The 22 Best Body Lotions, According to Dermatologists and Editors

Apply these non-greasy hydrators on repeat.

woman applying body lotion to her legs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A skincare routine is incomplete without a body care routine. Typically, facial skincare gets all the love and attention; we stock up on serums, creams, and sunscreens. And yet: All skin is skin—and the majority of it falls below the neck. While every regime will differ a little bit, it’s safe to say that hydration should be the baseline of your routine. That’s where the best body lotions swoop in.

“Sun damage, natural aging, and hormonal changes will all result in dry skin and contribute to itchy and aged appearing skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nava Greenfield. “Using a body product regularly can help mitigate these factors and keep skin healthy.” 

There’s an option for everyone—some are fragranced, others are not; a handful leave a shine on the skin, some dry down matte; a few are luxe splurges, while some you can scoop up at the drugstore. To find a body lotion that suits your skin, scroll ahead. I’ve spent the greater part of my days lathering up to determine the best 15 in existence. 

What to Look For

  • Ingredients 

With so many body lotions on the market, which list countless ingredients with unpronounceable names, it's difficult to determine which components to look for—and which to stay away from.

“Ingredients tell you if the lotion is going to address the specific concerns you want targeted in your body routine,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adeline Kikam. From a hydration standpoint, she recommends seeking out humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, urea), emollients (shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil), and ceramides. Having at least one of the above is a baseline for hydration.

Dr. Aya Ahram adds, "Look for a mixture of ingredients to help target moisture retention and water loss across the skin barrier: humectant ingredients—which draw in water from the air into the skin—such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, as well as occlusives, which seal water in the skin, like petrolatum and dimethicone." She also recommends "emollients, which provide moisture to the skin, like shea butter and ceramides."

And for more specific concerns like keratosis pilaris, callouses, or flakiness? She explains, "You can find body moisturizers that have ingredients such as urea, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or even retinol, to help with exfoliation while still helping with hydration. This can be helpful for patients with keratosis pilaris or even with the thicker, drier skin such as on the elbows, feet, knees."

Then comes the fun stuff. Your formula might come with antioxidants. “Vitamin E, C, and green tea extract for example have a dual purpose in preventing free radical damage and may also brighten and moisturize skin,” says Dr. Kikam. Your body lotion might have retinol in it as well, which is ideal for anti-aging. Or, maybe there’s an acid in the mix. “These are wonderful for those with acne prone skin, body hyperpigmentation, KP, and even psoriasis.” 

Meanwhile, if you're combatting body acne, Dr. Ahram advises using "a face moisturizer that is non-comedogenic or oil-free so that the moisturizer does not make acne worse."

What to Avoid

In terms of what to avoid, Dr. Ahram says, "In general, I don't love fragrance because it can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin or atopic dermatitis, as they already have a fragile skin barrier and I prefer to avoid ingredients that can cause irritation. Some can tolerate it without any negative side effects, but in general I do not recommend products that are heavily fragranced."

Double board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist Dr. Amy Wechsler also recommends "avoiding ingredients such as lactic acid and glycolic acid" if you're looking for something highly moisturizing that won't irritate your skin.

Finally, Dr. Greenfield says, “I like to see that there are no drying ingredients like alcohol or any strong fragrances that may cause reactions in the skin."

  • Texture 

When looking for the right moisturizer, it's best to consider the weight and texture you prefer. If you have extremely dry skin or are targeting dry areas like your heels and elbows, you may want a richer formula. On the other hand, many consumers prefer lightweight formulas on the whole because they absorb quickly and don't feel greasy.

"Using a light moisturizer is best to provide hydration, while avoiding any occlusion of the pores/follicles," says Dr. Ahram. "Avoid fragrance to prevent irritation or sensitivity of the skin, especially if using acne products with active ingredients which can be drying to the skin, to avoid any further irritation or dryness."

Dr. Wechsler adds, "The moisturizer should rub in well and not feel sticky."

By and large, a lotion is going to be a bit thinner and absorb into the skin faster than a rich cream. That being said, there’s still a wide range to choose from within the lotion category. “You can choose your texture based on season or weather—thicker consistencies are best for winter to help lock in moisture and lighter or thinner consistency in the summer when it’s hot,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adeline Kikam. Her advice: “Choose a texture that you enjoy applying and one that feels comfortable on your skin and is easy to spread.”

  • Scent 

Scan this list, and you’ll notice that a handful of the best body lotions are actually from fragrance-first brands. So, while you can opt for a fragrance-free formula that lets your perfume shine through or keep your sensitive skin happy, you also have the option to layer on a scented body lotion that will replace your go-to scent or enhance the one you wear.

Best Practices

When it comes to moisturizing, you should show your whole body some TLC. Dr. Wechsler attests, "I think the body should be moisturized every day, especially after a shower, and this is what I have always done."

But when slathering lotion all over your body, you may find that some areas need more attention than others.

"[Areas] most prone to dryness would be the elbows, knees, hands (frequent hand washing/sanitizing), feet, lower legs/ankles, and back (harder to reach), especially as we move into winter as we lose some of the humidity in the air and turn on our heaters," says Dr. Ahram. "Areas most prone to aging are the face, hands, neck, chest, and forearms due to constant sun exposure while out walking, driving."

Dr. Weschler seconds that the lower legs are often in need of extra moisture, but adds that "any part of the body could become dry"—so pay attention to what your body is telling you. The same goes for aging, which she explains "is closely connected to sun damage, so it will vary from person to person."

The Best Body Lotions

Meet the Dermatologists

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Dr. Nava Greenfield

Dr. Nava Greenfield is a dermatologist practicing at Schweiger Dermatology Group. Dr. Greenfield earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Queens College, City University of New York, where she graduated Cum Laude with honors in mathematics, natural sciences, chemistry and biochemistry. Dr. Greenfield attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. She completed her internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and her residency in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Greenfield has been published in many medical journals, including The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, the Journal of Women’s Dermatology and Pediatrics. Dr. Greenfield is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Women’s Dermatologic Society and the American Medical Association.

dr. kikam
Dr. Adeline Kikam

Dr. Adeline Kikam was inspired to become a dermatologist because of the struggles she faced with her own skin while growing up coupled with inaccessibility to dermatologic care. Combined, these experiences fueled her interest in decoding the vast and information-rich field that is dermatology as well as the desire to spread this wealth of knowledge. As part of this mission, Dr. Kikam launched Brown Skin Derm™ via social media at the beginning of her dermatology residency to fill the void of evidence-based information and candid, informative conversations. She’s leveraged social media to create a trusted space for expert-led skin care knowledge as well as highlight common dermatologic conditions and issues, providing greater access to care for melanin-rich skin and creating more equity in the skin care and beauty industries. She also lends her expertise and passion to advocating for improved representation of people of color in the larger discussion on skin care, ranging from information accuracy and accessibility to medical therapy and product formulation to consumer/patient engagement. In addition to discussing medical conditions, Dr. Kikam is experienced in the rapidly evolving world of aesthetic procedures, and she provides reviews on skin care products and features fellow dermatologists and organizations who offer resources for skin of color. Today, her followers are a diverse group of individuals hailing from all corners of the world, including Asians, Latinos, Africans, African-Americans, Middle Eastern, etc. Slowly but surely, the landscape of dermatology is changing and people of color everywhere are demanding to see themselves reflected in the way skin care is discussed. She recently contributed to a newly released comprehensive dermatology atlas that features common skin conditions presented across all Fitzpatrick skin types, a resource she never had during her medical training that is now available to all health care professionals. In 2022, she is launching SkinClusive Dermatology, an in-person and teledermatology clinic with a focus on medical, cosmetic, and hair restoration treatments as well as specialization in skin of color.

Dr. Amy Wechsler
Dr. Amy Wechsler, MD, FAAD

Dr. Amy Wechsler is a double board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist. In addition to practicing medicine, she hosts the 'Am I Embarrassing You?' podcast with her daughter. She is currently based in New York City.

Dr. Aya Ahram
Dr. Aya Ahram

Dr. Aya Ahram is a board-certified dermatologist currently working at Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery in New York City. She treats all skin types and conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and alopecia, and addresses aesthetic needs as well, including Botox, chemical peels, and microneedling.

Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.