If you’ve been keeping up with my articles, you know I’m addicted to glitter. I tend to keep it on my nails (best glitter nail polish shades of 2017 and best holographic nail polish colors) but I don’t want you think that’s the only way I get glitzy.
Glitter is magical and fun and I’m of an age that back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s we put it on everything. It was bad–and awesome. I had thick glitter lipstick, body spray, and I even had this gel silver glitter “eye shadow” that was so chunky that it crunched when I blinked. Basically, we looked like we’d gotten into a fight with a kindergarten class on arts and crafts day.
I bring it up because that’s why a lot of people shy away from shimmer lotion, but that is absolutely not what shimmer lotion is at all.
Glitter makes you sparkle. Shimmer lotion makes you glow. There’s a huge difference. Shimmer lotions make your skin look radiant and highlighted, like you’ve just gotten out of the ocean on a summer day. It’s a sensual, fire-lit glow that slims and warms your complexion. It can brighten your skin and give it more of a youthful, healthy look. Think less glittery and more iridescence–which I’m also really into so see my guide to the best iridescent nail polish colors of 2017.
Some shimmer lotions are bold in their sparkle and others are more subtle. There are some that people would barely notice other than to see your skin is looking healthy and firm. Other shimmer lotions can give you a starlight sparkle in the light. So you’ve got a range to pick from whether you’re worried you’ll look like a disco ball or you’re hoping for that magical sparkle.
These lotions, with a couple of exceptions, aren’t a substitute for your daily hydrating body lotions. Shimmer lotions are more for when you’re going out. It’s body makeup and that’s its main purpose. For dry skin, you want a dedicated body milk, body lotion, body cream, or body butter–depending on your moisture needs. Read my guides to the best body milks of 2017, best body lotions of 2017, best body creams of 2017, and best body butters of 2017 for suggestion and tips.
Also, for folks that tend to need deep moisturizers because lighter lotions can leave your skin looking thirsty, shimmery body oils are also an option. I’ll be doing a post on them soon.
How and where to apply shimmer lotion.
Shimmer lotions are perfect for legs, arms, shoulders, and collarbones. It adds that healthy glow and shines when you move. But really, you can use it anywhere you’d like to have a little bit of shimmer. Just don’t get it in your eyes.
As far as how, you’ll want to check the products themselves for instructions as they’re all going to be a little different in formula. Some people say it’s best to apply the shimmer after you get dressed so you don’t rub it off as you’re getting into your clothes and others say you should apply it before you’re dressed and let it completely dry so you’re not handling liquid shimmer around the clothes you’re going out in. I think it depends on you and your shimmer lotion. Me, personally, I say apply it after you’re dressed. That way you know what skin is going to be showing.
Are there different Types?
Shimmer lotions come in different colors and in different size grains. The color shimmer tends to be in the metallic spectrum from silver to gold to copper. If you were hoping it came in blue or hot pink, you’re probably looking for body glitter. I’ve got a post in the works on that so stay tuned. As far as the formula, larger grains will look more like flecks and smaller grains can be nearly invisible. This will decide how subtle or sparkly your shimmer lotion will look.
Which is right for my skin tone?
Shimmer is for everyone but like all makeup, different colors will look different depending on the canvas. Cooler colors, like silver, will give your skin a cooler cast and warm colors, like copper, will have more of a bronzing effect. In general, lighter skin tones work best with silver to gold to rose gold and those with a more melanin rich complexion do best with rose gold to copper to bronze. That said, wear whatever color you like best.
What if I want to feel like a glittery, walking disco ball?
That’s fabulous and some days I’m right there with you. Some shimmer lotions are buildable so if you go back in and apply a second or third layer, even as only a highlight, you’ll be greatly increasing your sparkle. For true magical unicorn sparkle, read my guide to the best body glitter products.
But we’re talking shimmer here so let’s get to the best body shimmer lotions of 2017.
1. Juicy Skin Care’s Gold Glitter Up
To start right out this is a subtle gold shimmer that works with nearly all skin tones to create a warm, sun-kissed glow. Juicy Skin Care’s Gold Glitter Up has a silky texture that absorbs quickly into your skin so there’s no greasy residue. It doesn’t have an obvious sparkle so if you’re looking to go bold, this probably isn’t for you. But if all you want is that elegant glow, Gold Glitter Up is a smart choice for a wide range of skin tones. I will tell you though, when you squeeze some out the first time, you’re going to be nervous because it’s really yellow. It’s basically mustard yellow and you’ll think there’s no way this doesn’t make me look ill, but trust me, it rubs in and the yellow transforms into that sexy sheen.
As far as the moisturizing portion of this lotion, it contains macadamia nut oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera making this a soothing after-sun lotion so you can take that beach glow with you after you’ve left the ocean. The scent is lightly fruity and a little floral, but light enough that it won’t interfere with a personal fragrance if you wear one. This body shimmer lotion also comes in silver, but I strongly recommend going for the gold shimmer. The silver in this brand doesn’t really do enough to justify the price.
- Works on a wide range of skin tones
- Hydrating macadamia nut oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera
- Subtle glow with no chunky glitter
- Paraban free
- Pump bottle is hard to travel with
2. L’Occitane Shimmering Cherry Blossom Body Lotion
L’Occitane is a French brand that is known for their moisturizing lotions and dreamy fragrances. I’ve featured L’Occitane in several of my articles include by best home fragrance products guide because they can really nail a perfect scent. This Shimmering Body Lotion from their Cherry Blossom line doesn’t disappoint. The fragrance is sweetly floral with that hint of spring cherry. It’s a stronger scent so you’d likely be wearing this alone and not on top of perfume. The shimmer is very subtle and lends your skin a warm luminescence when you move in the light. It may not be shimmery enough for everyone. This lotion lightly hydrates with shea butter, grape seed oil, and includes skin conditioning extracts of rosemary and bitter cherry.
- Gives skin a subtle luminescence
- Hydrating shea butter and sunflower seed oil
- Nourishing extracts of rosemary and bitter cherry
- Beautiful cherry blossom fragrance
- Contains mineral oil
- Shimmer may be too subtle for some
3. Simply Radiant’s Glimmer Goddess Illuminating Whipped Body Butter
If you’re hoping for a little more spangle than just a subtle glow, then you may be looking for Simply Radiant’s Glimmer Goddess Illuminating Whipped Body Butter. This shimmer gives that luminous glow but also has larger flecks that glint in the light for a slightly glittery effect. It’s a much more intensely hydrating moisturizer as well. Body butters have lower water to oil ratios, or in this case, no water at all. (Learn more about body butters in my best body butters of 2017 article.)
This makes Glimmer Goddess a good choice for people who tend to need thicker, more moisturizing lotions and don’t want to have to double up with their regular lotion. This butter has six ingredients and only one of them isn’t certified organic–and that’s the mica powder but I’m fairly certain no one is spraying down rocks with pesticides. For deep hyration this butter combines shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and almond oil.
This is a much more noticable shimmer and comes in four different shades: gold, rose gold, bronze, and diamond. The gold and rose gold are great options for all skin tones. Diamond is the most subtle of the bunch and is more of a shimmery glow rather than sparkly flecks. The bronze shimmer butter has a similar shimmer to the gold, but the whipped butter has a bronzing effect that will give your skin the appearance of a light suntan. This shimmer is unscented which can be awesome if you’re sensitive to fragrances or it can be a bit of a bummer if you’re used to your lotions smelling delicious.
- Bolder sparkling flecks
- Four shades to choose from
- Deeply moisturizing shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil
- Silky whipped texture
- Made in small batches
- Some may miss fragrance
- Moisture too heavy for some
Find more Simply Radiant’s Glimmer Goddess Illuminating Whipped Body Butter information and reviews here.
4. Hempz Coconut Fusion Herbal Shimmering Body Souffle
For something in the middle, Hempz Coconut Fusion Herbal Shimmering Body Souffle has a shimmering glow with a hint of slightly larger flecks. This one has more of a twinkling starlight effect compared to larger flecks or just a subtle glow. It’s a more intense moisturizer compared to the shimmers that are labeled lotions with deeply hydrating shea butter, sunflower seed oil, hemp seed oil, sweet almond oil, aloe vera, and beeswax. The texture is smooth and decadent and the fragrance has a tropical pina colada scent that has you feeling like you’re at the beach. The shimmer in this has a bit of a silver cast to it so keep that in mind when matching to your complexion. Some people have found that the shimmer is prone to rubbing off on things but others haven’t had an issue.
Price: $9.12 (51 percent off MSRP)
- Sparkling starlight with low shimmer
- Luxurious texture
- Moisturizing shea butter, hemp seed oil, and aloe vera
- Smells like a beachy cocktail
- Not vegan (beeswax)
- More prone to shimmer transfer
5. Whish Coconut Milk CC Body Cream
The Coconut Milk CC Body Cream has a unique type of shimmer to it as well as a subtle bronzer included. The shimmer in this one is closer to an iridescent effect rather than spangly glitter flecks. Before it’s completely rubbed in, it reminds me of unicorn skin paper, and who doesn’t want to be mistaken for a unicorn? It’s a slightly different look, along with a gentle bronzer, that gives a healthy glow to your skin. It has a creamy texture that’s in between a body butter and a body lotion with moisturizing shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera. As a color correcting cream (CC cream) this one is very subtly tinted and contains botanical extracts to balance, soothe, and improve the texture of your skin. This includes extracts of lemon balm, satsuma peel, cowslip, yarrow, and peppermint. The thing I can’t seem to find in here is coconut milk which I was expecting since it’s called a Coconut Milk CC Body Cream, but it does have a lovely coconut fragrance.
- Iridescent sheen
- Color correcting bronzer
- Nourishing botanicals
- Never tested on animals
- Made in America
- Free of parabens, sulfates, petroleum products, phthalates, and DEA’s
- Not everyone wants a bronzer
- Contains palm oil
6. Jane Iredale Golden Shimmer Face & Body Lotion
This shimmer lotion is light enough that you can use it as a face and body highlighter to give you a warm glow. It’s a unique feature as many of the heavier shimmer lotions are simply too oily to use on your face, especially if you’re prone to breakouts like me. Another subtle shimmer option, this one isn’t overly glittery and works instead to improve the appearance of your skin by reflecting more light, giving you an airbrushed effect. There’s a natural looking tan tint to this lotion that enhances the warm glow. To nourish your skin, this lotion is packed wth botanical extracts including white tea, green tea, honeysuckle, elderflower, apple, blackberry, and radish root. Because it’s light enough for your face, some may find that this isn’t hydrating enough for their body so don’t count on this one completely replacing your moisturizing routine.
- Natural sun-kissed glow
- Loads of botanical extracts including white tea, grapefruit peel, and elderflower
- Gluten, paraben, and sulfate free
- Can be used as both face and body highlighter
- Not moisturizing enough for some
7. Melanie Mills Hollywood Moisturizing Gleam Body Radiance
The Melanie Mills Hollywood Moisturizing Gleam Body Radiance lotion comes in four shades: Rose Gold, Disco Gold, Bronze Gold, and Deep Gold. It’s a multi-purpose lotion that can be used as a shimmer or a light bronzer both on your body and face. On your arms and legs it gives a beautiful natural glow without large glittery flecks. On your face it can be used as an all-over bronzing moisturizer or as a shimmering highlighter. Olive oil, jojoba oil, safflower seed oil, and aloe vera moisturize and extracts of seaweed, white tea, and green tea improve the texture of your skin. If you’re not entirely sure which color is right for you, Melanie Mills offers a Gleam on the Go Pack that has travel sizes of the rose gold, bronze gold, and deep gold shades.
- Golden, highlighting glow
- Works as face and body highlighter
- Calming white and green tea extracts
- Bronzing effect
- Great for people of color
- Several shades to pick from
- Not everyone wants a bronzer
- Needs to be shaken up
8. Eminence Blueberry Shimmer Body Lotion
An organic skincare company, Eminence’s Blueberry Shimmer Body Lotion is full of hydrating oils and nourishing botanical extracts, with the addition of a very subtle shimmer. This is another lotion that gives more of a glowing look than a sparkle but it’s unique because it includes pineapple extract which has enzymes that break down proteins. This improves skin texture by acting as a very mild, natural chemical peel by gently breaking down built up dead, dry skin cells to reveal the softer skin underneath. For more about how body peels work, see my guide to the best body peels. Shea butter, soybean oil, and corn germ oil hydrate while blueberry juice, substituted for water, acts as a natural astringent to tighten pores. It’s artificial fragrance free and has a natural fruity, blueberry scent.
- Natural glow
- Gentle chemical peel
- Hydrating shea butter
- Antioxidant rich blueberry juice
- Pump isn’t easy to travel with
- Not moisturizing enough for some
- Not everyone wants the chemcial peel action
- Not vegan (beeswax)
9. Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion
This lotion from Burt’s Bees is very subtle until you get into the sunshine where the mica really shines. I would place this right in the middle shimmer-wise since it’s subtle and then not-so-subtle depending the lighting. Sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, soy bean oil, canola oil, aloe vera, and beeswax hydrate and seal in moisture while botanical extracts like sage, chamomile, rosemary, and nettle nourish and condition your skin.
This lotion includes royal jelly which is known to have antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. It’s also thought to support collagen production and reduce inflammation when applied to skin. That said, that does make this one very not vegan-friendly. Royal jelly is a substance produced by bees that is fed to all baby bees for their first few days, but only larvae chosen to be the new queen are fed royal jelly their entire lifespan. What is it? It’s a secretion from glands in a worker bee’s head. But keep in mind that honey is basically bee vomit so context is key. My only other issue is the packaging is difficult to deal with and the lotion can be hard to squeeze out if you have hand troubles.
Price: From $9.49
- Subtle glow that sparkles in the sun
- Contains coconut oil, aloe vera, beeswax, and royal jelly
- Nourishing botanical extracts
- Light floral scent
- Not vegan (beeswax and royal jelly)
- The tube is too stiff
10. Olay Quench Shimmer Body Lotion
This one doesn’t so much make your skin look shimmery as it gives your skin almost a satiny sheen. As a trusted drugstore brand, you sort of know by now how your skin responds to Olay and whether or not you love their signature cocoa butter scent. If you like their other products but want that extra glow, they have you covered. The shimmer is extremely subtle and really only visible in good lighting. This isn’t the product for you if you’re looking for even a gentle sparkle. It is very moisturizing with cocoa butter, jojoba seed oil, and glycerin. It also contains petroleum which does a very good job of sealing in moisture but can also tend to be a little greasy. But if you’re on a budget or you’re not sure if the shimmer look will be too much, the Olay Quench Shimmer Body Lotion is a good option to try out first before you invest in a more sparkly, higher end product.
- Barely there sheen
- Classic brand
- Moisturizing cocoa butter and jojoba oil
- The Olay fragrance is hit or miss
- Contains petroleum products, parabens, and PEG’s