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Best Lotion for Dry Skin

By: Angela Stringfellow on January 22, 2018

Super-healing moisturizers for parched skin

Thick ointments, balms and butters are designed for ultra-dry skin. Powerful ones come loaded with occlusive ingredients (such as petrolatum) that form a physical barrier over the skin, locking in moisture. They can be greasy, so they're often reserved for small areas (such as rough heels), hard-to-treat skin conditions (such as severe eczema) and severely dry skin that shrugs off thinner lotions and creams.

Beautypedia editors say Cetaphil Restoraderm Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer (Est. $15 for 10 oz.) is "the brand's most advanced moisturizer, and a good option when it comes to healing the itchy, red skin that's the hallmark of eczema." Editors award it a 5-star rating, praising its beneficial ingredients that soothe dry and irritated skin, including glycerin; emollients like sunflower seed oil and shea butter; and allantoin, which has anti-irritant properties. It also contains an antioxidant, niacinamide, as well as a ceramide, hydroxypalmitoyl sphinganine. "All of these will help repair skin's barrier, and that's a big step in healing eczema (a condition in which the skin's barrier is damaged)," editors say.

Dr. Anthony Rossi, a dermatologist based in New York City, tells editors at InStyle that he even uses Cetaphil Restoraderm on his face -- ordinarily a no-no with creams and lotions designed for the body, which are typically too harsh for the more-sensitive skin on the face. "It's made with ceramides and filaggrin; filaggrin is a skin protein that's impaired in people who have eczema," Rossi says. "Using this cream helps prevent my skin from over drying and doesn't clog pores."

Cetaphil Restoraderm Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer earns praise from thousands of users at Amazon, and many more contribute similarly positive feedback on sites like Walmart, Walgreens and MakeupAlley. Many reviewers who suffer from eczema say that this is the only lotion that works to alleviate itching and promote healing. Some have babies and young children with eczema and say it works rapidly to calm inflamed, irritated skin. One caveat: some users say that when applied to skin that is damaged in some way -- such as from cuts or raw eczema -- this lotion causes a temporary burning sensation.

Editors at Elle recommend Aveeno Active Naturals Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream (Est. $16 for 12 oz.), which contains ceramides to lock in the skin's natural moisture. Its thick texture absorbs easily into the skin without being uncomfortable or leaving a sticky or greasy residue behind.

Thousands of users between Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens rave about this body lotion, with plenty calling it a "miracle product." Some users say they've followed every bit of advice from their dermatologist including taking cold showers, staying hydrated, using humidifiers and moisturizing their skin twice a day, and while these measures prevent their skin from becoming unbearably dry, only Aveeno Active Naturals Eczema Therapy actually aids their skin in the healing process. Many users say this body lotion works well for eliminating the dry, scaly and itchy rashes caused by eczema, and some say it helps with keratosis pilaris as well. Some even report that Aveeno Active Naturals Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream cleared up their scaly, itchy skin when prescription steroid creams failed.

If you're looking for a lotion with a thicker consistency, editors at Wirecutter say that Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer (Est. $8 for 32 oz.) is a good option, although it has a stronger scent that turns some testers off. Most users love it, but there are some detractors: in hundreds of reviews across Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens, some say the rich formulation is the ticket to combating winter dry skin, while a few detractors say that it leaves a greasy, sticky feeling behind. Some users say it helps to smooth skin affected by keratosis pilaris and heal dry, cracked and irritated skin, and the affordable cost is a bonus.

For severe cases of dry skin in difficult-to-treat areas like the elbows and heels, experts say that ointments are best for locking in moisture and promoting healing. Aquaphor Healing Ointment (Est. $11 for 14 oz.), for instance, is a long-time favorite of many users who suffer from dry, cracked heels or extremely dry skin on the hands in the winter months.

Editors at Beautypedia says it's a favorite among dermatologists, and for good reason: "There isn't much to this classic ointment, but without question it's a gentle formula that does a formidable job of protecting skin that is dry, cracked, or irritated." Thousands of users across Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens and MakeupAlley concur, with many noting that it has a variety of uses including minor cuts, chapped lips and even dry, irritated skin caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Exfoliating lotions smooth bumpy, flaky skin

If you have flaky, rough skin, you may want to consider an exfoliating lotion. Body lotions that exfoliate contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells without the abrasive ingredients found in other exfoliating products like body scrubs.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cream (Est. $18 for 12 oz.) contains salicylic acid and the AHA derivative ammonium lactate. It has a pH of 3.8, according to editors at Beautypedia, which helps the ingredients exfoliate and smooth bumpy skin, including rough, dry skin caused by conditions like keratosis pilaris, a skin condition that's notoriously difficult to treat. Suitable for all skin types, editors say it has a "beautifully rich yet non-greasy texture that smoothes easily and leaves dry skin feeling protected and noticeably softened, yet non-greasy." Editors award it a 4-star rating, rather than a perfect 5-star rating, due to its one downside: its jar packaging, which leaves certain sensitive ingredients susceptible to deterioration when exposed to light and air. That said, editors do point out that it contains a number of other beneficial ingredients -- including niacinamide -- that remain effective regardless of packaging.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cream is fragrance-free, dye-free and non-irritating, making it a solid choice for those with sensitive, yet bumpy or flaky skin. Hundreds of users rave about this body cream on Amazon, noting that it has a rich, thick consistency -- a little goes a long way -- that absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy feel behind.  Several users who suffer from frustrating skin conditions like psoriasis or keratosis pilaris report finally experiencing relief after using this cream, despite years of experimenting with other prescription and over-the-counter products. While it's free of added fragrances, a few users find the natural scent of this body cream too strong, and some say it's unpleasant.

If you prefer a lighter formula, CeraVe also makes a lotion formulation, CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion (Est. $11 for 8 oz.). While hundreds of users posting feedback to Amazon report that CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion works well for smoothing bumpy, flaky skin caused by keratosis pilaris and similar conditions, editors at Beautypedia say you'll get better results from the cream formulation due to its lower pH. "After several tests, we determined that the pH of SA Renewing Lotion is 4.5, which is beyond the ideal range (pH 3–4) salicylic acid needs to function optimally as an exfoliant," editors say. "With a pH of 4.5, you'll likely get some efficacy against breakouts and chicken skin (keratosis pilaris) but not as much as you would from a BHA body lotion with a lower pH."

Alpha Skin Care Revitalizing Body Lotion (Est. $20 for 12 oz.) earns the highest possible expert rating at Beautypedia, thanks to its high concentration of glycolic acid (12 percent -- the highest concentration available without a prescription) that helps to exfoliate dry, rough and damaged skin. Editors at Beautypedia note that there are dozens of products available for exfoliating the skin through physical means, such as body scrubs, but many contain problematic ingredients. Alpha Skin Care Revitalizing Body Lotion, on the other hand, is non-irritating, providing the perfect balance of exfoliating and moisturizing benefits without harsh fragrances and other ingredients that do more harm than good to sensitive skin. It's a basic formula containing several helpful emollients including petrolatum, glycerin, mineral oil, and dimethicone to leave skin feeling smooth and hydrated.

While it's not among the most heavily-reviewed body lotions at Amazon, Alpha Skin Care Revitalizing Body Lotion earns mostly positive feedback from several hundred users. Several say it helps to smooth bumpy skin caused by keratosis pilaris. On the downside, a few users say it can sting for a few seconds when applied to broken skin, and due to its thick texture, it can leave a sticky residue that causes clothing to cling to skin for a short time after it's applied.

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