Experts say skin on every part of the body needs to be cleansed, exfoliated, moisturized and protected from the sun. They also agree that some ingredients can help to promote healthier and softer skin. Good skin moisturizers should include water-binding agents, which attract moisture (such as glycerin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, etc.); antioxidants, which prevent damage caused by environmental factors like sun and smog; and anti-irritants, which are compounds to soothe inflammation (such as aloe, green tea, vitamin C). Experts also say that a good lotion doesn't have to be expensive. In our research, we found several drugstore brands that are rated just as highly as expensive boutique brands.
Price aside, the ingredients in body lotions can significantly vary. For instance, products with a thicker consistency, (super moisturizing, emollient lotions that contain large amounts of petrolatum, shea butter or lanolin) are ideal for use during dry, winter months or by those with severely dry skin. Conversely, experts say lightweight body lotions (that contain compounds like aloe, jojoba or glycolic acids) are better suited for consumers with normal-to-oily skin.
For a daily, lightweight body lotion, experts point to CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion (*Est. $13 for 12 oz.) . Dermatologists and users agree that this lotion is great for all skin types, and it is non-greasy and absorbs quickly. The most valuable review for CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion comes from InStyle magazine. For three consecutive years (2009, 2010 and 2011), the editors of InStyle have named CeraVe the best lotion of the year in their annual feature "Best Beauty Buys." Two dermatologists -- Beverly Hills-based Lori Hobbs and New York City-based Melanie Grossman -- explain that CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion's key ingredients, ceramides and humectants, allow the lotion to work all day, slowly releasing moisture over time. Grossman states, "It goes on light, isn't oily, and stays put all day."
Beautypedia.com founder, Paula Beguon, seconds these sentiments. She awards the lotion her top honors, though she adds few additional details. Users at Drugstore.com, Amazon.com and MakeupAlley.com also add their seal of approval. Reviewers describe the product working for eczema, acne-prone skin and everything in between. The number of available reviews varies from site to site but totals nearly 500, with remarkably high rankings at each site. Many other lotions are favored by users with one specific skin type, but CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion is extremely adaptable. Thanks to its versatility and professional recommendations, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion makes the ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed list.
However, plenty of competing products also fare well in both consumer and professional reviews. Notably, Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion (*Est. $9 for 14 oz.) does well in consumer reviews on Drugstore.com, MakeupAlley.com and TotalBeauty.com. Gold Bond scores only "Very Good" on Beautypedia.com. Beguon explains that, while Gold Bond does offer several effective moisturizers, it doesn't have more advanced moisturizing ingredients like ceramides.
Dermatologists recommend frequent exfoliation in order to remove dead skin cells, brighten skin tone and battle a variety of skin problems like eczema and acne. Abrasive body scrubs and washes are one means of exfoliating skin, but lotions with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and other exfoliants can achieve the same results in one easy step. AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid, among others.
AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Body Lotion (*Est. $16 for 7.9 oz.) is specifically formulated to exfoliate and moisturize dry, flaky skin. Dermatologists quoted in WebMD and Allure magazine articles recommend AmLactin. Specifically, David A. Colbert, MD, of the New York Dermatology Group in New York City, tells WebMD for their article suggesting lighter alternatives to heavy winter creams that he recommends AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Body Lotion, specifically for dry legs. In the Allure article, dermatologists discuss solutions for common skin problems. Using a lotion, such as AmLactin 12% twice a day is recommended as an alternative to prescription medications for healing keratosis pilaris, red bumps that typically appear along the arms and thighs. In both cases, the effective and high concentration of lactic acid, an AHA, found in AmLactin 12% is cited.
However, Paula Begoun of Beautypedia.com contends that ammonium hydroxide, which balances the pH of this product, prevents the lactic acid from acting as an effective exfoliator. While Beguon presents a convincing argument, her conclusions are not based on actual testing; they are based on the science that has been reported about the product's ingredient list. However, the multiple dermatologists' recommendations for this product – specifically praising it for its excellent exfoliating capabilities -- make us wonder what the difference is between academic studies and real-world use.
Users at Drugstore.com agree that the product works wonders. They say the product has effectively alleviated keratosis pilaris, dry and rough skin. Many users say the product smells bad and is somewhat expensive, but neither is enough to keep them from using it -- a testament to its effectiveness. Some suggest applying the lotion at night, which makes the smell less of a nuisance and allows the lotion to soak in and exfoliate overnight. Thanks to dermatologist and user endorsements, AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Body Lotion makes the ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed list.
A few other daily exfoliating lotions appear on our radar, but none with as many positive reviews. Like AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin Five Moisturizing Body Lotion (*Est. $14 for 8 oz.) boasts lactic acid as its main ingredient. This lotion was selected by Real Simple magazine as one of the best budget moisturizers; though it is only slightly less expensive than AmLactin 12%, it is still much pricier than non-exfoliating lotions. Real Simple says only that Lac-Hydrin removes flakes and has a non-greasy texture. Without further support from other reviewers, however, this is not enough to earn Lac-Hydrin a top spot in this report.
Gold Bond Ultimate Restoring Skin Therapy Lotion (*Est. $11 for 13 oz.) receives a rating of "Paula's Pick" from Beautypedia.com. Beguon explains that, though this lotion doesn't include AHAs, the concentration of urea is high enough that the lotion encourages the shedding of dead skin cells. Because this is the only strong recommendation of this product available, it, too, does not receive a ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed pick.