Thanks to dry skin, you may be looking and feeling a bit lizard-like right now— and there are many things that can cause that tight, uncomfortable feeling.
Skin conditions, genetics, chlorine in pools, and getting older can all play a role, but weather is a major factor. “Cold weather can disrupt the lipid bilayer, which protects our skin from the environment, thereby causing skin dryness, sensitivity, and flaring skin conditions like eczema, ” says Yoon- Soo Cindy Bae, M. D. , a board-certified dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. Cold air outside and the dry heat indoors also contains little humidity, further promoting parched patches.
“I’ve also noticed that many of my patients don’t care for their body skin as much as they do with their face or hands, ” says Dr. Bae. “The rest of our body is covered, so it’s easier to ignore, ” she says.
One thing to remember is that your body wash can actually make dry skin worse, says Diane Madfes, M. D. , a board-certified dermatologist at Madfes Aesthetic Medical Center in New York City. Be sure to choose a mild body wash suitable for sensitive skin and skip exfoliating cleansers this time of year, which can exacerbate dryness.
Then, keep a bottle of body lotion or cream on hand for when you step out of the shower, she advises: “Lotion up when skin is damp, which allows the moisturizer to spread easier and absorb better into skin. ” But in a sea of body lotions and moisturizers, how do you make the right pick? We asked dermatologists what to consider next time you’re in the body care aisle.
How to choose the best body lotion or cream for dry, itchy skin
Find your hero product: If you don’t like the feel or smell of a lotion, you’re just not going to use it, says Dr. Bae, meaning you’ll be stuck with extremely dry skin. There’s a big difference among products, so if you don’t like one, try another until you find one that you’ll stick with.
Don’t count on cost: You can buy a fancy lotion, but you don’t have to. Drugstore brands can get the job done just as well.
Look for essential hydrators: Glycerin, shea butter, cocoa butter, and ceramides are a few of the must-have moisturizing ingredients in a good lotion, says Dr. Madfes. Hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, colloidal oatmeal, petrolatum, and urea are also helpful ingredients that add and lock in moisture.
Think about fragrance: The right scent can lift your mood, feel energizing, or help you relax. However, any fragrance added to your skincare can spur irritation, so choose a fragrance-free formula if you have sensitive skin.
Test, if necessary: If you know you have especially sensitive skin that’s reacted to body lotion in the past, consider patch testing before applying to your whole body. Dr. Madfes recommends trying it on a small area on your chest for a couple days. No reaction? You’re good to go.
Now, here are the top dermatologist-approved body lotions, creams, and moisturizers to keep all skin types feeling silky smooth year-round.
1 BEST OVERALL CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
“Cerave Moisturizing Cream is one of my all-time favorite body moisturizers, and contains ceramides (a lipid naturally found in skin), glycerin, and hyaluronic acid to pack a powerful punch of deep moisturizing and hydration, ” says Shari Marchbein, M. D, a board-certified dermatologist at Downtown Dermatology in New York City. “Together with cholesterol and fatty acids, ceramides are responsible for creating a healthy, intact skin barrier and retaining moisture in the skin. ” With thousands of raving reviews, this all-over cream is a clear tester favorite, too.
2 BEST VALUE Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Body Lotion
Dr. Marchbein is also a huge fan of lotions from Vaseline. This one contains skin protective petrolatum, glycerin for extra slip, and cocoa seed butter to nourish dry patches. It leaves skin with a soft glow that never looks or feels greasy—and at just $5, it’s easy on the wallet, too.
3 RAVE REVIEWS Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion
If you simply want a no-fuss body lotion that gets the job done, check out this raved-about moisturizer from Eucerin. It packs ceramides, shea butter, and glycerin for intense hydration, but also contains lactic acid, an ultra-gentle alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that gently exfoliates for a smoother, more youthful appearance. Reviewers rave about its skin-quenching abilities, lasting power, mild scent, and non-greasy application. Just note that AHAs can make you sun- sensitive, so slather on the sunscreen afterward.
4 BESTSELLER Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Cream
Weleda’s Skin Food is a cult favorite, thanks to its natural ingredients, thick formula, and serious versatility. Slather this on any dry patch—whether it be on your face, elbows, hands, feet, or knees—and its base of oils and beeswax will get to work to repair and hydrate damaged skin.
5 La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Intense Repair Body Cream
Suitable to use on your face and body, La Roche-Posay’s heavy-duty cream utilizes shea butter, glycerin, and niacinamide (a B vitamin that reduces redness) for a soothing moisturizer that leaves dry skin feeling replenished and soft. Noncomedogenic and fragrance-free, this one is also accepted by the National Eczema Association, so it’s ideal for sensitive skin that tends to get red and itchy. Thick enough to heal dry patches, it still sinks right in for a barely-there finish, earning Dr. Marchbein’s stamp of approval.
6 Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
Recommended by Dr. Madfes, this fragrance-free lotion contains colloidal oatmeal, which has a soothing effect and reinforces skin’s barrier. Moisturizers like dimethicone, glycerin, and petrolatum smooth skin. What’s more, the noncomedogenic formula absorbs quickly, so you’re not left with that greasy feeling.
7 First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
This one isn’t just for your face—it can be used all over to truly repair angry skin. Dr. Gohara loves that it has ceramides, shea butter, and colloidal oatmeal, which work to soothe irritation, relieve itch, and leave the skin feeling healthy. It’s so good, it earned a spot in our 2020 Healthy Beauty Awards.
“I got this for my husband who has very dry skin and eczema. After a while of using it his hands have healed up great!” one reviewer raved. “If you have tried many many different lotions or creams but none have worked, then give this a try. ”
8 SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion
Packed with shea, mango, and cocoa butters, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, this deeply nourishing lotion keeps the driest skin looking supple and soft. Plus, testers rave about the light but pleasant scent.
9 Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream
This body cream may feel ultra-light, but it has heavy hydrating power. Infused with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, dimethicone, and petrolatum, it has all the key players needed to deliver moisture and lock it into the skin. Bonus: The formula is fragrance- and paraben-free and fast-absorbing so you’re never left with a sticky, smelly mess.
10 Jergens Shea Butter Deep Conditioning Moisturizer
Is there anything more luxurious than a lotion rich in creamy shea butter? This one is under $10, but easily restores dry skin for long-lasting radiance. It has a light-but-natural scent that’s never overpowering, too.
11 Kiehl’s Creme de Corps
If you prefer a richer, thicker lotion, this one from Kiehl’s is sure to please. Kiehl’s generally adds squalane to its products, an ingredient that acts as an emollient without a greasy feel. Creme de Corps also includes cocoa and shea butters, glycerin, several plant oils (like avocado and almond oils), and aloe vera to soothe and moisturize the driest, flakiest skin. If you love the formula but want something lighter, Dr. Madfes also recommends the spray-on body oil version of Creme de Corps, since it’s enriched with grapeseed oil and absorbs into skin quickly to boost suppleness.
12 Baby Dove Eczema Care Soothing Cream
If this ultra-gentle, creamy body lotion is good enough for a baby, it’s good enough for you! Packed with shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, and glycerin, it instantly works wonders on eczema-prone, irritated skin. The name says it all: Your skin will instantly feel “soothed” after you slather this on for a silky finish.
13 Avène Xeracalm A. D Lipid-Replenishing Balm
For especially sensitive skin types, this lotion from Avène wins a National Eczema Association seal of acceptance, as it’s suitable for eczema or atopic dermatitis-prone skin. That’s thanks to strong moisturizers (glycerin and mineral oil) and what it leaves out; it has no ingredients that can cause irritation, such as preservatives, parabens, or fragrances. This one pulls double duty, as you can use it on your face and body.
14 Curél Itch Defense Calming Body Lotion
Ceramides, Pro-Vitamin B5, and shea butter team up to provide instant relief for dry, itchy skin. The fragrance-free formula works on all skin types, even for those who struggle with eczema. In fact, it’s so gentle that you can use it on babies 6 months and up. “After about a week of applying this after my showers, I had no itching, no stinging on application, and my skin felt a whole lot more comfortable, ” one reviewer raved.
15 Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Reach for this body cream when you need an extra hit of hydration. Thanks to a combination of emollients like petrolatum (which create a protective barrier on the skin) and humectants like glycerin (which pull in moisture), “the intense, moisture-rich formula binds water to the skin and protects from dryness for 24 hours, ” says Dr. Bae. Fragrance-free, it’s good for sensitive skin. It also comes in a tube if you don’t love the tub packaging.
16 Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream
This ultra-nourishing, fragrance-free cream was specifically designed with eczema-prone people in mind. If you prefer a steroid-free formula, this one contains ceramides and colloidal oatmeal to seriously restore the skin’s barrier to calm redness, irritation, itchiness, and dryness. “I only really need to use it every couple of days and it clears my eczema up wonderfully. It has no scent and isn’t greasy, ” one tester wrote. “I don’t think I’ll go back to medication after this. ”
17 L’Occitane Moisturizing 15% Shea Butter Rich Body Lotion
With 15% shea butter, a pump of this lotion will deliver seriously soft skin (and protect the outer barrier at the same time). Apricot oil extract adds another layer of moisture, while vitamin E protects with antioxidants. Struggling with extremely dry hands? L’Occitane’s raved-about formula was also named one of the best hand creams for dry skin by Honayst.
18 Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion
This silky-smooth, non-greasy lotion hydrates the skin all day long, protects from chafing and cracking, and leaves skin feeling soft instead of sticky. Glycerin gives the formula extra slip, while vitamins E and B5 nourish and strengthen—earning it a spot in our 2019 Beauty Awards.
19 Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion
This pick is approved by Mona Gohara, M. D. , board-certified dermatologist and member of Honayst’s Medical Review Board. First, it smells absolutely divine (think almond extract), but the ingredients it packs are just as impressive. Marula butter, a ceramide blend, squalane, and shea butter join forces to protect the skin, rejuvenate dullness, and give a healthy glow.
20 EltaMD Lotion
This simple lotion is perfect for easily-irritated skin, as it’s fragrance-free, fast-absorbing, and ideal for rough spots. “This is the best lotion, possibly ever, ” one reviewer wrote. “I love how gentle and effective it is. The smell is barely there and it’s inoffensive to my sensitive nose. ”