We put our skin through a lot. It deserves the best body lotion out there.
Your skin is constantly losing moisture from your body, migrating out of your skin and evaporating into the air, and that’s normal.
But sometimes your skin loses moisture faster than your body can replace it. Whether it’s from dry heat, winter chapping, or air conditioning, dry air can sap moisture from your cells so quickly that they become parched leading to flaky, itchy, and uncomfortable skin. When this happens we reach for our body lotion.
How do moisturizers work?
Because throwing water on our skin won’t actually make it less dry (which really confused me as a kid) we need moisturizers to help us out. There are three methods to moisturizing skin and it’s all to do with certain types of ingredients.
Occlusives. These moisturizing ingredients work by forming a barrier over the top layer of your skin to keep water from escaping. It’s like putting a cap on your water bottle to keep it from evaporating. Occlusives are extremely effective, but also thick and greasy. They include ingredients like petroleum, mineral oil, silicones, stearyl alcohol, and vegetable waxes.
Emollients. Unlike occlusives, which form a barrier on top of your skin, emollients soak into your skin and form a barrier there to keep moisture from evaporating while making your skin feel fantastically soft to boot. Emollients are things like olive oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil.
Humectants. The two methods above work because these chemicals repel water and keep it from passing through them. Humectants love water. These ingredients soak into your skin and pull and hold moisture to them. Humecants are things like honey, aloe vera, glycerin, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid.
Most moisturizers make use of ingrdients from two or all three of these groups in order to get a balance of hydration without being too greasy.
Aren’t all body lotions pretty much the same?
Nope. Different parts of your body have different needs and sensitivities.
Using your body butter on your face, for example, is a recipe for instant acne–but using your facial moisturizer on your dry feet, won’t even put a dent in those cracked heels.
There are five main types of body moisturizers categorized by their balance of water to oil: lotions, creams, butters, oils, and milks.
Body milk is the thinnest of the body moisturizers. It has a high water to oil ratio so if you squeeze out some body milk onto a surface it will spread around closer to a liquid instead of holding its shape.
They soak into skin quickly and, as you may have guessed from the name, most contain higher amounts of milk proteins or lactic acid. Body milk is great for everything except your face, but it won’t be hydrating enough very dry skin. It’s a perfect regular treatment for your skin when dryness isn’t a huge problem.
Body lotion is thicker than body milk and has an almost gel like consistency. This is the one everyone knows and that you can find all over the mall in a thousand different scents. The balanced ratio of water to oils makes body lotion great for everyday use from fingers to feet.
Body creams are thicker yet, with a higher oil to water ratio than body milks and lotions. Where milks are more like water with some oils mixed in, creams are generally oils with a little water mixed in. They are super silky, hydrating and ideal for regular use on dry skin.
Body butters are as thick as it gets. They generally come in tubs, have little to no water content, and feel like well, butter. For the most part, body butters are some type of butter like shea butter or cocoa butter suspended in a carrier oil. They are ultra-hydrating and great for a rescue moisturizer for dry, itchy skin when other lotions don’t cut it.
Body oils are as pure as a moisturizer gets. They’re oil mixtures, usually in a spray, that deeply hydrate your skin and give it a soft, glow. The downside is they don’t soak in quickly so they’re more of a self-pampering evening type of thing and less of an out the door type of thing.
I use body lotions everyday. They’re an awesome all around moisturizer that works on hands, feet, legs, arms, and torso. A quality body lotion soaks in quickly and shouldn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. Let’s look at the best body lotion of 2018 and bask in descriptions of the yummy fragrances.
1. Antica Farmacista Body Moisturizer in Lemon, Verbena & Cedar
Antica Farmacista is a Seattle-based fragrance house with lovely scents that are uplifting and bright. Some days I prefer the lighter fragrance of a lotion instead of an eau de parfum so I’m excited that Antica Farmacista has gotten into the body lotion game.
This is a very light lotion that never feels heavy or greasy. It has a silky, slip to it that spreads smoothly and sinks in well. It has a great mix of moisturizers with apricot oil, almond oil, shea butter, aloe vera, honey, and silicones to seal in the moisture.
Silk protein and extracts of clover flower, rosemary, lavender, and green tea provide strength and antioxidants.
The Lemon, Verbena & Cedar fragrance has a bright citrusy pop that deepens to verbena, lemongrass, and warm cedarwood.
- Almond and apricot oils
- Many scents to choose from
- Pump bottles are hard to travel with
- Great lotion but emphasis is on fragrance
2. Ahava Mineral Botanic Velvet Body Lotion in Lotus & Chestnut
Ahava is a skincare brand with a dedicated following and for good reason. Their mineral botanic body lotions are smooth, creamy, and leave your skin feeling addictively velvet soft.
These mineral lotions are made with Dead Sea minerals which help your skin absorb and hold onto more moisture in the long run. The lotion is light, but not too light to lose that luxuriant texture to it.
Deeply hydrating ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera, glycerin, lactic acid, and silicone pull and trap moisture in your skin. Botanical extracts of lotus flower and chestnut support the health and healing of your skin in a natural way to reduce irritated redness.
- Dead sea minerals
- Scents to choose from
- Never greasy
- Contains healing botanicals
- Paraben free
- Pump bottles don’t travel well
- Fragrance can be a little strong for some
Find more Ahava Mineral Botanic Velvet Body Lotion in Lotus & Chestnut information and reviews here.
3. Glycolix 15 Percent Body Lotion
This body lotion by Glycolix combines rich moisturizers with chemical exfoliation for soft fresh skin. When you skin is chapped, it feels rough and flaky because the dried out dead skin cells that your body should be naturally shedding, haven’t. They’re stuck there, making your skin feel thick and dry.
Chemical exfoliation, or chemical peels, use natural acids derived from foods to break down old, dead skin cells and reveal the fresh, soft skin underneath. For more info on how chemical peels work and how amazing they can be for your body, read my Best Body Peels guide.
Glycolic acid, derived from sugar, is one of the best peels for your body and this body lotion contains 15 percent of it. This means while the moisturizers, vitamins, and green tea extract are hard at work on your living skin, the glycolic acid is breaking apart the dry dead skin. This combination leads to softer, younger looking skin.
The glycolic acid helps remove signs of sun damage, prevents ingrown hairs, lighten hyper-pigmentation, and even helps get rid of keratosis pilaris–those annoying skin bumps you get on the backs of your arms. It’s unscented and a little on the thick side which I think is a plus.
Because of the 15 percent glycolic acid, this might not be a lotion you want to apply several times a day, but more as a treatment a couple of times a week.
- 15 percent glycolic acid
- Reduces skin discoloration and bumps
- Gently removes dry skin
- Botanicals and vitamins support skin health
- Not scented
- Needs a couple applications to see results
- Strong stuff not for heavy use
- Contains parabens
4. Archipelago Havana Body Lotion
Archipelago is one of my favorite fragrance and skincare brands right now, and not just because the name is fun to say. I think they are able to juggle that balance of complex, interesting fragrances while still making sure their skincare products would be amazing even if they didn’t have any scent at all.
Their Havana Body Lotion is a perfect example of this. Archipelago’s multidimensional Havana fragrance is inspired by 1940’s Havana, Cuba with bergamot, tobacco flower, bitter orange oil, and notes of honeysuckle.
It’s warm like a lazy summer day and slightly musky in a way that works for all genders. If you’re looking for a very girly scent, this might not be for you.
The lotion itself uses jojoba oil esters and coconut oil esters. The esters of an oil are the parts that your body can absorb and use so by extracting and including only the esters, you’re only giving your skin what it needs so you won’t have that greasy residue of oil molecules your body can’t absorb.
For greater hydration, there’s also sunflower seed oil, silicone, and glycerin. Botanicals like coffee extract, tangerine peel extract, pomegranate extract, and vitamin E support skin health and act as a very mild chemical exfoliator leaving skin smooth and fresh.
- Complex, layered, gender-neutral scent
- Rich, targeted moisturizers
- Gentle chemical exfoliation
- Large bottle
- Paraben, sulfate, and gluten free
- Scent may not be feminine enough for some
5. Yu-be Moisturizing Body Lotion
Yu-be is a skincare brand very popular in Japan right now and I’m glad it’s made its way to the States. The exciting ingredient in this lotion is camphor which comes from the camphor laurel tree.
It has a cooling, soothing effect similar to menthol and relieves itching and irritation. I find camphor is great for backaches and many people find it works for soothing eczema, psoriasis, and acne. So if bacne (back acne) is an issue for you, this might be something worth trying.
Yu-be’s Body Lotion is a targeted moisturizer that relies on glycerin for it’s intense hydrating properties. Glycerin is a strong humectant (it draws in moisture) and different people have different reactions to it.
Some people find it perfect and for others it tends to be just a tiny bit greasy. It’s unscented but doesn’t have the characteristic camphor fragrance at first which is mentholy and a little like pine.
- Free of fragrances, artificial dyes, and gluten
- Cruelty free
- Soothes itchy, irritated skin
- Great for eczema and psoriasis
- Contains parabens
- Only uses glycerin
6. L’Occitane Verbena Body Lotion
L’Occitane delivers the fresh, bright fragrances of Provence, France. This lightweight lotion goes on smooth and creamy and soaks in quickly. This is the kind of thing that you could throw on and then get dressed right away without feeling greasy or sticky.
The scent is amazing. Organic verbena from Provence, France gives this body lotion a light lemony scent that works for all genders. Shea butter, glycerin, grape seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and silicone hydrate while extracts of rosemary and verbena flower nourish your skin.
My only criticism here is with the bottle. I do appreciate that it’s not a pump, making it easier to travel with, but the flip top cap reminds me a little too much of a ketchup bottle. But if that’s the worst thing about a body lotion, that’s a really good sign.
- Luxury product of France
- Light, gender-neutral scent
- Soaks in fast
- Made with organic verbena from Provence
- Paraben free
- Bottle is a little awkward to use
7. Crabtree & Evelyn Body Lotion in Summer Hill
This bright lotion is the blend of oils used including sweet almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter, glycerin, and silicones to lock all that goodness in. Extracts of peach fruit and honeysuckle nourish your skin and add to the summery fragrance.
It has a silky texture but is a fair bit thinner than some of the other lotions we’ve looked at so far. If you want a really thick cream, this one might not be for you.
The scent is warm and sunny with orchard fruits and light florals.
- Great mix of moisturizers
- Paraben, phthalate, and mineral oil free
- Intoxicating summery fragrance
- May be too thin for some
8. Amouage Women’s Body Lotion in Jubilation
This is another body lotion from a prominent perfume house. Sometimes, incorrectly labeled as a body milk, this one squarely fits into the lotion category as it’s thicker and doesn’t contain any milk proteins.
The fragrance house of Amouage is out of the country of Oman and is known for their luxury scents taking advantage of the local spice and incense trade. This body lotion makes use of sweet almond oil, shea butter, glycerin, paraffin, and silicone to moisturize your skin.
It’s definitely moisturizing but may not be the most deeply hydrating on the list, because the star of this show is Amouage’s fragrances. Jubilation XXV is a rich, spicy scent that is transportive to warmer climates.
It begins with frankincense and blackberry, deepens to honeyed cinnamon, and has a foundation of myrrh, moss, and ambergris. It’s a complex scent that was originally marketed to men, but has since been worn by everyone.
A body lotion is a great way to experience Amouage’s signature fragrances before dropping the money on the eau de parfum.
Jubilation XXV is a more formal scent than the other lotions on this list and has been said to be perfect for a more mature person or for evening wear. If you’re looking for something a little more youthful and light, Amouage also offers a Body Lotion in Interlude which has a more fruity and fun scent with top notes of grapefruit and ginger, a heart of frankincense and rose, and a base of vanilla and tonka bean.
- Designer luxury fragrance house
- Many scents to choose from
- Has a very silky slip to it
- Not as deeply hydrating as others
- Designer price tag
9. Archipelago Botanicals Coconut Lotion
I had sneak one more Archipelago body lotion in here and this one is very different than the Havana. For this one, Archipelago was very much focused on the lotion and the fragrance was secondary–though it does have a beautifully light coconut scent that is brightened by citrusly lime and lemon verbena.
It’s more of a coconut water scent than a cloyingly artificial coconut, giving it a fresher, cleaner feel to it. The lotion is creamy and soaks in quickly without leaving any residue. A little goes a long way with this one.
For moisturizers, Coconut Lotion includes coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba esters, jojoba oil, aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, glycerin, and silicones. That’s a really nice looking list of hydrating ingredients.
This lotion also contains botanical extracts of kadadu plum, arnica, grape seed, and green tea, as well as oat protein. Arnica, in particular, is something I look for in a lotion because while it might not feel like anything putting it on, arnica extracts soak into skin and help sore muscles heal themselves.
If you’re looking for a moisturizer that has less of a perfumey smell and more of a natural scent, this may be the one for you.
- Fresh, clean coconut water and citrus scent
- Great list of moisturizers
- Made in America
- Paraben and gluten free
- Nourishing botanicals
- Fragrance may be too subtle for some
10. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Refreshing Body Lotion
If you’re looking for a nice lotion under $20, this Green Tea Refreshing Body Lotion from Elizabeth Arden may fit the bill. The green tea scent is energizing and bright with fruity rhubarb and amber undertones. It’s a fun, youthful scent with an uplifting feel to it.
Glycerin, soybean sterols, and silicones moisturize, but as with Yu-be, your experience with this lotion will largely depend on how your body reacts to glycerin. T
he lotion is a little thin going on but feels very quenching and smooth. Its hydration won’t last as long as the others on this list and you’ll find yourself reaching for it sooner.
If you have very dry skin, I would strongly recommend something with a longer, more varied list of deep moisturizers. This is my preferred type of body lotion bottle though. Easy to use, easy to travel with, and loads easier to get every last moisturizing drop.
- Refreshing, light scent
- Easy to use bottle
- Contains parabens and artificial dyes
- Won’t last as long as others