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Best Body Lotion

By: Angela Stringfellow on January 22, 2018

Editor's Note:
For normal to dry skin, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is frequently recommended by dermatologists for its excellent emollient properties. Cetaphil Restoraderm Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer soothes dry, irritated and inflamed skin. For those with difficult-to-treat skin conditions like keratosis pilaris, CeraVe Renewing SA Cream exfoliates and smooths rough, bumpy skin -- even when other products have failed.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Skin type -- Normal Formulation -- Cream Fragrance free –- Yes

Best body lotion

A runaway favorite, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is simply the best all-over body moisturizer you can buy, experts say. It checks all the boxes: all-day intense moisture, a silky, greaseless feel, and a fragrance-free formula that's gentle enough for newborns. Plus, it includes valuable ingredients other lotions lack, including hyaluronic acid, cholesterol and ceramides -- all substances that healthy skin naturally produces to bind moisture and repair the skin.

Buy for $19.99
Cetaphil Restoraderm Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Skin type -- Dry Formulation -- Cream Fragrance free –- Yes

Best lotion for very dry skin

For extremely dry, eczema-prone skin, Cetaphil Restoraderm Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer contains helpful ingredients like allantoin that soothe irritated skin and emollients like shea butter and sunflower seed oil for restoring moisture. Together, these ingredients pack a powerful punch in a thick, rich cream that helps to repair the skin's natural barrier and combat dry, itchy skin. It also works well for users with normal skin.

Buy for $19.35
CeraVe Renewing SA Cream Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Skin type -- Dry, rough Formulation -- Cream Fragrance free -- Yes

Best exfoliating lotion

For bumpy, flaky skin commonly caused by difficult-to-treat conditions like keratosis pilaris, CeraVe Renewing SA Cream contains salicylic acid and the AHA derivative ammonium lactate, plus an ideal pH of 3.8 that enables those ingredients to exfoliate and smooth bumpy skin. With a rich, thick consistency, CeraVe Renewing SA Cream applies easily and leaves skin protected and feeling soft without leaving a greasy or sticky feeling behind.

Buy for $14.57

Types of Body Lotion

Body Lotions for Normal Skin

If your skin isn't excessively dry, a body lotion or cream can provide the right level of moisture to make it look and feel terrific. Body creams moisturize deeply -- and they absorb quickly and don't leave a greasy residue, making them a great choice for all-over moisturizing. Lotions are thinner and less moisturizing than creams. If your skin isn't very dry, or you prefer a lighter-feeling moisturizer, a body lotion may suffice.

Body Lotions for Very Dry Skin

If your skin is excessively dry, ointments are the most heavily moisturizing product. Petrolatum is often a main ingredient, so ointments can have a greasy look and feel. Moisturizing ointments can be used all over for super-dry skin, or on small areas such as cracked heels or a baby's diaper area. Some creams and lotions are also more moisturizing than others and may be a reasonable alternative if your skin falls somewhere in between normal and very dry.

Exfoliating Lotions

These lotions use ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to remove dead skin cells and attract moisture to the skin. Dermatologists and podiatrists often recommend exfoliating lotions to treat thickened, cracked skin on the feet, as well as keratosis pilaris ("chicken skin"), patches of tiny bumps that appear especially on the backs of the upper arms and thighs.

Keeping it simple

Wander the body lotion aisle at any drugstore, and you'll see an overwhelming array of body lotions -- most with equally overwhelming ingredient lists, and all promising to be the ultimate moisturizer. But getting down to basics, body lotion isn't really all that complicated. "We tend to think of moisturizers as hydration in a bottle—infusing the skin with outside moisture," experts at Wexler Dermatology say. "But the real strength of our body lotions is their sealant properties: keep moisture locked in." Dermatologists recommend applying body lotion while the skin is still damp after showering to seal in the moisture the skin has just absorbed during bathing.

Molly Wanner, MD, an expert in cosmetic dermatology and laser surgery with Massachusetts General Hospital, says that body lotions essentially mimic the skin's innate moisture. Most people do need to moisturize their skin, she says, because, "Our day to day lives can decrease our natural moisturizer." Everything from sun exposure to travel, aggressive cleansing and the typical aging process can hinder the skin's natural moisturizers and protection.

The good news? Our research revealed that some of the very best body lotions, creams and ointments are relatively affordable. Our Best Reviewed picks range from $15 to $18 for a good-sized bottle or jar, while other body lotions worth considering range from $8 to $20 -- and they're all easy to find at drugstores. And many can be found on sale for even less than the prices we saw when compiling this report.

Finding The Best Body Lotion
Our Sources
"Body Lotions and Creams"
"The Best Lotions for Most People"
3. Allure
"Best of Beauty: Body"

To find the best body lotions, we first studied professional tests. Beautypedia rates body lotions based on their ingredient lists and formulations. Editors at Wirecutter evaluate 10 popular body lotions and moisturizers in a head-to-head test, and editors at Allure spend months testing a variety of beauty products, including body lotions and creams, for their annual beauty awards. The Fashion Spot and InStyle talk to dermatologists and other experts for their recommendations on the best body lotions, and editors at Elle share their personal favorite body lotions and creams.

Often, the lotions that ace these tests and are mentioned frequently by dermatologists and beauty editors are already favorite standbys of typical users. To get a feel for how well body lotions work in real-world scenarios, as well as user feedback on factors like consistency, whether a lotion leaves a sticky or greasy residue, and how well lotions work to alleviate common skin concerns -- such as extra-dry skin or eczema, we evaluated consumer opinions across sites like TotalBeauty, MakeupAlley, Walmart, Walgreens and Amazon, where many body lotions have accumulated hundreds to thousands of user reviews.

The best body lotions

For a do-it-all body moisturizer, reviews say you simply can't beat CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (Est. $16 for 16 oz.). Dermatologists love it, and so do legions of well-moisturized fans at Amazon, Makeup Alley, Walgreens and Walmart. In fact, many reviewers note that it was recommended by their dermatologist.

"It hydrates and replenishes dry and sensitive skin," Jessica Weiser, M.D., of New York Dermatology Group tells The Fashion Spot. "It repletes ceramides, which are proteins in the skin necessary for maintaining proper barrier function and preventing irritation and eczema."

This unassuming drugstore cream has somehow struck the perfect balance, reviewers say: It's incredibly moisturizing, yet light and greaseless. It's packed with effective ingredients, yet inexpensive. It's fragrance-free and so gentle, dermatologists recommend it for their most sensitive-skinned patients -- even newborns with severe eczema.

It's "basic but thoughtfully formulated," according to editors at Beautypedia. CeraVe cream contains ingredients that the skin naturally produces -- including ceramides, cholesterol and hyaluronic acid -- that attract moisture and repair the skin barrier. The moisturizing results last and last, through repeated hand washings and even showers, reviews say, with some noting that its thicker texture is similar to that of a body butter.

CeraVe cream typically comes in a jar, but in fall 2015, the company started selling a version of the jar with a convenient pump top (we found it at Amazon, Walgreens and Walmart). CeraVe also sells a thinner lotion in a pump bottle, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion (Est. $9 for 12 oz.), but users say the cream works better, particularly for extremely dry, eczema-prone skin.

At first glance, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (Est. $9 for 16 oz.) looks like CeraVe's near-twin. Both come in clinical-looking, white plastic jars. Both are fragrance-free. Both have a reputation for being gentle on sensitive skin. Both earn similarly stellar marks from users at retail sites like Amazon and Walgreens, and both are frequently recommended by dermatologists, according to reviewers.

"It's fragrance free. The formula is rich, yet absorbs easily and is not greasy," Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, a New York City-based dermatologist, tells InStyle. "It contains sweet almond oil to hydrate skin and the moisturizing effect lasts all day."

Cetaphil cream doesn't contain ceramides, cholesterol and hyaluronic acid like CeraVe does, but Beautypedia editors point out that in addition to sweet almond oil, it contains a few other beneficial emollients including glycerin, petrolatum and dimethicone, which promote healing in dry, rough skin and provide a protective barrier. Still, Beautypedia awards Cetaphil a slightly lower rating -- 2 stars out of 5 versus CeraVe's 3 star rating. Unlike CeraVe, Cetaphil doesn't offer its jar with a pump, although you can buy small 3-ounce tubes of Cetaphil cream, which Beautypedia editors say is a better way to package the formula to preserve the stability of the beneficial ingredients.

In a head-to-head test of 10 different body lotions conducted by editors at Wirecutter, Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion (Est. $8 for 18 oz.) emerges as a clear winner -- it's the only body lotion among the 10 products tested that all seven testers like. "It's thick enough to stay neat in your hand and thin enough to spread quickly and smoothly onto your skin," editors say. "And unlike its competitors, it dries nicely without leaving a greasy film in its wake and has a neutral scent that won't follow you out of the bathroom." Thousands of users across sites like Amazon, Walgreens and Walmart echo these sentiments, and several say it's been there go-to body lotion for years. While our best-reviewed CeraVe Moisturizing Cream isn't included in Wirecutter's roundup, CeraVe's lotion formula is named runner-up.

Editors at Beautypedia give Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion a 4 star rating, noting that its active ingredient is a form of silicone, which is a common ingredient in body lotions (though most don't list it as an active ingredient). However, in this case, editors say it's "permissible because silicones are considered over-the-counter skin protectants." While they say it's a "bit too bare-bones" to earn a higher score, it's a solid choice for people with sensitive skin.

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