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When you have dry or itchy skin, few things are as enticing as lathering on a soothing body lotion to alleviate discomfort. Plus, a consistent moisturizing routine can make every day feel like a spa day.
The benefits of a good lotion extend beyond its ability to soften your skin: It’s important to help lock in moisture and support the skin barrier, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “An impaired barrier will leave the skin more vulnerable to damage, dryness, irritation, inflammation and infection,” she says.
We spoke to dermatologists about why moisturizing is important and what to look for in a quality body lotion. We also highlighted expert-recommended options to consider, as well as options our editors have tried on their own skin.
SKIP AHEAD How to shop for body lotion
How we picked the best body lotions
When shopping for a body lotion, our experts recommend considering the following factors:
- Ingredients: Look for humectants like hyaluronic acid that attract water from the environment to hydrate the skin. Emollients like ceramides help improve the skin’s texture, while occlusives like petrolatum hold onto moisture and prevent the skin from drying out, according to our experts.
- Skin type: Consider a body lotion that fits your specific skin type. If you have very dry skin, look for richer creams because they’re formulated with more hydrating oils, experts told us. If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid fragrances and other potential irritants like dyes, while those with oily and acne-prone skin should consider lightweight, noncomedogenic moisturizers.
- Price: While there are nice lotions that are on the pricier side, many of the ones below are available on Amazon for less than $20.
The best body lotions of 2024
With this expert guidance in mind, we rounded up a handful of dermatologist-recommended lotions and creams, plus some Select staff favorites, to help your dry skin heal.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Dr. Shoshana Marmon, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at New York Medical College, recommends this Select Wellness Award winner, which is formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to heal dry skin. Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg also swears by it: “The two things I love most are its soft texture and I notice more of a moisturizing effect on my skin that lasts longer compared to other creams I’ve used and definitely more than when I use lotions,” she says. Ginsberg also appreciates that it doesn’t have a strong scent or a hefty price tag.
La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Body Moisturizer for Dry Skin
I’ve been using La Roche-Posay products for years and love their gentle scent and the fact that they’re lightweight, providing deep moisture without leaving behind a greasy residue. Marmon recommends this moisturizer from the French beauty company, which is formulated with ceramides, shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide.
Summer Fridays Summer Silk Nourishing Body Lotion
This Summer Fridays body lotion is a Select Wellness award winner for best body moisturizer. It’s formulated with humectants, emollients and occlusives like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin and natural oils to hydrate and soften the skin, according to the brand. The lotion, which has a coconut, vanilla and almond scent, is in constant rotation for NBC page Mikhaila Archer because it has a great texture that doesn’t feel too thin or thick on her skin.
Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion
Vanicream is by no means a new, splashy brand (in fact, it’s been around since the 70s), but it’s a stalwart in the world of skin and hair care. In fact, dermatologists in our guide to the best treatments for razor burn, the best shave gels, facial moisturizers, products for rosacea and best shampoos for every hair type all feature Vanicream’s gentle, fragrance-free products. Marmon recommends their fragrance-free moisturizing lotion as a quality option for hydrating your skin.
Amlactin Daily Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Skin
Marmon also recommends Amlactin’s moisturizer for dry skin. It’s formulated without parabens or fragrances and relies on humectants like glycerin to hydrate the skin. Also, the lotion contains 12% lactic acid, which the brand says is both a powerful humectant and gentle exfoliant that can relieve skin issues like keratosis pilaris.
Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion
This highly rated body lotion helps keep skin moisturized for up to 48 hours, according to the brand. The formula relies on ceramides, an emollient our experts recommend, to hydrate the skin and prevent dryness. Eucerin’s Advanced Repair Body Lotion is fragrance-free and has a 4.8-star average rating from over 25,215 reviews on Amazon.
Dove’s Body Love Sensitive Care Body Lotion
King recommends this Dove body lotion because of its “rich moisturizing formula [that] supports the skin barrier with ceramides.” “[It’s] the ideal combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives,” she says, adding that it’s “a great choice for sensitive skin because it hydrates, supports the skin barrier and locks in moisture, and it doesn’t contain any ingredients that are likely to be irritating or drying.”
Vaseline Intensive Care Sensitive Skin Relief Lotion
King also recommends this option from Vaseline, which “contains humectants like glycerin to hydrate the skin, emollients like shea butter and sunflower seed oil to support the skin barrier, and occlusives like petrolatum to lock in moisture,” but no irritating ingredients, she says. King also notes that it’s formulated with colloidal oatmeal, which helps to soothe and protect the skin.
Eos Shea Better 24H Moisture Body Lotion
Though you should proceed with caution when it comes to heavily-fragranced moisturizers, King uses this Eos lotion and says she’s very happy with how moisturizing it is. Plus, it’s packed with humectants, emollients and occlusives like shea butter, glycerin, triglycerides, cocoa seed butter, petrolatum, mineral oil and sunflower seed oil, she says.
Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Lotion
NBC Page Hannah Fuechtman is a fan of Illiyoon’s Ceramide Ato Lotion because it moisturizes her dry skin during the winter. “I have incredibly dry skin, especially when the cold weather hits, and this is one of the only lotions that protects my skin,” she says. “I love how this lightweight, fragrance-free formula goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave my skin feeling sticky”. Illiyoon offers products specifically for sensitive skin, so it’s a great pick if you fall into that skin type, too, says Fuechtman.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
Select reporter Harry Rabinowitz is a fan of Cetaphil’s lotion as both a body and face moisturizer. “It’s totally unscented, it comes in a large, affordable bottle, and I’ve seen it recommended by many dermatologists,” he says. Cetaphil is formulated with hydrating glycerin and is noncomedogenic, meaning it shouldn’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
Curél Ultra Healing Lotion
This Curél body lotion is fragrance-free and specifically targets extra dry, tight skin, according to the brand. It has hydrating ingredients like ceramides, shea butter and oatmeal that lock in moisture for up to 24 hours, according to the brand. The lotion has a 4.8-star average rating from over 21,600 reviews on Amazon.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Not quite a lotion, not quite a cream, but deserving of an honorable mention from Marmon is Aquaphor’s healing ointment. The balm won’t spread across your skin like the other recommendations on this list, but it’s great for spot treating rough patches on your skin and other itchy spots. It also ranks in NBC Select’s guides on how to heal dry, chapped lips and the best creams to heal dry skin.
How to shop for body lotion
“Moisturizer is a catch-all term for something that hydrates the skin,” says Marmon. Whether a product is sold as a lotion, cream, body butter or a similar product (more on what distinguishes each below), they should contain humectants to hydrate the skin, emollients to support the skin barrier and occlusives to lock in moisture, says King. Some lotions can also have additional ingredients for specific concerns, like lactic acid to gently exfoliate rough or bumpy skin, or retinol for anti-aging, she says.
- Humectants: “Humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea attract water from the environment to increase moisture in the skin,” says Marmon. “They need to be used along with the other components in order to retain the water content,” says King.
- Emollients: Emollients “help in skin barrier function, membrane fluidity and cell signaling leading to overall improvement in skin texture and appearance,” says King. They soothe the skin, filling in any gaps and cracks. Some examples of emollients in moisturizers include squalene, shea butter, fatty acids and ceramides.
- Occlusives: “Occlusives are oils and waxes which form an inert layer on the skin and physically block transepidermal water loss,” says King, meaning they enable the skin to hold onto moisture. Examples include petrolatum (the main ingredient in Vaseline, or Aquaphor, for example), beeswax, mineral oil, silicones, lanolin and zinc oxide. “Balms and ointments are commonly occlusive,” says Marmon.
Meet our experts
At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
Why trust NBC Select?
Christina Colizza is a former editor at NBC Select and has been a product reviewer since 2018. She covers a range of self care and skin care topics like shampoos, eyebrow serums and more.
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