A slew of products target very dry skin, including creams, butters, balms and ointments. All of these formulas are much thicker than daily lotions, and they include ingredients like petrolatum, shea butter or lanolin, which lock in moisture and act as a protective barrier for the skin. Creams are recommended for users with especially dry, cracked skin or skin conditions like eczema, or for problem areas like elbows, hands and feet. These products come with price tags ranging from more than $100 to under $10, and while the best creams are slightly more expensive than lotions, there is little evidence that quality improves much over $20-$30.
Both professional reviewers and users like Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy (*Est. $9 for 3.5 oz.) . Hailed as a solid multipurpose lotion, it can soften and moisturize all areas of the body, as well as soothe sunburns, irritated skin and diaper rashes. Its main ingredient is petrolatum, which serves as a barrier to protect skin from moisture loss. Paula Begoun, beauty expert and author of the book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," says that Aquaphor is "a gentle formula that does a formidable job of protecting skin that is dry, cracked or irritated."
Editors of Allure magazine select Aquaphor Healing Ointment in the "Cheap Thrills" category of their 2010 annual beauty awards. Not only do they recommend it for severely dry skin, but also for cosmetic uses such as sealing split ends, moisturizing lips and adding sheen to eyelids. They say it is an essential in every makeup artist's kit. Editors of TotalBeauty.com award Aquaphor Healing Ointment the Reader's Choice award in their 2011 annual beauty awards. Aquaphor receives more than 250 user reviews and averages over 9 stars out of 10 at the beauty products review site. They say it's effective everywhere -- from dry, cracked heels to chapped lips and face.
User reviews at MakeupAlley.com, Drugstore.com and Amazon.com are also overwhelmingly positive. With more than 1,000 reviews and extremely high ratings, Aquaphor users here echo the previously mentioned sentiments of other sites -- the productive works well, and works well for a huge variety of purposes. The only negatives users point out is that the product can be a bit messy, and takes some time to absorb into skin.
Vermont's Original Bag Balm (*Est. $9 for 10 oz.) , St. Ives Intensive Healing Body Cream (*Est. $7 for 7.5 oz.) and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (*Est. $15 for 16 oz.) are additional examples of highly rated, inexpensive drugstore moisturizers. Vermont's Original Bag Balm is a multipurpose ointment, like Aquaphor, and it was originally formulated for moisturizing dairy cows' udders. It is a very basic, fragrance-free formula with only three ingredients (petrolatum, lanolin and 8-hydroxiquinoline sulfate). It receives remarkably positive reviews from MakeupAlley.com and Drugstore.com, where it is among the highest-ranked moisturizers. However, users also say that it can be messy and greasy and it has a medicinal, unpleasant smell. Bag Balm does not receive any professional dermatologist or expert reviews.
Conversely, St. Ives Intensive Healing Body Cream receives multiple professional recommendations, but doesn't earn much recognition with users. The product is sold both as a hand cream (in a 3 oz. bottle) and a body cream (in a 7.5 oz. bottle), and while the two formulas are the same, users may find the larger bottle difficult to find. St. Ives receives the honor of a Paula's Pick from beauty expert Paula Beguon thanks to its emollient and antioxidant ingredients. It was also selected as one of America's Healthiest Buys in 2010 by Health magazine, where the judging criteria are not clear though seem to be based on effectiveness and value. St. Ives Intensive Healing Body Cream receives a handful of reviews on Drugstore.com as both a hand cream and a body cream, and users seem very satisfied overall. It receives no 1- or 2-star reviews, and even the 3- and 4-star reviews find little fault with this formula, however, St. Ives still remains relatively untested; it cannot compete with the overwhelmingly popular Aquaphor Healing Ointment.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is a thicker version of the Best Reviewed CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, and also does well in reviews. Beauty expert Paula Beguon evaluates the ingredients in CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and awards it her highest rating, Paula's Choice. She refers to is as "a basic but thoughtfully formulated fragrance-free body moisturizer," and lauds the product's glycerin, ceramides and cholesterol. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream also receives positive reviews from Drugstore.com, MakeupAlley.com and Amazon.com. Users at these sites say that the product isn't greasy like many creams and ointments, so CeraVe may be a good option for users who want something quick-absorbing for daytime use.
Several specialty products also receive positive reviews from our sources. These products span a wide range of prices, and include Body Shop Body Butter (*Est. $18 for 7 oz.) , Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter (*Est. $35 for 8 oz.) and La Mer The Body Crme (*Est. $130 for 6.7 oz.) . The Body Shop Body Butter is a favorite among users but receives little attention from professionals. TotalBeauty.com editors recognize it as the Reader's Choice for Best Body Oil/Cream in the 2011 TotalBeauty.com Awards. Contributors to MakeupAlley.com also peg The Body Shop Body Butter as a favorite, showing immense product loyalty -- one user purports to have used the product for 10 years. Both sites' reviews refer, however, to the entire line of Body Butters, of which there are dozens. While each reviewer typically mentions his or her favorite, the wide variety of products available makes it difficult to pin down a specific best.
At a slightly higher price tag, Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter is selected as the 2011 TotalBeauty.com Awards Editors' Pick for Best Body Oil/Cream. "Skin feels silky soft for hours and the honey scent is sweet but not overpowering," the reviewer writes. Redbook magazine also selects Kiehl's Creme de Corps as one of 2011's best beauty products. One reviewer says that the product absorbed quickly and smelled great. Adding credibility to this pick, Redbook provides a good deal of information about its selection process, including the names and credentials of all of its reviewers. While there's little evidence that this product works significantly better than less expensive options, it seems clear that it does work. For users who really love the scent or don't mind spending more, Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter is a reasonable option, though it is not a ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed selection.
Finally, La Mer The Body Creme comes in as the most expensive body cream our sources reviewed. Editors of Allure magazine select it in their annual beauty awards, but while reviews of many products are very helpful, entries on the "Best Splurges" are often difficult to decipher. It's unclear who picked them, whether they're actually any better than the products on the non-splurge list, and how many products were considered in what categories. Allure editors offer just a one-sentence review of the product, stating only that they can "grasp why some celebs practically bathe in La Mer." Similarly, editors of BellaSugar.com review La Mer The Body Creme, saying that it works very well, but at an exorbitant price. Even the reviewer says that she wouldn't buy the product herself. Solidifying this sentiment, Paula Beguon of Beautypedia.com gives La Mer The Body Creme a low score of Average/Overpriced, meaning that the product may work, but it does not merit the high price. According to Beguon, "You absolutely don't need to spend this much money for a well-formulated body moisturizer -- there are brilliant ones for a fraction of the cost."