How to Find the Right Body Lotion For You

We are mid-way through winter, and your skin is dry and dull. You’re in desperate need of better body lotion, but which to choose? CVS alone has 100 options. Here’s what I tell my patients about finding the right body lotion:

If the lotion smells good, absorbs well, is easy to apply, and works – and if you will use it consistently – that is the right body lotion for you. Specific ingredients don’t matter (more on this below).

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use body lotion – or any skincare product – consistently to see results. In my experience, people use body lotion way too infrequently. I have seen skin so dry that it flakes all over the exam table, and I have seen plenty of skin that is cracked, red, and itchy. 

You can buy a $100 bottle of body lotion, use it for one day, and then not for another week, and not see any improvement in your skin’s appearance. Body lotion has to be part of your daily routine. 

It’s not about the ingredients, it’s about the formulation

I don’t like to talk about specific ingredients to look for in a lotion, because the formulation is more important. Like I said above, you want one that works well for you and addresses your concerns. You could find a body lotion that has every ingredient in it, but it goes on so heavy or smells so odd that you won’t use it again. 

In a recent Instagram post, I talked about a lotion with a great ingredient – but that smelled terrible. The Necessaire Retinol Lotion contains one of my favorite skincare ingredients – retinoids. But the smell left me gagging – literally. (To their credit, Necessaire does warn you about the smell.)

When you’re looking for a good body lotion, you want one that will do two things:

1 – Help dry skin slough off and turn over 

2 – Moisturize and hydrate 

Glycolic acid, urea, and lactic acid are great for dry skin. All three ingredients help slough off dry skin to create a smoother stratum corneum – the outer layer of your skin that you can see.

Moisturizing ingredients, like glycerin, lanolin, and hyaluronic acid, keep your skin hydrated and looking good. 

But remember – these ingredients are all just part of the formulation. 

For those of you who live in a sunny, warm climate and spend a lot of time in the sun, look for a lotion that contains DNA repair enzymes. I carry two brands – Neova Body Repair Lotion and Photozyme MD Ultra Rich Cream – and highly recommend them both.

Answers to your frequently asked questions about body lotion

What about aging skin – what should I look for in a body lotion?

The advice above is perfect for aging skin, too, especially because our skin does get drier as we age.

Is there a difference between cult products, luxury products, and products that CVS carries? 

Not usually. The biggest difference is typically the cost, and this could be because costly products contain way more ingredients.  Some ingredients are expensive – like those that contain DNA repair enzymes.

Do skin tightening lotions work?

Patients will sometimes ask about using skin-tightening lotions on their crepey skin. I don’t know if they actually work. Companies that make these formulas, such as Alastin, SkinMedica, and Skinceuticals, do small trials in consumer groups, but there is no scientific evidence they decrease the enzymes that break up collagen or that they stimulate fibroblasts to make more collagen. 

If you’d like to try them, keep in mind that you’d have to use them for the long-term. Using one for two weeks isn’t going to do anything. 

How do I treat scaly bumps on my skin?

Scaly bumps could be extremely dry skin – but they could be skin cancers. Any scaly patch that doesn’t resolve with moisturizers needs to be looked at by a dermatologist.

Is oil a good moisturizer? 

Funny enough, no, they are not terribly good at moisturizing, even if they provide a nice sheen. Some people like the way oil feels on their skin. If this is you, I recommend using a moisturizer on top of the oil. 

What lotion do you use?

I use all different ones. Right now, I am using Prequel and Episilk. Every body lotion I use contains either glycolic acid, lactic acid, or urea. 

Winter is hard on skin – use lotion daily! 

Cold wind outside, dry heated air inside, and overall lower humidity levels everywhere do a number on our skin. Find the lotion(s) you like best and keep using them daily. You will see improvement!


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