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.
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
"Body Lotions and Creams"
"The Best Lotions for Most People"
"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
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 (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, (Est. $9 for 12 oz.), but users say
the cream works better, particularly for extremely dry, eczema-prone skin.
At first glance, (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, (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