skin, emollients (like squalane and ceramides) improve skin texture and appearance, and occlusives (like oils and waxes) seal in the moisture. The good news is that, according to Shah, drugstore brands will do the trick: “I exclusively use stuff that’s pretty inexpensive.” Below, are 32 lotions packed with these ingredients that will help you get your skin as close to baby smooth as possible. Most are relatively affordable, but our experts also recommended some higher-end options that will make your daily routine feel a little more luxurious.
On that note, remember it’s ideal to apply body lotion when wet — i.e., when you’re hanging out in your towel — to better seal in the moisture. “The best time is as soon as you get out of the shower, while skin is still damp and best able to absorb your moisturizer,” says Shah. “That’s when you’re going to lose the most water to the environment: within three minutes of getting out of the shower.”
Best overall body lotion
To combat even the most extreme cases of dry skin, like eczema, experts tell us you should seek out formulations rich in ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Melanie Palm — the medical director at Art of Skin MD — explains that ceramides (or, cholesterol-derived fat) help seal the skin barrier to keep in moisture, while hyaluronic acid is known to carry 1,000 times its weight in water, so your skin stays extra hydrated. Seven of our experts pointed us to this CeraVe lotion, which contains both. It’s fragrance-free so it’s well-suited for sensitive skin types, and it doesn’t feel sticky or heavy on skin. As cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green sums it up: “CeraVe is the best overall body lotion. It is safe for all skin types and packed with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and humectants to keep the most sensitive skin hydrated.”
Best (less expensive) overall body lotion
Boca Raton dermatologist Jeffrey Fromowitz says this Eucerin dry-skin lotion is another highly effective choice. Dr. Shah agrees, calling it a “great, underrated product.” It’s not only moisturizing (with added ceramides), but also gently exfoliates with some alpha-hydroxy acids. Green also recommended Eucerin as a high-quality drugstore lotion with excellent ingredients. The difference between Eucerin and CeraVe is mainly that CeraVe has moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid while Eucerin uses urea to lock in moisture. And as for the price difference, it’s pretty slight (about $5), but enough to add up to sizable savings if you’re using it consistently over time.
Best body lotion spray
For ease of application, Dr. Shah recommends this spray-on lotion from Aquaphor, which will help you moisturize hard-to-reach areas like the middle of your back. “It’s a pretty unique method of delivery and pretty nice to apply to the skin as well,” he says. Hypoallergenic and free of any irritating fragrances, the spray is intensive and designed to especially help dry and rough skin. For those who find themselves in need of even more relief, Dr. Shah recommends using this spray as part of a multistep moisturizing routine: “You could use a cream-based lotion like CeraVe and follow it with an ointment spray like this for double the effect.”
Best body lotion for dry skin
When it comes to dry skin, “lotions” actually aren’t recommended because they’re usually not thick enough to cure your cracked, flaky skin. Instead, “look more for creams and ointments,” recommends Dr. Shah. This CeraVe cream — which is much thicker than the lotion we mentioned above — came recommended to us by five dermatologists when we asked them about the best body lotions for dry skin. Because it’s fragrance-free and chock-full of hydrating ingredients, like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, it’ll work for even the most sensitive of skin. As Dr. Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, puts it, “It’s just a good staple; what’s not to love?” If you have dry and acne-prone skin, this is a good option for you as well. Dr. King explains, “It’s noncomedogenic so it won’t clog pores and contribute to acne, and its skin-barrier-nourishing ingredients help to protect the skin from the potentially irritating effects of anti-acne medications.”
Best body lotion (that you can also use on your face)
If you like your skin-care and body care routine to be as simple as possible, you can rely on this moisturizer from head to toe. It’s a favorite of board-certified dermatologist and custom skin-care brand Docent’s medical adviser, Dr. Farhaad Riyaz, because it’s natural and absorbs into the skin quickly without mineral oil or fillers. He explains that those ingredients “give the illusion of hydration by forming an occlusive film over the skin, but can thin skin over time.” Instead, this formula is packed with “shea butter and natural oils with essential fatty acids and antioxidants that help protect and restore dry, aging skin.” He adds that “the shea butter, avocado oil and sesame seed oil have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and nourishing fatty acids that smooth, heal, and protect against free radical damage and the environment, helping maintain healthy moisturized skin.” Riyaz says this will work for all skin types but would be “ideal for stressed or compromised skin” as it will heal and soothe skin that’s irritated.
Best body lotions for eczema
“People with eczema have very allergenic skin, so they tend to react to a lot of ingredients,” explains Dr. Shah. “They should avoid fragrances, and instead of using lotions and gels, go for more creams and ointments.” He adds that people with eczema have “abnormally low ceramide levels,” so they should look for moisturizers that contain ceramides for a bit of a boost. Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, pointed us to this Aveeno tub that relies on a combination of ceramide and colloidal oatmeal for curbing eczema-related itchiness, but it’ll also work for people who are itchy from regular old dry skin. Aveeno reviewers say this soothing balm is a godsend, with one noting that it got her off “steroid-based sprays and creams,” and another praising the fact that “this doesn’t leave a slime trail in my husband’s wake. Plus he’s not waking me up multiple times during the night scratching his feet and hands. This balm kept me from a divorce.” And if in, say, the summer months, you don’t need something quite as heavy-duty, then try the cream version instead, which came recommended to us by three different dermatologists for eczema.
Dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar says she’s always suffered from eczema, which is why she loves Avéne’s Lipid-Replenishing cream. “It nourishes, soothes, and calms dry, itchy skin prone to atopic dermatitis and eczema,” she says. “It rebalances our microbiome while supporting skin’s defense system for a healthy skin. It’s also safe and amazing for the entire family, whether they have eczema or not.”
Best body lotion for itchy skin
Even if you don’t have eczema, you can experience itchy skin for a number of reasons. “Dehydration, dryness, irritants, and insect bites can cause skin to be extremely itchy,” says Aguilar. For those times, she recommends Sarna lotion. “It calms and relieves uncomfortably itchy skin,” she says. The menthol in the lotion provides a soothing effect, and Amazon reviewers recommend keeping it in the fridge for an extra cooling sensation.
Best body lotion for inflamed dry skin
Sometimes intensely dry skin can cause inflammation, which, for obvious reasons, can be very uncomfortable. To soothe any irritation, three dermatologists recommend this EltaMD cream. “It has dimethicone, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, but it also has squalane oil and mango-seed butter as well as niacinamide — all of which focus on inflammation,” explains Dr. Melissa K. Levin, the founder of Entière Dermatology. While it’s a bit pricey, she says it’s completely worth it.
Best body lotion for acne-prone skin
And because you want your body lotion to be hydrating but not exacerbate any body acne, two experts — Jaliman and Waldorf — recommend CeraVe’s SA lotion because it contains salicylic acid, an exfoliant that’s been clinically proven to help with acne. It’s also fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and noncomedogenic, which means that it won’t irritate the skin and is specifically formulated not to clog pores. Some reviewers say they’ve seen noticeable improvements and smoother skin in just a few days.
Best body lotions for keratosis pilaris
For conditions like keratosis pilaris — which consist of “plugs” of cells in hair follicles, often on the upper arms and thighs — exfoliation is key. Fromowitz says you should look for creams that include exfoliants like lactic, salicylic, or glycolic acid, and prescription-grade products for more severe cases. This AmLactin lotion that Waldorf suggests contains lactic acid (which you might recognize if you’re a Sunday Riley fan). Incidentally, the Eucerin on this list also contains lactic as well as glycolic acid, so you could start there and try this if you want something stronger.
Heather Downes, dermatologist and founder of Lake Forest Dermatology in Illinois, also recommends a lotion for keratosis pilaris. Her pick, DerMend Alpha + Beta Hydroxy Moisturizer, has glycolic and salicylic acids, which help exfoliate and unclog pores. Downes tells her patients to apply it daily to arms and legs and says that “one week later your skin will feel silky smooth.” The prices of the DerMend and AmLactin version are basically the same, and the only noticeable difference in the formulations is that DerMend has niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that helps reduce pore size and retain moisture, which might be helpful in soothing sensitive skin.
This is the body lotion sidekick to the body scrub derms recommended in our keratosis pilaris story. Similar to the above lotions, this one contains acids (like lactic acid and AHAs) to help exfoliate and smooth the skin, but it’s free from salicylic acid if your skin is sensitive to that ingredient. Additionally, it’s packed with colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, which Dr. King says support the skin barrier.
Best body lotions for sensitive skin
Many people have year-round sensitivities to certain ingredients. But in the winter months, blasting radiators and hot showers can sap the moisture out of anybody’s skin, making it more sensitive and extra thirsty. Green, King, and Engelman recommend this Cetaphil lotion for irritated and sensitive skin, which can manifest as redness, breakouts, and hives. It has sweet almond oil in it, which is “an emollient that softens and anecdotal evidence suggests that it may help to rejuvenate damaged skin,” says King. It also contains ceramides and essential fatty acids, which Green says “create a barrier that protects skin from environmental stressors, while replenishing lost moisture.” Engelman likes that it’s a gentle, fragrance-free, and noncomedogenic moisturizer from a brand with a great reputation. As the seasons change, you might want to swap your lightweight body lotion for this richer, more nourishing formula.
Also for sensitive skin, Vanicream came recommended by Downes, Engelman, and Morgan Rabach, dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical. Downes told us that she recommends Vanicream because it’s hypoallergenic for those with sensitivities to fragrances and preservatives. “It’s also inexpensive,” says Downes, who stocks it in her office because she recommends it to patients so often. Rabach calls it “truly an amazing product,” saying that “it’s extremely thick and moisturizing, and one of the best creams for people with very sensitive skin or eczema because its formulation is free of dyes, lanolin, fragrance, parabens, and formaldehyde.”
If you have sensitive skin, but don’t want a cream, here’s a lotion option to try. It’s free from perfume, dyes, and irritants and it’s hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, but it is enriched with pro-vitamin B5, bisabolol, and allantoin to hydrate and soothe the skin, says King. This is technically made for the face, but King recommends using it all over.
Fernandez says her main concern when it comes to body lotion is finding one that can penetrate the skin. “Optimally, lotion will also deliver healthy oils, hydrators, and moisturizers to feed and rebalance the skin, but unfortunately skin is designed to keep things out, so it takes true science to design products that can get in,” she says. This lotion from Alba fortunately has figured it out. “It soaks in well and feels balancing to the skin. It provides the hydration and lipids — but not too much,” Fernandez says. “ It’s not too greasy or thick.” It’s also unscented, which is perfect for sensitive skin.
Best nongreasy body lotion
If your skin tends to be oily even in the dead of winter or you abhor the slimy feeling that sometimes comes with applying body lotion, Jaliman recommends looking for products that contain aloe and cucumber because “they are moisturizing and great for irritated skin without being too heavy.” This one by Suave, which Jaliman says is “light in texture and nongreasy,” contains both.
Best extremely thick body lotion
If your skin is super-dehydrated, Aguilar recommends Kiki Kreme. It’s a super-thick body butter made with just organic butters and oils. “Its thick consistency keeps my skin hydrated even when I feel so dehydrated that nothing can relieve it,” she says. The company slogan is “from belly to baby and beyond” as “it’s safe for pregnant bellies, newborns, or anyone in the family who needs clean and gentle but a rich creamy layer of protection,” Aguilar adds. It can help prevent stretch marks on your growing bump, help with baby rashes, or even work as a beard oil or to treat dry, cracked feet.
Best lightweight body cream
Really dry skin needs the thick consistency of a cream, but not everyone enjoys that heavy feeling on their skin. This is a cream, but King promises it has a light texture, while still delivering the ingredients your skin needs: “Glycerin hydrates the skin and petrolatum, fatty acids and dimethicone lock in that moisture and protect the skin barrier,” she says.
Best anti-aging body lotion
Though it’s pricey (at least $100 more than the other products on this list), Engelman swears by this body lotion from West Coast beauty brand Augustinus Bader (we included it in our list of things to buy before they sell out back in July). Like the Augustinus Bader face creams, which have a significant cult following of aestheticians and celebs, this newly released cream also uses stem-cell technology, amino acids, and high-grade vitamins to jump-start the skin’s natural renewal and repair process. In addition it contains Shea butter to deliver intense moisture and protect your skin’s natural barrier, while vitamins A and E combined with anti-inflammatory Brazilian candeia oil help firm skin and reduce the appearance of stretch marks and fine lines.
Best anti-aging body lotion to use at night
Because this fast-absorbing body lotion contains retinol it can increase sun sensitivity, so you’ll want to let it do its nourishing and firming while you sleep rather than during the day. When it comes to night creams, our experts tell us to look to retinols and gentle chemical exfoliants that will help increase cell turnover and reverse any environmental damage caused during the day, for renewed, softer-looking skin. Replenix is a routine favorite of dermatologists, and came recommended by Jaliman for the retinol and hyaluronic acid in it that will reduce the appearance of fine lines and plump up skin.
The best body lotion for wrinkles (and more)
Dr. Riyaz says the alpha-hydroxy acids, safflower oil, chamomile, antioxidant vitamin E, and panthenol in this formula will help diminish lines and wrinkles as well as improve uneven skin tone.
Best body lotion for skin firming
If you notice your skin has lost some of its elasticity, celebrity aesthetician Vicki Morav recommends this contouring lotion, which she says is “great for textures that lack firmness and hydration.” It’s said to improve the microcirculation and regeneration of the skin, which rejuvenates the cells and leads to smoother and firmer-looking skin.
Best body oils in a lotion
If you love the luxurious experience of applying a body oil, but find them to never quite stack up to more creamy textures in the hydration they deliver, here is the perfect compromise.“This lotion is great because it has argan oil in it,” says Jaliman of this lightweight oil-based lotion. According to her, argan oil is the Goldilocks of carrier oils: not too heavy and not too light. So it’s suitable for all skin types. This lotion is rich in omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and linoleic acids, ingredients that Jaliman tells us “work to lightly moisturize your skin, soften dry patches, and help with rosacea.”
This is another oil-packed body lotion. It has safflower oil, squalane, and macadamia nut oil, which Dr. Riyaz says is an ideal combination. “Safflower oil is a natural source of essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, which we tend to lose as we age, and squalane and macadamia oil are similar to the oil that is within the human body, which makes them highly compatible and therefore more readily absorbed for deep moisturizing,” he says. “It helps restore elasticity, making it suitable for those concerned with aging skin or anyone wanting smoother skin.”
Best scented body lotions
As with perfumes and colognes, when it comes to fragrant lotions everyone has their own taste, but some options tend to have more universal appeal than others, particularly when their aroma is neither too feminine or masculine. Which is why Engelman’s pick is this scented body lotion from Ellis Brooklyn. Her favorite scent is Verb, which she describes as “a gorgeous unisex citrus/sandalwood scent.” Scent aside, this body milk is made using moisturizing natural ingredients, including cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil, macadamia-nut oil, camellia oil, and aloe-leaf-juice extract (an ingredient with healing and anti-aging properties). It’s also made without a list of over 50 potentially harmful ingredients, including sulfates, parabens, and phthalates — and as unwelcome ingredients can sometimes go hand in hand with scented products, that’s another reason this one is a standout.
If you are into a sweeter fragrances, this coconut-scented lotion is a favorite of Fernandez’s when she “wants to feel spa-like and luxurious.” She adds, “It’s a 50-50 blend of oil and emollients, so it really feels hydrating and silky but also soaks in and does not leave a residue.” Specifically, the amino acids help with skin elasticity, skin tone, and overall health of the skin, while the shea butter helps with hydration.
Best body treatment
Alastin is more of a body anti-aging treatment than a lotion, but since keeping the skin hydrated is the No. 1 way for maintaining youthful-looking skin, as dehydration is one of the prime causes of aging, the two go hand in hand. “I think of this as ‘food’ for my skin and use it carefully,” says Fernandez. “Alastin Body Transform will help skin look its best and feed it important peptides.” And active ingredients also help skin shed damaged cells. If you have particularly dry skin, she recommends combining this with another moisturizer.
Best (less expensive) body treatment
For about a quarter of the cost, this body treatment similarly replenishes skin cells. Copper micronutrients reverse damage to the cells while enzymes speed up the repair of sun-inflicted damage. According to Morav, a treatment like this will help address signs of aging, as well as damaged skin that lacks ideal texture and firmness.
Best fragrance-free body lotion
Dr. Shah also likes the simple, effective formula of Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost range, specifically the brand’s fragrance-free version. Because it’s a gel cream rather than an ointment, he describes Hydro Boost as a “really good option” for those who don’t suffer from particularly dry skin but still want to stay moisturized on a daily basis. In general, he adds, fragrance-free body lotions like this one are ideal for all skin types because there’s far less risk of allergic reactions or general irritation.
Best body lotion with added vitamins
Though he’s mostly loyal to the drugstore shelves, Dr. Shah admits that clean-skin-care brand Necessaire “makes some pretty cool body products,” such as this cult-favorite lotion with added vitamins B3, A, C, and E, as well as a blend of nourishing oils. The formula is fragrance-free to prevent irritation and contains a bunch of lipids and ceramides that he says “are really good for the skin.” Plus, we have to admit, it’ll look nice if you leave it out on the bathroom sink.
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