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We all have a body lotion in our beauty arsenal. Whether it’s a bottle you quickly picked up at the drugstore or a sleek tube that you researched for hours before adding to your cart, we all use something to hydrate our skin daily. But—is it the right thing?
That depends on your preferences. A body lotion’s key benefit is to bring hydration back to your skin, but these days, more and more formulas are delivering added benefits. From improving your skin’s elasticity to reducing the look of cellulite, there’s a perfect, multitasking body lotion out there for you.
Ahead, the best body lotions that do it all—and more.
Best Overall: Nécessaire The Body Lotion
If the chic, nondescript packaging doesn’t do it for you, maybe the ingredients inside of it will. Packed with a plethora of vitamins, like A, B, C, and E, along with Omegas 6 and 9, antioxidants, niacinamide, and three luxurious oils—marula, cacay, and meadowfoam oils to be exact—this formula works hard for your skin. While it does what body lotions do best (moisturize your skin) it takes it up a notch and strengthens the skin’s barrier, improves tone and texture, and restores firmness.
Best Drugstore: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Packed with skin-loving hyaluronic acid, this hydrating formula targets your skin’s driest areas and restores them. We love that it can multitask—use it on your face, body, and hands—and that the lightweight formula keeps you moisturized for up to 24 hours.
Runner-Up, Best Drugstore: Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Body Lotion
This affordable pick from a classic drugstore brand is a favorite of Byrdie associate editor Eden Stuart. Cocoa and shea butters impart a heavy dose of moisture, while the added petroleum jelly (AKA vaseline) in the formula works to help seal that moisture. Translation: Skin stays smoother and softer, longer.
Best Splurge: Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion
After replenishing your skin with moisture, it must stay locked in. Enter: A quick-absorbing technology that keeps your skin soft and reduces the appearance of pigmentation and cellulite. Although it can be applied at any time, it feels ultra-soothing right after a day out in the sun. The best part? No fragrance whatsoever.
Best Shimmer: Glossier Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream
If we had to pick a lotion to apply right before going out, it’d be this one right here. (It’s one of Byrdie Senior Email Editor Karli Bendlin’s go-to's.) With light-reflecting particles (read: slight shimmer), it takes glowing to another level. Plus, it leaves no residue almost immediately after it’s applied—so you can literally slather, get dressed, and head out.
Best for Aging Skin: Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion
Ceramides are a part of a complex family of fats or lipids called a sphingolipid. They work to restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.
With five plant-derived ceramides and marula butter, this mighty lotion—another Xue favorite—provides your skin with an anti-aging boost. The ceramides work together to fill any spaces and create elasticity, while the marula butter moisturizes and protects.
Best With SPF: Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15
Wearing SPF all year round is suggested by almost, if not all, dermatologists. To make that step easier, this daily lotion adds a broad spectrum twist. SPF 15 protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays—just remember to reapply every two hours.
Best Scent: Byredo Body Lotion
Loved for its fragrances, Byredo has taken some of their popular scents and packaged them up in a vanity-worthy lotion bottle. According to reviewers, this lotion is equal parts heavenly and long-lasting. You’ll find that the fragrance can last all day—a nice treat after a long day at work.
Runner-Up, Best Scent: Epicuren Discovery Coconut After Bath Moisturizer
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.
I like to call this the “vacation in a bottle”. Armed with a tropical scent, this lotion’s got amino acids and shea butter to bring back your skin’s bounce and keep it plump. It’s best applied right after the shower—simply massage into damp skin and you’re good to go. It's one of Xue's favorites.
Best for Dry Skin: 54 Thrones African Beauty Butter
Massaging on this formula is like trying on silk—the texture is rich, but doesn’t feel heavy, and almost feels like it brings life back into your skin. Infused with a blend of Ugandan and Ghanaian shea butter, you can apply this hydrating cream all over your face and body.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Alba Botanica Very Emollient Original Body Lotion
Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. It mimics natural sebum and conditions and seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.
Tend to have fussy skin? This natural lotion—free of parabens and phthalates—boasts ingredients like jojoba seed oil and shea butter to soften and chamomile to soothe.
Best Nourishing: Kayo Body Beautiful Creme
Along with coconut oil and green tea, this smooth formula—beloved by Xue—delivers powerful antioxidant CoEnzyme Q10 that helps to replenish your skin. Apply right after taking a hot bath or shower, so the ingredients are better absorbed.
Best for Stretch Marks: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks
Give your marks some extra love and attention with this classic formula. Cocoa butter and shea butter not only soften your skin but also protects it during pregnancy. Vitamin E, a key ingredient, helps to decrease the look of marks and scars. Not just for pregnant bellies, you can apply this formula all over for smooth, supple skin.
Best In-Shower Formula: Olay Ultra Moisture In-Shower Lotion
If you’re crunched for time, an in-shower lotion could cut down your morning routine. After cleansing your body, apply this formula onto damp skin and then quickly rinse off. Pat dry gently—and marvel at your hydrated skin.
Best Budget: Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer
Besides coming in a big bottle with a nifty pump, this convenient moisturizer is beloved for many reasons. It’s moisturizing, thanks to its vitamin-enriched formula, and the scent is pleasant and doesn’t linger.
Best Butter: Kaike Frosting Decadent Hair & Body Butter
For stubborn dry patches, this rich butter literally takes the Kaike (get it?). Featuring mega-moisturizers like mango butter and coconut oil, this formula penetrates your skin and delivers some serious hydration. Is your hair feeling dry as well? Lucky for you, you can also slather this onto thirsty strands.
These days, body lotions do way more than hydrate (although they’re obviously great for that). We can’t get enough of Nécessaire The Body Lotion, a huge favorite among Byrdie editors, packed with hydrating and skin-loving ingredients. If you want to splurge, the Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion is worth every penny and helps reduce the look of pigmentation and cellulite, too. Opting for a lotion with SPF is always a good idea; the Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15 fits the bill. And the Olay Ultra Moisture In-Shower Lotion is an innovative formula that goes on (and gets rinsed off) while you’re still in the shower, great for those who don’t love applying lotion after the fact.
What to Look For In a Body Lotion
There are several different types of moisturizing ingredients out there, but according to board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, MD, Dr. Ife Rodney, humectants are the best ones to seek out in a body lotion. They attract moisture to and seal it in the skin, but are still lightweight and don’t feel heavy on the skin. Some of her favorites to look for include hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
If your skin is super dry, it’s not a bad idea to seek out a lotion that contains gentle chemical exfoliants, such as urea and/or alpha-hydroxy acids, advises Rodney.
Okay, not necessarily a must, but, “particularly for the summer months, it’s a great perk if your body lotion contains SPF. Your body needs sun protection too, so why not kill two birds with one stone?” says Rodney.
Can you put body lotion on your face?
It’s not a great idea. “Body lotions are usually thicker than face moisturizers and contain ingredients that are focused on driving as much moisture into the skin as possible. These thick lotions are too heavy for your face; especially If you have oily or acne-prone skin, constantly using body lotion could clog your pores and might be the reason you’re breaking out,” says Rodney. That being said, if you’re in a real pinch, she says you can make an exception and dilute a small amount of body lotion with equal parts water before applying it to your face.
Does body lotion expire?
Yes. “Just like all other products, body lotion can go bad. If it’s stored properly, away from heat and sunlight, it can last up to a few years. But eventually, it may become less effective and you may notice things like separation or a color change,” says Rodney. Theoretically, if you’re using a body lotion at least once a day, you shouldn’t have to worry about having one bottle long enough for that to happen.
What’s the difference between body cream and body lotion?
It comes down to ingredients and consistency. Creams have higher concentrations of hydrating ingredients and are thicker and richer, whereas lotions have higher amounts of water and are much lighter, Rodney explains. Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference, but, generally speaking, you may want to consider lotions in the summer and creams in the winter.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough body lotions from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.