20 of the Best Body Lotions for Your Poor, Parched Skin
Between the dry, punishing air outside, the moisture-sucking showers we're taking to keep warm and the always-running heater, our skin is practically begging for a reprieve come this time of year. And considering that it's our biggest organ and protector from environmental aggressors, we should probably be giving it a little more love than a quick smattering of moisturizer when we happen to remember. The best body lotion will include the most hydrating ingredients available and little else, be it scents, dyes or potential irritants—especially for those who have not only dry but also sensitive skin. It should also feel silky—not oily or greasy—and help you to prevent sunburn when needed. Read more about what to look for in a body lotion below.
What Causes Dry Skin?
According to the American Skin Association, dry skin can be caused by anything from harsh soap and itchy clothing to those aforementioned long, hot showers. “The condition often worsens in the winter, when several factors contribute to skin dryness: low temperature and low humidity associated to very hot and drying heating, cause a decreased amounts of water in the stratum corneum," the site explains, noting that constant exposure to air conditioning in the summer can have a similar effect.
Other factors, such as age, medication, certain medical conditions and smoking can also leave your epidermis feeling like the Sahara on a hot day. In fact, according to the American Association of Dermatology, "By 60 years of age, nearly everyone has dry skin." Yikes! If you're starting to cringe, take a deep breath: There is a bit of good news. In addition to drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated from the inside out, body lotion can do wonders to restore your moisture levels and repair damaged lipid barriers.
What Ingredients Hydrate Skin Most?
If you have severely dry skin, it probably isn’t good enough to apply just any old moisturizer. Experts agree that the one you reach for should be void of stripping alcohols and contain one of the below hydrating ingredients (or ideally, a combination of them), to help increase your skin’s water content while also repairing its barrier to ward off side effects such as itchiness, redness and flakes. Here are the main players.
- Emollients: An ingredient that's used to make skin smoother and softer by filling in the gaps and cracks in your skin, emollients prevent moisture loss and can be found in everything from oils to butters to fatty acids.
- Humectants: These actually attract water to the skin, increasing its overall moisture content. Look for them in forms of hyaluronic acid, glycerin and alpha hydroxy acids.
- Ceramides: These fats or lipids are found in our cells and help to restore the skin’s natural barrier, which is responsible for protecting us from things like pollution, bacteria and signs of aging. Lipids deplete as we age, but can be synthetically manufactured for use in skincare products to help to reinforce our natural production of them, so skin feels smoother, plumper and more hydrated.
- Occlusives: Once you restore all that hydration, you’re going to want something to prevent the viscous cycle from starting all over again. Occlusives are waxy or oily ingredients, like beeswax or cocoa butter, that sit on top of the skin, creating a barrier to prevent further moisture loss.
What Is the Best Body Lotion for Dry Skin?
If you've been #blessed with lizard-like skin, there's a good chance you'll be applying lotion more often than normal. While you'd normally want to look for something lightweight that won't feel sticky or heavy, those with especially dry skin that tends to crack or flake might want to look toward thicker formulas, such as balms or creams, instead of lotions, to combat the extra dryness they're experiencing. Regardless of which route you go, however, your lotion should be able to be applied and rubbed in easily without feeling greasy or leaving a film behind (because, well, ew). The idea is for it to serve as a barrier for your skin, keeping it soft and smooth and protecting it against the elements, like sun or cold weather.
Naturally, it should also include the star ingredients noted above: humectants, like glycerin, that help attract water, emollients, like squalene, that help improve its texture and appearance and occlusives, like oil or wax, that can seal moisture in so it can do its job. For those who live in sunny climates, a good body lotion might also include sunscreen.
What Is the Best Body Lotion for Aging Skin?
As we age, we not only spend more time indoors, where heat and air conditioning can wreak havoc on our epidermis, we lose oil glands and lipids over time, making us feel much dryer than normal. If this is a concern, it's a good idea to seek out a body lotion that can add some of that hydration back in synthetically with manufactured ceramides and lipids (such lotions might include wording on the labels like "advanced repair"). Other ingredients to look for include humectants, which will attract more moisture to your skin, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
Body lotions that use essential fatty acids or natural oils (think butter, avocado oil or sesame seed oil) can also be good for anti-aging thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What Is the Best Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin?
Those with sensitive skin should avoid body lotions that have too many added ingredients, including fragrance, as these can irritate the skin, leading to the development of itchiness and rashes. The lotion should also be labeled as gentle, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, which means it is specially formulated not to clog pores.
If you've got a specific skin condition, like eczema, it's best to look for a body lotion that is labeled to treat this specifically. Ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, which has anti-inflammatory properties, may help to provide some relief from its burning sting. Some might also include ingredients like menthol, which will have a soothing and cooling effect on irritated areas. And while steroid-based creams as prescribed by your doctor can help with temporary relief, they are not recommended for long-term, daily use.
Ready to get to the good stuff? We've done our research on the best body lotion on the market based on our own experiences and in-depth research.
The Best Body Lotion for Dry Skin at a Glance
- Best Body Lotion: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
- Best Unscented Body Lotion: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair
- Most Hydrating Body Lotion: Bioderma Atoderm Cream
- Best Shea Butter Body Lotion: Cetaphil Advanced Relief Cream
- Best Vitamin C Body Lotion: Nécessaire The Body Lotion
- Best Luxury Body Lotion: Augustinus Bader The Body Cream
- Best Body Lotion for Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Whipped Body Balm
- Best Scented Body Lotion: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Body Lotion
- Best Body Lotion for Flaky Skin: Kiehl's Creme de Corps Body Lotion
- Best Rich Body Lotion: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Lotion
- Best Cocoa Butter Body Lotion: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Body Lotion
- Best Body Lotion for Eczema: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Lotion
- Best Ceramide Body Lotion: Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion
- Best Body Lotion for Itchy Skin: Sarna Original Body Lotion
- Best Body Lotion for Keratosis Pilaris: CeraVe SA Body Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin
- Most Healing Body Lotion: NIVEA Intense Healing Body Lotion
- Best Hypoallergenic Body Lotion: Gold Bond Ultimate Skin Therapy Lotion
- Best In-Shower Body Lotion: Curél Hydra Therapy Lotion
- Best Restoring Body Lotion: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
- Best Non-Greasy Body Lotion: Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion
- Why We Love It: Seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association, non-greasy
The CeraVe lotion checks all of the boxes in terms of what you would want in a good body lotion for dry skin, from its hydrating ingredients right down to the value. With humectant hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help restore your skin's natural moisture, it's fragrance-free, allergy-tested, non-comedogenic, lightweight and non-greasy. We also love that it holds a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
- Why We Love It: Fragrance-free, locks in moisture with protective barrier
If sensitive skin is a concern, a highly fragrant lotion is the last thing you want to apply. This unscented lotion is one you can buy in bulk and keep in the house for consistent moisturizing after your morning shower or before bedtime. Designed for those with an easily irritated epidermis, it's completely void of fragrance, contains Vaseline and glycerin, which form protective layers to lock in moisture and has also received the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance.
- Why We Love It: Includes antioxidant vitamin B3, trusted brand
If you have a makeup routine, chances are, you might already, or at least have heard of, Bioderma's best-selling makeup remover. The brand's lotion is also nothing to sniff at, as it's a great first step defense against dry skin. Its vitamin B3, not only helps to hydrate and improve elasticity, but works as an antioxidant to protect your skin from cell-damaging free radicals. It also includes glycerin and minerals to form a protective barrier. The company recommends applying it right after gently drying from a shower, up to twice a day, for normal to dry skin.
- Why We Love It: Contains shea butter, makes skin softer
Shea butter, or fat that's extracted from the nuts of shea trees in West Africa, is known for its ability to act as a natural emollient thanks to its natural levels of vitamins and fatty acids. This dermatologist-recommended shea butter lotion is both hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, making it safe to use on all skin types. The company promises it will lock in moisture for up to 48 hours, which makes it ideal for use on common dry problem areas, like knees, feet, hands and elbows, and claims that an internal study resulted in a 94 percent softer texture for participants in just one week. We also appreciate that it isn't greasy and reportedly leaves your skin looking radiant.
- Why We Love It: Certified vegan, cruelty-free, effortlessly sinks into skin
We tried—and loved—this lotion, which is certified vegan and uses only cruelty-free ingredients, including niacinamide (a form of vitamin B), vitamins A, C and E to nourish skin and omegas 6 and 9 to support it, with other naturally-derived elements to boot, like sustainable palm and olive. We appreciate how it immediately sinks in without leaving a greasy or sticky feeling behind.
- Why We Love It: Reportedly lessens cellulite, sun damage and stretch marks, cruelty-free
Get luscious, smooth skin with this lotion that is formulated with a proprietary combination of amino acids called Trigger Factory Complex (TCF8) that the company claims can visibly firm skin, reduce cellulite and stretch marks and even lessen sun damage. (Is that all?!) Cruelty- and fragrance-free, it's safe for all types of skin, and also contains vitamins A and E, plus shea butter for softness. While it's much more expensive than the others on this list, if it helps put some bounce back into our epidermal layer, we're all for it.
- Why We Love It: Great value, hyaluronic acid, lightweight
If you're dryer than the average bear, you'll need something above and beyond your normal Jergens. Thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, this non-greasy and lightweight balm works to not only aid your skin in attracting more moisture with its hero hyaluronic acid, but it also reportedly leaves it feeling soft and velvety-smooth. The whipped consistency gives you a little more bang for your buck, too, since shoppers say a little goes a long way, and it's got a "light and unique" scent that's not overpowering or irritating.
- Why We Love It: Tightens as it hydrates, smells incredible
If your skin is dry but not necessarily sensitive, you may be able to opt for a scented cream; and if so, this lotion is delectable. With notes of vanilla, salted caramel and pistachio, it will not only have you feeling great but also calm, relaxed and smelling delightful. The key ingredient is Cupuaçu butter, an antioxidant-rich emollient that aims to provide moisture, stimulate circulation and restore elasticity to your skin, in theory lessening any sagging (hence why it's marketed for your rear). Meanwhile, its antioxidant-heavy acai oil is included to help relieve painful cracking as its coconut oil furthers softens, conditions and hydrates. Psst: Be sure to use our exclusive coupon code PUREWOW to save an extra $11!
- Why We Love It: Tried-and-true staple, sustainable, refillable package option
The fact that this company has been around since the early 1970s says it all. Once hailed as an "ash killer," this Kiehl's staple can be relied upon to get rid of your flaking dry skin in a hurry thanks to its cocoa butter-rich formula that's said to soften and sufficiently hydrate. No wonder Chloë Sevigny adores it! If you're a heavy user, you can also opt for the larger refillable version, cutting down on bottle refuse.
- Why We Love It: Plant-based, thick, recycling program
Because this body lotion is very thick and rich, it's the perfect one for those calluses on your feet and hands. Sure, it takes a little extra work—you'll have to rub it in thoroughly to fully absorb into your skin—but the hydration and coverage it's said to offer is worth it. It's fully plant-based, with extracts of rosemary, chamomile and pansy combined with fatty, lipid-rich sunflower and sweet almond oils to add that extra bit of calm. Beeswax, meanwhile, lends some sealed-in protection. Better yet, the Swedish company has teamed up with TerraCycle for a recycling program once you've finished your bottle.
- Why We Love It: Smells like cocoa, rich formula
Cocoa butter is an ingredient with a strong legion of fans, and nobody does it better than Palmer's. The company's lotion pairs this skincare superstar with vitamin E that will not only help moisturize dry skin, but also act as an antioxidant, potentially improving the appearance of scars and other blemishes. Did we mention it also smells a little bit like (yum?) cocoa?
- Why We Love It: Clinically proven formula, soothing oatmeal
Aveeno lotion is one of the most popular and widely available brands for eczema. It's non-greasy, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, but the real differentiator is the inclusion of soothing colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, the combination of which has not only caught the attention of the National Eczema Association, it's been clinically proven to reduce dryness and scaling that those with eczema present. In short? This stuff works.
- Why We Love It: 48-hour protection, chock-full of ceramides
The extra-hot water we tend to use all winter long can really do a number on our skin. Enter: ceramides. These fats and lipids are godsends for helping to protect our epidermis and make it silky-smooth, and this lotion has them in spades for fast repair. Buyers say it also absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy film behind. The result? A moisture shield that lasts for up to what Eucerin claims will be 48 hours.
- Why We Love It: Relieves both dryness and itching, cooling sensation
For skin that isn't just dry but also itchy, be it from eczema, insect bites, sunburns or even poison ivy, Sarna's original body lotion can provide soothing relief beyond what a normal moisturizer can give. Active ingredients like camphor and menthol give you that nice, cooling sensation and are better for daily use than steroid products. A pro tip? Put it in the fridge for some extra chill.
- Why We Love It: Gently exfoliates, hypoallergenic
It can be frustrating if you have both dry skin and keratosis pilaris—a common skin condition caused by dead skin cells that get trapped into hair follicles, resulting in tiny bumps—and they often go hand-in-hand. Lotions like this one from CeraVe are made with salicylic and lactic acid to gently exfoliate as it hydrates, helping to slough off those cells that would otherwise continue to plug up your pores. Its fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, too.
- Why We Love It: No need for constant reapplication, helps the body create moisturizing B5
Dryess and tightness will be a thing of the past once you get your hands on this hydrator. Despite its low price tag, its moisture-locking glycerin and pro-vitamin B5, which is absorbed by the body for conversion into vitamin B5, will soothe and heal your poor parched surface. NIVEA claims its benefits last for up to 72 hours—the longest time frame on our list—keeping your skin sufficiently hydrated as you go about your busy days without the need for constant reapplication.
- Why We Love It: Includes soothing aloe, dermatologist-tested
Gold Bond has a long history and a solid reputation when it comes to body lotion, and this one is specially formulated to heal the moisture-challenged. Boasting the power of aloe, which has been credited with everything from anti-aging properties to soothing burns, it's well-suited to heal the uncomfortable cracks that can come with extremely dry skin—even if it's sensitive. That's because it's completely hypoallergenic (according to the company, it's even been through the wringer by dermatologists on this front), non-comedogenic and fast-absorbing, with a clean-but-not-overpowering scent that will keep you smelling fresh all day.
- Why We Love It: Works on wet skin, recognized by National Eczema Association
If you're short on time, why not kill two birds with one stone and get nice and hydrated while you're cleaning up in the shower? This lotion will allow you to do just that, since it's activated by H20 to provide extra moisture while your skin is still wet and your pores are open enough to receive it. It immediately absorbs, so you can towel dry, get dressed and be on your way as normal. More than that, however, it works, with a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association and a promise from the company for your skin to feel three times more hydrated.
- Why We Love It: Protects for 24 hours, binds water to skin for added moisture
According to the company, this extra-strength cream works by binding water to the skin to replenish its natural barrier in as little as one week. That makes it an especially good idea for extra-flaky areas, such as the elbows and feet. More than that, however, Cetaphil says it will protect it for a full 24 hours after it's been applied. The magic formula? Hypoallergenic almond oil and Vitamin E.
- Why We Love It: Lightweight-yet-effective, absorbs quickly
Want stronger skin without that slippery, greasy feel? Then look no further than this dermatologist-developed lotion, which will be your new best friend. Its lightweight consistency, along with its vitamin E, pro-vitamin B5 and lipids, is said to absorb in seconds, yet last for hours, even when up against ultra-dry skin.