the right body lotion for you
A body lotion usually consists of three main components that all work
- Humectants (such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid)
to draw water into the outer layer of skin.
- Emollients (such as silicones and jojoba oil) to
fill the gaps between cell clusters in the skin's top layer, making it
feel smooth and supple.
- Occlusives (such as petrolatum and waxes) to seal
moisture into the skin.
Different types of body lotions combine these components in different
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 greaselessly, 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.
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
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
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 $12 to $16 for a good-sized bottle or jar, and they're all
easy to find at drugstores.
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.com rates body lotions based on their ingredient lists and
formulations. Editors at TheSweethome.com evaluate 10 popular body lotions and moisturizers
in a head-to-head test, and TheFashionSpot.com and InStyle magazine talk to
dermatologists and other experts for their recommendations on the best body
lotions. Often, the lotions that ace these tests are already favorite standbys
of typical users, and they share their opinions at sites like TotalBeauty.com,
MakeupAlley.com, Walmart.com and Amazon.com.
body lotions that really, really work
For a do-it-all body moisturizer, reviews say you simply can't beat (Est. $12 for 16 oz.). Dermatologists love it, and so do legions of
well-moisturized fans at Amazon.com, MakeupAlley.com, Walgreens.com and
Walmart.com. And according to reviews at About.com and TheFashionSpot.com,
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is often recommended by dermatologists.
"It hydrates and replenishes dry and sensitive skin," Jessica
Weiser, M.D., of New York Dermatology Group tells TheFashionSpot.com. "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," says Paula Begoun,
the exacting cosmetics critic and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics
Counter Without Me." 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.com, Walgreens.com and Walmart.com). CeraVe also sells a thinner lotion
in a pump bottle, (Est. $11 for 12 oz.), but users say the cream works better, particularly for extremely
dry, eczema-prone skin.
At first glance, (Est. $12 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.com and Walgreens.com, and About.com's Derrick recommends
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is also a favorite among dermatologists. "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
magazine. "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 Begoun points out that in addition to sweet almond
oil, it contains a few other beneficial emollients including glycerin,
petrolatum, dimethicone, which promotes healing in dry, rough skin and provides
a protective barrier. Still, Begoun 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 if you don't like digging your fingers into a jar.
In a head-to-head test of 10 different body lotions conducted by editors
at TheSweethome.com, (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.com, Walgreens.com and Walmart.com 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 TheSweethome.com's
roundup, CeraVe's lotion formula is named runner-up.
Skincare expert Paula Begoun gives Aveeno Active Naturals Daily
Moisturizing Lotion a 4 star rating at Beautypedia.com. She says 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) and "permissible
because silicones are considered over-the-counter skin protectants." While
she says it's a "bit too bare-bones" to earn a higher score, it's a
solid choice for people with sensitive skin.