I can’t remember where I first heard the phrase “treat your body as you would your face,” when it comes to skin care, but it stuck with me. It seems like obvious advice to take similar pains with the skin on your body as with your face, and yet I’ve never met a skincare person (myself included) who was as gung ho about finding the latest body butter, or wearing body lotion period, as they were about stocking up on face masks and serums.
Which is funny, since the benefits of wearing body lotion are the same as slathering on a face moisturizer. The most obvious one being that “it keeps skin smooth and supple, and maintains a healthy skin barrier,” as dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, tells us. It also means less post-shave itchiness and, as any older person can attest, your body will age better if you keep your skin hydrated. With that in mind, we asked four dermatologists for their recommendations for a range of skin types, so you can be just as picky with your body skin-care options.
For Dry Skin
Scaly skin is probably top of mind when you’re reaching for a body lotion, so first, Waldorf says it’s ideal to apply body lotion wet—i.e. when you’re hanging out in your towel post-shower—to seal in moisture better. People with dry skin and even more extreme cases of dry skin, like eczema, should also seek out ones rich in ceramides and hyaluronic acid, my experts tell me.
Melanie Palm—the medical director at Art of Skin MD—explains that ceramides (or, cholesterol-derived fat) help seal the skin barrier to keep in moisture, while hyaluronic acid is known to carry 1000 times its weight in water, so your skin stays extra hydrated. All my experts pointed me to this CeraVe lotion which contains both. It’s fragrance-free so it’s well-suited for sensitive skin types, and it doesn’t feel sticky or heavy on skin.
I’m also partial to this Aquation daily moisturizing lotion which has suited me better than any drugstore cream I’ve tried. It contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, and I love that it’s so lightweight that I don’t have to wipe off any gloopy excess after using it. It helps my skin stay hydrated in between showers, too, and helps me curb any itching after shaving.
Boca Raton dermatologist Jeffrey Fromowitz says this Eucerin dry skin lotion is another good fit for dry skin. It’s not only moisturizing (with added ceramides), but also gently exfoliates with some alpha hydroxy acids.
And though any of the above would work for someone with eczema, you might need something specifically suited to handle the itch, too. Waldorf recommends this oat-enhanced Dove body lotion catered to eczema sufferers. The colloidal oatmeal in it reduces itch, while glycerin draws and seals in moisture.
Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, pointed me to this Aveeno tub that also relies on colloidal oatmeal for curbing itch (and the reviews speak for themselves).
Writer Alexia Lafata says this is the only body lotion that’s cured the itch, when it comes to eczema. “Whenever I feel like I’m about to claw myself, I grab it, and in under two minutes (yes, the label’s right), I’m no longer itchy. Because there’s no hydrocortisone (a.k.a. steroid) in the CeraVe, I slather it on at will without fear of developing a dependency—the cream uses a calming ingredient called pramoxine hydrochloride instead.”
For Acne-Prone Skin
And because you want your body lotion to be hydrating but not exacerbate any body acne you may have, two experts—Jaliman and Waldorf—recommended CeraVe’s SA lotion because it contains salicylic acid, an exfoliant that’s been clinically proven to help with acne.
For Keratosis Pilaris
For conditions like keratosis pilaris—which consist of “plugs” of cells in hair follicles, often on the upper arms and thighs—exfoliation is key here, too. Fromowitz says you should look for creams that include exfoliants like lactic, salicylic, or glycolic acid, and prescription-grade products for more severe cases.
This Amlactin lotion which Waldorf suggested contains lactic acid (which you might recognize if you’re a Sunday Riley fan). Incidentally, the Eucerin on this list also contains lactic and glycolic acid, so you could start there first and try this if you want something stronger.
We would also recommend this exfoliating body lotion which contains 12 percent glycolic acid, so it’ll have some extra-potent exfoliants in there, plus dimethicone to smooth over skin.
For Firmer, Plumper Skin
Overall, Palm says there’s no better anti-ager than sunscreen. But because you might want a night cream situation while you sleep, you could also look to retinol creams and gentle chemical exfoliants that will help increase cell turnover, for renewed, softer looking skin. Replenix is a routine favorite of dermatologists, and this one came recommended by Jaliman for the retinol in it that will reduce the appearance of fine lines and plump up skin.
Another option for firmer skin, “Neostrata skin smoothing lotion contains alpha hydroxy acids which help improve sun damage via improved cell turnover, for smoother skin with less pigmentation,” says Waldorf.
Neocutis is another dermatologist favorite (its eye cream is a perennial best-seller). And the Biobody is pricey, but Waldorf says it does contain many skin-friendly ingredients, to its credit: the brand’s signature skin proteins, plus salicylic acid and ceramides to help improve skin tone, texture, and hydration.
Correction, July 26, 2018: This piece originally misstated the name of the Dove DermaSeries Eczema Relief soothing body lotion.