Body lotion, like face moisturizer, is essential for keeping your skin hydrated and healthy. “We so often overlook the rest of our skin, but it’s our largest organ and it requires targeted care,” Dr. Barbara Sturm says. According to the founder and CEO of her eponymous, cult-followed skin care brand, the skin on our bodies is prone to dryness because it has fewer sebaceous glands and is thicker than the skin on our faces, so it’s even more important that we moisturize it.
How often you should slather on body lotion varies person to person based on your own skin’s needs, but there isn’t any harm in making it an everyday habit with products that work with your body. “People only treat their skin when they experience a problem, but consistency is key to healthy skin overall,” celebrity dermatologist Dr. Kim Nichols says. “Over time, you can double the moisture and hydration of your skin when [body lotion] is used on a daily basis.”
Not all body moisturizers are created equal, though, and there are specific beneficial ingredients you’ll want to look for. The experts we spoke to noted that formulas with skin-barrier-supporting ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid and glycerin will help lock in moisture. Richer products that contain occlusives like oils and petrolatum feel extra-nourishing and are a good fit for those with dry or mature skin. For those that are acne-prone, a non-comedogenic emollient like shea or cocoa butter and non-irritating colloidal oatmeal can help moisturize and soothe the skin. Colloidal oatmeal is also a key ingredient for people who have eczema, as it eases irritation and itchiness.
The timing of when you moisturize and other elements of your self-care routine can also have an effect on keeping your skin hydrated. Applying body lotion post-shower, for example, will assist in locking in the moisture. To further prevent water loss, dermatologist and founder of Macrene Actives Dr. Macrene Alexiades suggests not making the shower temperature too hot and investing in a warm air humidifier, like from Honeywell, to keep 50% humidity. “This will prevent dry, chapped skin and will maintain perfect hydration overnight so you awaken with radiant skin,” Alexiades says. The dermatologist also advises that, “The start to good skin and intact skin barrier includes nutrition and hydration. You should eat in-season foods, which will fortify your skin with vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, carotenoids and fiber. These key ingredients build the skin barrier, maintain skin hydration, fight against skin cancer and keep you regular so that toxins do not build up internally.”
But the first step to hydrated skin all over is the body lotion, which is why we’ve asked eight skin experts for their favorites. Read on to discover their picks, from holy grail drugstore lotions to luxuriously rich body creams.
Best body lotion for dry skin
“The signs of dry skin include flaking, cracking, redness and wrinkles,” Alexiades says. “The skin loses its pink luster and velvety feel, and becomes pale and rough to the touch. If someone has these issues, I usually recommend Aveeno Eczema Therapy. Its consistency works to moisturize very dry skin.”
Celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas not only gives stars like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ariana DeBose facials to prep for the red carpet, but also develops special in-spa treatments for keeping the body glowing. To maintain those results, moisturizing is key and Vargas loves the Karité Shea Butter Body Cream to do the trick. “Shea butter penetrates really well into the skin and leaves a nice clean glow,” she says.
A tried and true staple, this affordable lotion relieves and revives dry skin. “This formula contains ceramides, or fats, that provide 48 hours of moisture and relieve dry skin almost immediately after use,” Nichols says. “Used daily, it even helps repair skin over time, and improves moisture retention.”
Lymphatic drainage specialist Flavia Morellato loves this luxury option for deep hydration. “The formula includes a patented trigger factor complex — a concoction of peptides, amino acids and vitamins A and E to aid the skin’s renewal process — and was originally developed to heal burn wounds,” she says. “It also contains shea butter to moisturize and candeia oil to firm the skin.” To apply the body cream, or any other body moisturizer, to aid lymphatic drainage, the expert suggests using deliberate strokes following the body’s blood circulation and lymphatic system to “speed up the flow and optimize cleansing.”
Another dermatologist-approved moisturizer, this balm is suitable for all skin types and all ages. Dr. Shereene Idriss, founder of Idriss Dermatology and #Pillowtalkderm on Instagram, discovered the nourishing balm to soothe her childrens’ skin when they were babies, and it became a go-to product for the whole family. “It’s also really great for anyone with eczema and really dry skin,” Idriss says. “Colloidal oatmeal and ceramides hydrate your skin. I like the balm because it seals in moisture without feeling greasy on your sheets or your clothes.”
Chanel makeup artist and groomer Tasha Reiko Brown helps stars like Alicia Keys and Michael B. Jordan look their best, and that starts with the skin. For extremely dry skin, the expert suggests a solid moisturizer that will melt into the skin. This zero-waste option from Kate McLeod is scented with vetiver and bergamot and is made with cocoa butter and four silky oils, including sweet almond and avocado, to soothe dry skin.
This rich but light body butter is made with naturally hydrating ingredients like shea butter, honey and olive oil to help skin become soft and supple.
As we move into warmer weather, those who enjoy spending time outside will want to counteract the moisture-zapping nature of spending days in the sun. Aloe vera is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, and this gel from Dr. Barbara Sturm contains “90% concentration of aloe leaf juice to help support skin regeneration, reduce the appearance of irritation and soothe the skin,” the founder says. “My formulation also contains purslane, an anti-aging powerhouse which helps to defend the skin from attack by free radicals and reduces the appearance of irritation, as well as panthenol (vitamin B5) which has additional skin-soothing benefits.”
This easy-to-apply body moisturizer sprays on and sinks in quickly after being massaged into the skin. It’s a favorite of Idriss because of its application and skin-protecting formula.
The Nécessaire’s fragrance-free, vegan and pH-balanced body lotion feels a bit more luxe than other sensitive-skin-safe options on the market. Formulated with moisturizing niacinamide (vitamin B3) — along with vitamins A, C and E — this lotion helps support the skin barrier from the shoulders to the feet.
Board certified dermatologist Dr. Josh Zeichner recommends the Bliss Lemon & Sage Body Butter for those looking for a quick-absorbing moisturizer that also smells delicious. “It contains a blend of shea butter and coconut oil to soften and condition the skin with a gentle lemon scent,” he says. “While I don’t recommend fragrances and people who have ultra-gentle skin, for the majority of people in the world, fragrances are fine to use and actually add to the overall experience of using a product.”
Keep it pure with 100% organic shea butter. As the moisturizing ingredient in most body lotions and creams, you can go straight to the source with nourishing shea butter that not only makes a great body moisturizer, but can also be used to treat dry cuticles, hair and more.
This rich cream features triple lanolin, a naturally occurring oil found in sheep’s wool that is touted for its moisturizing properties. Mixed with shea butter and sweet almond, this face and body cream replenishes dry skin.
Best body lotion for aging skin
This formula took Sturm three years to develop, optimizing a blend of nutrient-rich oils to restore elasticity and active natural compounds, such as white almond and elderberry blossom extracts, to tighten skin. “Women often forget that anti-aging skincare also applies from the neck down,” Sturm says. “What I really love about [the body cream] is that it is super lipid-rich and absorbs quickly into the skin — you can get right into your clothes after applying it, which is an issue I was trying to solve because everyone is in a hurry, and we don’t want our body cream to stick to our clothes or leave any residue.”
“As we age, the production of estrogen starts to slow down,” Nichols says. “Estrogen is vital for a lot of things — it helps retain moisture in the skin and contributes to the production of collagen and elastin. Without it, our skin starts to become dehydrated, even with daily moisturizer application. To help aging skin retain hydration while correcting visible signs of aging, I recommend using a moisturizer that also has retinol for overnight repair, such as the RoC Retinol Correxion Max Hydration Cream.”
One of Reiko Brown’s favorite moisturizers is this body and décolletage cream from Chanel, which contains glycerin, shea butter, squalane and coconut oil to nourish the skin. According to the makeup artist, it has “a chic body texture. The hydration can’t be matched and it leaves behind a shimmer-less wet glow.”
“This transforming treatment is packed with potent peptides, plus lifting and brightening agents to tighten and even skin tone visibly,” Morellato says. “Lightweight, yet deeply moisturizing, this firming formula restores elasticity and resilience to thin, crepey skin. It contains jojoba seeds extract, vitamin E and complex B, fat acids to firm the skin, plus turmeric root extract, a potent antioxidant to boost luminosity and tone.”
With the slugging skin care trend bringing attention to the moisture-preserving power of occlusives like Vaseline, it makes sense to apply them to the whole body, too. The petrolatum in Vaseline jelly helps heal the skin and retain its moisture, thus resulting in a plumper, more youthful appearance. This body lotion from Vaseline contains micro-droplets of the jelly, along with oat extract, which Zeichner says will help protect and calm the skin.
Brand founder Alexiades wanted to create a moisturizing product that targets one of the first areas to show signs of aging due to its daily exposure to the sun — the neck and décolletage. Packed with 55 active, USDA-certified organic ingredients, this vegan formula aims to revive elasticity and reverse sun damage. “Initially, I only used it on my neck and chest, but slowly added it to my hands, then arms and now legs and abdomen to keep my body skin healthy, smooth and beautiful” Alexiades says.
This body serum delivers lightweight hydration and helps plump up skin all over with a tripeptide that boosts collagen production. Peptides are a main element of skin firmness —they’re the building blocks of the proteins in new collagen and elastin — which is why you’ll see them in wrinkle-reducing products for the face, and why you should look for them in anti-aging body care, too.
Best in-shower body moisturizer
“Protecting and nourishing your skin barrier really starts in the shower,” Vargas says. “Most people don’t realize that your body wash choice can be just as important to overall skin health and preventing dryness.” The celebrity esthetician loves these hyaluronic serum and moringa oil-packed formulas from Dove. “It’s a quick, two-step regimen that feels super luxe and leaves my skin smooth,” she shares. “The body cleanser has a lotion-like formula, and creates this amazing rich lather that locks in moisture.”
“The trick to in-shower body moisturizers and treatments is that you want to make sure you are applying moisturizer while the body is still damp,” Nichols advises. “This allows the moisturizer to penetrate ten times deeper into the skin while your pores are opened. In-shower formulas, unlike a creamy moisturizer, tend to contain skin-softening ingredients such as nut butters and oils. Heritage Store’s Egyptian Gold Butter is a fabulous product to incorporate into your shower routine. The butter contains an occlusive (moisture retaining) olive fruit oil, which helps hydrate from the inside out. This traps in the moisture and provides long lasting results without leaving a sticky residue.”
A shower oil will gently emulsify when mixed with water, creating a slick, milky treatment that cleanses and nourishes the skin. “I like simple formulas with as few chemicals as possible and am partial to the lovely almond scent of this oil,” Alexiades says.
This is Morellato’s favorite in-shower moisturizer thanks to its blend of botanical oils, such as sweet almond, olive, avocado, apricot and jojoba oils. You can add it to your bath water to create a silky emulsion that sinks into the skin as you bathe or create a milky mixture in the shower to massage into the skin.
Adding replenishing ceramides while skin is still wet, this moisturizer should be applied to the skin right after you turn the shower off, but before you towel dry. The water-activated formula absorbs quickly so your skin is hydrated and happy before you even step out of the shower.