Body lotions are a part of most people's post-shower routines because they sink in fast, with no greasy residue, so you can get dressed right away. Since they both replenish lost moisture and keep it locked in, they're an easy way to maintain soft and flake-free limbs year-round.
But with so many versions out there, does it really matter which one you go for?
YES. Body lotions require a higher degree of vigilance when it comes to ingredients, since you're covering a large surface area and therefore absorbing much more of them than your facial skincare. There's no point investing in the latest luxe lotion if it means you're slathering your skin with harmful petrochemicals or rancid oils.
Fortunately, you don't need to choose between a pampering experience and skin-friendly ingredients. Here's my criteria for selecting a body lotion, and the products I've found that measure up.
What to Look for in a Body Lotion
Ideally, you want to look for the following when scanning body lotion labels:
- Has humectants: Ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid help to attract water molecules and hydrate your skin from within.
- Has occlusives: Natural oils and butters, such as coconut oil and shea butter, will seal in the moisture from the humectants so it doesn't evaporate.
- Low in PUFAs: Polyunsaturated fatty acids rapidly oxidize (go rancid) in the presence of light, heat and oxygen, producing a cascade of aging free radicals. There is also some evidence that applying PUFAs topically may change your body's fatty acid composition, which could impact your health. I recommend avoiding lotions that contain PUFA-based oils in the first five ingredients.
- Low in mineral oil: While mineral oil is highly effective at trapping moisture, with prolonged use it may accumulate in fat tissue, and cannot be metabolized.
- Low in squalane: Despite having a much lighter texture than mineral oil, squalane is chemically similar and therefore has the same ability to collect in the body. (For that reason, I think it's best used in small quantities on the face instead.)
- Low in silicones: As synthetic film-formers, silicones can interfere with the skin's cellular renewal processes, leading to drier skin over time. They can also trap acne-causing debris, so be careful with them on breakout-prone areas like the chest and back.
- Low in fragrance: Overly fragrant body lotions (whether natural or synthetic) may be irritating if you have sensitive skin.
- Has a preservative system: Any product that contains water, such as body lotion, requires a preservative to inhibit bacterial growth.
The Best Body Lotions of 2021
Summer Fridays Summer Skin Nourishing Body Lotion
- Details: Summer Fridays Summer Skin Nourishing Body Lotion is a nourishing blend of plant-derived oils, butters and humectants, spiked with healing ceramides to repair the skin barrier. It dries down with a powdery-smooth finish, emitting the brand's soft, beachy scent.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, glycerin, propanediol, fatty alcohol, shea butter, cocoa butter, squalane, hyaluronic acid, ceramides.
- Scent: Coconut, vanilla, almond.
Nécessaire The Body Lotion
- Details: Nécessaire The Body Lotion is dubbed a "multivitamin moisturizer" for the body, since it contains ingredients rich in vitamins B, C and E. Niacinamide (B3) is the main one, working to strengthen your skin and improve texture and tone. Oils and other antioxidants round out the formula, which is great for sensitive skin since it has no scent.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, glycerin, shea butter, jojoba oil, niacinamide, green tea extract, vitamin E.
- Scent: Fragrance-free.
iS Clinical Body Complex
- Details: iS Clinical Body Complex is a hydrating, calming and gently exfoliating lotion that contains many of the same ingredients found in the brand's highly effective face serums. That makes it ideal for areas with KP bumps and acne breakouts, as well as delivering all-over moisture. It's also unscented and suitable for sensitive skin.
- Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, aloe, glycerin, bilberry extract, willow bark extract, stearic acid, sugarcane extract, vitamin E, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), lactic acid, green tea extract.
- Scent: Fragrance-free.
Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion
- Details: Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion has an featherlight texture that feels refreshing on the skin and absorbs instantly. It was recently reformulated, and now features a shorter, more stable and 98% natural ingredients list. Besides the usual hydrators, it also has antioxidants from grape polyphenols to counteract free radical damage.
- Key ingredients: Coco-caprylate caprate, glycerin, grape water, shea butter, grape juice, grape seed extract, hyaluronic acid.
- Scent: Orange blossom.
Abhati Suisse Kanva Body Lotion
- Details: Abhati Suisse Kanva Body Lotion is a soft, creamy lotion comprised of all-natural emollients, Ayurvedic botanical extracts, and subtly fragrant essential oils. It leaves your skin feeling supple, with a slight sheen, and wrapped in a unique scent that could easily replace the need for perfume.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, glycerin, shea butter, fatty alcohol, coconut oil, moringa seed oil, vitamin E.
- Scent: Lychee, freesia, sandalwood.
Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion
- Details: Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion not only has a similar texture to The Cream, it also treats your body to TFC8—the brand's famous anti-aging complex that supports skin renewal. (So, this could be a remedy for things like scars and stretch marks.) Meanwhile, an array of vitamins, polysaccharides and emollients weightlessly condition your skin and prevent water loss.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, glycerin, provitamin B5 (panthenol), fatty alcohol, shea butter, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E, cholesterol, ceramides, amino acids.
- Scent: Fragrance-free.
Megababe Soothing & Hydrating Repair Care 24-Hour Sensitive Skin Lotion
- Details: Megababe Soothing & Hydrating Repair Care 24-Hour Sensitive Skin Lotion was made with sensitive skin in mind. Not only is it fragrance-free, it's also enriched with soothing colloidal oatmeal and barrier-repairing ceramides. Don't be fooled by its thin consistency—the hydration lasts for up to 24 hours.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, fatty alcohol, glycerin, colloidal oatmeal, propanediol, aloe, ceramides, hyaluronic acid.
- Scent: Fragrance-free.
Alchimie Forever Soothing Body Lotion
- Details: Alchimie Forever Soothing Body Lotion is a rich but non-greasy moisturizer that is ideal for daily use as well as after laser treatments, hair removal, sunburn and windburn. It gives a slight cooling sensation (thanks to the menthol), is packed with soothing botanicals, and has a calming herbal scent.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, provitamin B5 (panthenol), fatty alcohol, lavender extract, green tea extract, menthol.
- Scent: Lavender, rosemary.
Tammy Fender Rose Geranium & Tangerine Body Lotion
- Details: Tammy Fender Rose Geranium & Tangerine Body Lotion treats your senses to a relaxing aromatherapy experience while it moisturizes your body with a mix of rich, plant-based emollients. The latter give it a thicker, creamier texture than most lotions, which couldn't be more indulgent.
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, olive-derived emollients, beeswax, fatty alcohols, carrot seed water, chamomile water.
- Scent: Orange, rose, ylang ylang, mandarin, rose geranium.
SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Body Lotion
- Details: SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Body Lotion is a budget-friendly option that combines the brand's signature raw shea butter with virgin coconut oil and other natural ingredients. These give it a thicker texture, so for best results, massage it in post-bath or shower. The warmth from your skin will help it to melt right in.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, fatty alcohols, glycerin, shea butter, coconut fruit juice.
- Scent: Coconut milk.
Pirette Hydrating Body Lotion
- Details: Pirette Hydrating Body Lotion restores moisture with a non-greasy, non-sticky mixture of all-natural oils, butters, fatty acids and humectants. At the same time, it transports you to the beach with the brand's flagship summery scent (which is phthlate-free and non-toxic).
- Key ingredients: Coconut oil, stearic acid, glycerin, macadamia oil, shea butter, fractionated coconut oil, vitamin E, fatty alcohol, hyaluronic acid, aloe.
- Scent: Coconut, surf wax, sunscreen.
Sapelo Milk & Honey Body Lotion
- Details: Sapelo Milk & Honey Body Lotion was developed by an OB-GYN for pregnant and nursing moms, so it contains only the safest ingredients (which are also perfect for sensitive skin). They include milk peptides, honey and chamomile, all whipped into a light and non-sticky lotion.
- Key ingredients: Fractionated coconut oil, lethicin, whey protein, algae, hyaluronic acid, honey, chamomile extract.
- Scent: Honey, florals.
Odacité Perfect Nutrients Body Lotion
- Details: Odacité Perfect Nutrients Body Lotion is a deeply nourishing blend of all-natural oils and plant extracts. Rather than feeling thick, it has a fluid but velvety texture, and leaves your skin silky-soft with a comforting herbal scent.
- Key ingredients: Aloe, coconut oil, lavender extract, vegetable wax, glycerin, stearic acid, calendula extract, white tea extract, jojoba oil, olive oil, vitamin E.
- Scent: Lavender, calendula.
Alaffia Everyday Coconut Body Lotion
- Details: Alaffia Everyday Coconut Body Lotion marries fair-trade shea butter with virgin coconut oil and antioxidant-rich coffee berries. You might think that it would feel greasy, but it's actually lightweight, fast-absorbing and long-lasting. Plus, it has a super-affordable price point.
- Key ingredients: Coffee berry extract, coconut oil, emulsifying wax, shea butter, coconut water, stearic acid, coconut extract.
- Scent: Coconut, lime.
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Have you tried any of these body lotions?
What did you think?