With more skin on show in the summer heat, you may be on the hunt for a body lotion to improve your skin’s overall quality, or you may just want to combat a specific condition. According to dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, body lotion “keeps skin smooth and supple and maintains a healthy skin barrier.” But as with any skin-care product, the texture, ingredients, and overall benefits of each lotion vary wildly from bottle to bottle.
You need to focus on what your skin needs, especially if it’s to combat a specific condition. For example, most lotions will have moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid, but those with drier skin types will want to look out for formulas high in ceramides, whereas those prone to body acne will want something with salicylic acid. If it’s a fast-drying or nongreasy option you’re after, lotions with ingredients such as aloe are ideal as they’re light on the skin and therefore absorb faster. And it’s important to consider what texture of lotion feels best to you — for example, you may prefer a thick glossy balm to a runny lightweight body milk.
With these questions in mind, we asked seven dermatologists for their body-lotion recommendations for a variety of skin types, and we also combed through the Strategist archives. Before you read on for the picks, one final note: No matter which bottle you opt for, Waldorf advises applying the body lotion when wet — say, when you’re hanging out in your towel post-shower — to better seal in the moisture.
Best overall | Best itch-relieving | Best for acne-prone skin | Best for keratosis pilaris | Best for sensitive skin | Best for dry skin | Best lightweight alternative for dry skin | Best self-tanning | Best nongreasy | Best scented
What we’re looking for
Moisturising ingredients: All good body lotions should deeply moisturise the skin, which entirely depends on its ingredients. To quench even the driest skin, including eczema, experts recommend products rich in ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Melanie Palm, the medical director at Art of Skin MD, explains that ceramides help retain moisture by sealing the skin barrier, whilst hyaluronic acid is able to carry 1,000 times its weight in water, making sure skin stays extra hydrated.
Different skin types and conditions will demand different ingredients. Acne-prone skin, for example, is better suited to lotions with an exfoliant (such as salicylic acid). We’ve read the back of each bottle (and tub and tube) to identify which ingredients it contains and how effectively they’ll moisturise each type of skin. We are looking for products that have ceramides and hyaluronic acid mentioned in the first two ingredients listed.
Fast drying: Another thing to consider is how the lotion actually feels on your skin. Are you someone who abhors slathering something oily all over your body or waiting ages for creams to dry? We’ve researched how lightweight each lotion is to ascertain how long it will take to absorb and how it sits on the skin.
Value for money: As body lotion is something that’s used in large quantities, you’ll be repurchasing often. This means you’ll want to look for two things: value for money, and in turn, minimum wastage. Jumbo-size bottles of lotion are often much cheaper and will give you longer intervals before having to be repurchased (providing the product doesn’t outlast its shelf life). To minimise waste, you’ll want to look at the type of bottle the lotion is sold in; for example, a few pumps from a bottle might waste less product than hefty scoops from a tub. We’ve flagged when an alternate bottle or size is available for each product, so you can choose from family-size tubs or smaller bottles.
Fragrance (skin-type suitability): Fragrance-free lotion is desirable for a couple of reasons. First, fragrances can irritate sensitive skin, which is both frustratingly uncomfortable and entirely counterintuitive. Second, scent is a matter of personal preference, so one expert’s favoured fragrance might not be quite as pleasing to another — or to you. Unless stated otherwise, each lotion on this list is fragrance free. Where a fragrance has been included, we’ve made sure to double-check that no offensive sulphates or parabens have been snuck in alongside.
Best overall body lotion
Great value | Hyaluronic acid | Pump
Six out of eight of the experts we spoke to recommended this daily lotion from CeraVe. It’s rich in both ceramides and hyaluronic acid, making it suitable for conditions like eczema, whilst being fragrance free, meaning those with more sensitive skin can use it. It’s lightweight and oil free, meaning it absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel sticky when applied. Cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green praises it highly: “CeraVe is the best overall body lotion. It is safe for all skin types and packed with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and humectants to keep the most sensitive skin hydrated.” The lotion can be purchased in either a small (236 milliletre) or a large (473 milliletre) pumpable bottle.
Dermatologist Jeffrey Fromowitz told us about this Eucerin dry-skin lotion. Like CeraVe, it moisturises (with added ceramides) but also gently exfoliates with alpha hydroxy acids. It can be bought as a body lotion or as a hand or foot lotion.
Best itch-relieving body lotion
Great value | Colloidal oats | Tub
When we’ve reached out to dermatologists in the past about the best treatments for eczema, Aveeno’s products were highly recommended. Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends its eczema-therapy cream as it contains itch-relieving oatmeal, ceramides and infection-preventing benzoic acid. However, it is hard to track down. Instead, we like this readily available Aveeno balm. It’s approved by the National Eczema Association and also uses oats, ceramides, and benzoic acid to quell eczema-related itchiness. Aveeno reviewers with eczema have praised the brand for helping to wean them away from more intense steroid-based sprays and creams. And whilst this balm is tailor-made for eczema, it will work on any dry-skin discomfort.
Best body lotion for acne-prone skin
Great value | Ceramides | Salicylic acid | Tube or tub
Containing salicylic acid — an exfoliant that’s been clinically proven to curb acne — the CeraVe SA lotion hydrates without provoking any existing body acne. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which retains moisture, and lactic acid, which (gently) removes dead skin cells. The fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and nonirritating lotion is recommended by Jaliman and Waldorg. As well as the standard tub, the cream can be bought in a squeezy tube from select retailers.
Best body lotion for keratosis pilaris
Nongreasy | Lactic acid | Pump
Keratosis pilaris is caused by a buildup of “plugs” of keratin within the skin and, whilst largely harmless, can result in pesky bumps and patches of dry skin. To treat the condition, Fromowitz recommends creams with exfoliants such as lactic, salicylic, or glycolic acid. The AmLactin lotion, recommended by Waldrof, actually contains both lactic and glycolic acid, so it’s a great place to start. If, however, your case is more severe, seek a prescription from a doctor.
Best body lotion for sensitive skin
Good value | Ceramides | Tub, tube, or pump
Sensitive skin can mean anything from skin which is irritated and red to skin with breakouts and hives. Green and Engelman recommend this gentle, fragrance-free Cetaphil lotion. Green says the ceramides and essential fatty acids in the cream “create a barrier that protects skin from environmental stressors while replenishing lost moisture”. As the product is so creamy and rich, it’s more suited for winter months, when the waft of radiators and chill from frost exacerbates the zapping of moisture from everybody’s skin. Cetaphil’s moisturising cream can be bought in a tub, a squeezy tube, or a pump bottle.
Best for dry skin
Good value | Ceramides | Tub, tube, or pump
Whilst there are a host of body lotions geared towards dry skin, one simple fragrance-free cream from CeraVe was unanimously recommended by a range of experts. According to dermatologist Dr. Melissa K. Levin, the founder of Entière Dermatology, this cream immediately soothes irritated skin with hyaluronic acid — an “an incredibly effective humectant” that can “attract hydration to the skin’s surface but also retain that moisture as well”. Strategist contributor Daniela Morosini recommends this product for its non-stickiness and appealingly low price tag.
Best lightweight alternative for dry skin
Non-sticky | Cocoa butter | Spray
If you’re searching for something more lightweight for dry skin, Vaseline’s spray moisturiser comes out on top, as recommended by Strategist UK intern Fern McErlane. It leaves skin glossy, nonsticky and residue free. The spray nozzle allows for direct application to target areas (and adds a touch of fun to your routine), with its efficient twist-cap stopping it from leaking or misfiring in your bag.
An added bonus is this product range’s buttery chocolate scent. However, if your skin is both dry and sensitive, the fragrance here may well irritate it or cause a reaction, so the CeraVe lotion may be a better option.
Best self-tanning body lotion
Gradual tan | Apricot oil | Tube
If, like me, you’re dedicated to topping up your fake tan on the regular, a good body lotion will help to maintain that summery glow without leaving a white cast or dulling skin. I use Garnier’s “Gradual Tan” body lotion on uneven areas when my own tan begins to fade. With a lightweight formula, you need only one layer, which dries quickly on skin.
Best nongreasy body lotion
Aloe | Cucumber | Pump
For those who have oilier skin or squirm at the feeling of being slathered in lotion, Jaliman recommends the Suave body lotion. It contains aloe and cucumber, ingredients that are “moisturising and great for irritated skin without being too heavy”. Overall, he says the lotion is “light in texture and nongreasy”.
Best scented body lotion
Fragranced | Jojoba oil | Pump
The Ellis Brooklyn body milk is a concoction of cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil, macadamia-nut oil, camellia oil, and aloe-leaf juice, which work in conjunction to deeply nourish the skin. Whilst we can’t guarantee that the scented lotion is suitable for sensitive skin, we can confirm that it has not been made with potentially reactive ingredients — such as sulphates and parabens. Of all the potential scents to purchase the body milk, Engelman’s pick is Verb. She describes it as “a gorgeous unisex citrus-sandalwood scent”.
This lotion from Candour Beauty is fragranced, but the brand describes it as being only “delicately scented”. The lotion is made of safflower oil, an essential high in omega-6, which is known to help reduce inflammation on the skin. It has been specifically formulated for darker skin tones and offers up to a full day of moisture from a single application.
Dendy Engelman, celebrity dermatologist
Jeffrey Fromowitz, dermatologist at Dermatology of Boca
Michele Green, cosmetic dermatologist
Debra Jaliman, board-certified private dermatologist
Melissa K. Levin, founder of Entière Dermatology
Melanie Palm, medical director at Art of Skin MD
Heidi Waldorf, founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.