Here's what we learned while testing over a dozen different body moisturizers: having hydrated skin can come with some surprising secret side effects. Maybe it's because you know you took an extra step getting ready and your body is better off for it. Maybe it's because your skin just feels better or because your arms look a little more toned when they're moisturized. In any case, healthy skin is one of the central tenets of looking and feeling your best. And your skin can't be healthy if it's deprived of necessary moisture—especially going into the cooler months, when skin gets dry and itchy. A good body lotion can balance the skin's pH levels and prevent scratchiness all while locking moisture into parched skin and softening rough patches.
But you've got to know what you're looking for. We reached out to grooming expert and co-founder of The Motley, Madison Ruggieri, for some help. "You want to avoid petrolatum and mineral oil in lotions because they are sitting on top of the skin and don't absorb well or allow moisture from the air to be absorbed," she warns. "Natural moisturizers like shea butter, coconut or jojoba oil are way better for you." She also noted that there are different types of alcohols that are used in skincare, so you need to read the labels of your lotions carefully. "If you see ethanol, ethyl alcohol or methanol—these types can be drying and even irritating to the skin," she says. "On the flip side, fatty alcohols like glycol, cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol actually help moisturize." We took her advice and tested a wide range of options for you. Here are the best ones worth your time and money.
Our Editor's Pick
What's not to like about this phenomenal body lotion? First off, the big pump bottle means easy one-handed application and a little goes a long way—meaning this big bottle will easily last you six months or more. Monoi de Tahiti (a plant extract from Tahitian flowers) and coconut oil soften and hydrate skin, leaving it soft and smooth without feeling oily. Probiotics from natural yogurt exfoliate dead skin (meaning it will smooth those bumps on the backs of your arms) while stimulating your skin's collagen production for firmer, younger feeling skin. What's more, it has a faint fragrant scent of its namesake sake that is a welcome shot to the senses in the morning.
Sake Bomb Body Moisturizer, $36 by Billy Jealousy
For Those Who Hate Lotion
Kiehl's recently reintroduced their cult-favorite Creme de Corps lotion as a dry body oil and our lotion-adverse testers loved this easy-to-apply spray. Spritz a fine mist onto your skin, give it a quick rub and boom ... it's fully absorbed, dry to the touch. No waiting to get dressed and no sticky residue. Squalane, the key ingredient, is a botanical lipid that is similar in molecular structure to your body's skin lipids so it restores skin's natural moisture balance. Meaning you don't feel greasy, but your skin feels and looks really good.
Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil, $34 by Kiehl's
For Improved Texture
"Damn, this shit is a spa in a tube," said one of our more eloquent testers. Indeed, this luxurious cream from minimalist botanical brand, Grown Alchemist, is packed with bioactive and certified organic ingredients to nourish the most neglected skin. Shea Butter and jojoba oil mix with wheatgerm extract (rich in vitamins A, E, D and essential fatty acids). The combo visibly firms and smoothes your skin while potent vitamin C from cold-pressed mandarin orange oil noticeably improves elasticity. Plus, it smells really good.
Body Cream, $23 by Grown Alchemist
The Best Bang for Your Buck
While the higher end brands definitely produced the best results during our tests, this modest brand held its own with those pricier picks and definitely beat out any of the other drugstore options. The all-natural formula boasts no parabens, sulfates, dyes or other scary ingredients. What it does have is plenty of raw, sustainably sourced ingredients—moisturizing coconut oil, cocoa butter and soothing sweet almond oil. The long-lasting lotion is lightweight and rubs in quickly without any stickiness, but it does have a subtle, naturally tropical scent. You either like that or you don't.
Coconut Oil Formula Body Lotion, $5.35 by Palmer's
For Dry Skin (and Irritation)
This thick cream is a heavy-duty hydrator, packed with nutrients and calming ingredients like shea butter, chamomile and aloe (so it's great for soothing chapped, irritated skin). Free of fragrances, parabens or any harsh ingredients, it's ideal for sensitive skin. But we found it's better as a spot moisturizer—if you don't want to slather yourself in moisturizer, just use this on your elbows, knees, hands and feet to keep them soft and smooth.
Buckler's Chapped Skin Remedy, $22 by Buckler's