What the best body lotion has
- Humectants such as glycerin, panthenol and hyaluronic acid. These hydrating ingredients draw
moisture to the skin's outer layer.
ingredients such as petrolatum (the most
effective occlusive), lanolin, mineral oil and waxes. These create a
barrier over the skin to lock in moisture.
- Emollients such as
silicones (dimethicone and cyclomethicone), jojoba oil and glyceryl
stearate. Emollients fill the gaps between cell clusters, making the skin
feel soft, smooth and pliable.
skin-repairing ingredients such as
ceramides and cholesterol -- components that healthy skin produces
naturally -- can help restore the skin barrier without irritation.
fragrances or dyes. These can irritate skin. So can
some natural ingredients, such as plant oils. All of our Best Reviewed
picks are fragrance- and dye-free.
moisturization. The best body lotions keep the
skin hydrated all day, with no need to reapply. Still, experts at the American Academy of Dermatology recommend applying moisturizer (or some form of
treatment, such as sunscreen) to your skin every 12 hours.
affordable price. Body lotion is meant to be
applied all over the body, every day -- hard to manage if a tiny tube
costs an arm and a leg. The best drugstore body lotions are so effective,
experts say there's absolutely no reason to pay more.
pleasant feel. The best all-over body lotions
and creams feel light, silky and greaseless. More intense creams and
ointments for severely dry skin (such as cracked heels) may feel greasier due
to their higher petrolatum content, but are still easy to spread and won't
- Pump or
tube packaging. This keeps air and bacteria from
degrading the moisturizer, cosmetics expert Paula Begoun says -- unlike
jar packaging, which allows air and bacteria from your fingers into the
moisturizer every time you use it. All of our Best Reviewed picks are
available in pump or tube packaging, either standard or as an option.
- The right
pH balance. Body lotions with certain
ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acid for exfoliation, require the right
pH balance for maximum effectiveness. Plus, a body lotion that's too
acidic or too alkaline can interrupt the skin's natural pH balance (ideally around 5.5), breaking down the skin's natural protective barrier
and contributing to dry, flaky skin or visible signs of aging -- the very
issues you're trying to avoid by using body lotion in the first place.
Know before you go
How dry is
your skin? If your skin isn't very dry, all you need is a
good everyday body lotion or cream (see our Body Lotion section for the
top picks). If your skin is really parched, or for severe problem areas such as
cracked heels, you'll need a more heavy-duty cream or ointment (see our section
on Lotions for Very Dry Skin).
Does your skin
become extra dry in the winter? Some users find that they need a
richer, thicker body lotion to combat the dryness and chapping that often comes
with cold temperatures. If your hands and other areas of skin tend to become
chapped and cracked in the winter, you'll want an ointment or thick cream with
occlusives to protect your skin and seal in moisture.
Is your skin
flaky or bumpy? An exfoliating lotion can remove dead skin cells
to smooth your skin, and attract moisture to keep it smooth. Exfoliating
lotions are often recommended to treat keratosis pilaris, the bumpy "chicken
skin" that often appears on the backs of the upper arms and thighs,
although some users find that certain standard body lotions also work to
alleviate this condition.
necessarily need a "baby" lotion. Body lotion
for babies and young children should be fragrance-free, dye-free and gentle,
experts say -- just like the best lotions for adults. Reviewers report getting
good results for infants and small children from several of our best-reviewed
products, though they aren't specifically marketed toward babies or children.
the best body lotions at the drugstore. Every top-rated body lotion, cream
and ointment in this report is widely available at drugstores -- and reasonably
priced, too. No expensive boutique brands made the cut.
lotion immediately after showering, on skin that's still slightly damp. This provides
water for the lotion's humectants to attract into your skin, and for its
occlusives to seal in. Any moisturizer will always work better on slightly damp
skin, experts say.
Do you have skin
cracks or open wounds? Conditions like eczema can lead to
cracked -- and even bleeding --skin. Some body lotions cause a temporary
burning or stinging sensation when applied to open areas of skin, but that
doesn't mean they don't work. It's a small tradeoff for a body lotion that
offers relief from uncomfortable, itchy eczema and promotes healing, users say.