A Dermatologist Ranked the 3 Worst Body-Lotion Mistakes

If there’s anything I’m very strict about when it comes to my beauty routine, it’s my body lotion. I might forget a step in my nighttime skincare routine, but I never forget to put body lotion on after I shower or in the mornings, even I don’t shower. For the most part, it’s paid off. Aside from the occasional eczema flare-up on my hands, arms, or neck, I have pretty smooth skin. 

But since I’m a curious person and like to question everything, I wanted to know if there were some things I was missing when it comes to body-lotion application. So I reached out to dermatologist Naissan O. Wesley, MD, FACMS, of Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills to get her tips and to see what role body lotions play in reducing premature aging or the signs of aging. Because you’ve always got to be on the offense when it comes to protecting your skin, right?

In general, the guideline for applying body lotion is pretty simple. “I recommend applying body lotion daily,” Wesley says. “If recently showered, the best time to apply is within three to five minutes after a bath or shower to help trap moisture in and restore the skin barrier that may have been disrupted by soap or cleansers.”

While it seems straightforward, there are some mistakes you can make with body lotion. Wesley outlined these three for me:

1. Not Applying Enough: Don’t be stingy with the stuff. Of course, you don’t need to empty the whole bottle onto your body, but be generous with how much you apply.

2. Not Applying It All Over: One example Wesley gives is putting lotion on your upper body but forgetting about your legs. Make sure you’re moisturizing every inch of your body.

3. Applying a Lotion That Isn’t Moisturizing Enough: This might depend on your skin type or needs. Overall, you’ll want to choose a product that contains the nutrients, vitamins, and ingredients that will keep your skin hydrated for a while. “I prefer to use body lotions that contain natural and fewer unnecessary ingredients,” Wesley says. “One that is creamier or has a lotion mixed with oil I find have longer moisturizing effects than a thinner, more watery lotion that just tends to evaporate off the skin surface. Ingredients such as shea butter, cold-pressed oils, borage seed oil, and/or fatty acids such as ceramides tend to have great barrier-protecting properties.”

One thing I didn’t realize about body lotions? They can play a big role in protecting your skin against the signs of aging. Here I was just honing in on the eye creams, serums, face oils, and night creams of the skincare world and not even thinking that my body-lotion habit could also be helping maintain youthful-looking and firm skin.

“The skin often tends to appear more wrinkled when it’s drier,” Wesley explains. “Thus the same moisture-enhancing and barrier-protecting ingredients above also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Additionally, topical antioxidants can be helpful to repair free radicals created from sun and environmental damage, and peptide ingredients can be useful to help support collagen.”

As for application watch-outs, Wesley says you can apply it as often as it feels good, as long as you don’t have acne-prone skin and the lotion isn’t clogging pores. Regardless of whether you have mature skin or not, Wesley says application frequency will depend on the climate of where you live because cold, dry, and windy conditions might require more moisture support. Other factors include exposure to hard water and soap and any underlying conditions like eczema or thyroid disorders.

“For mature, dry skin, applying lotion morning and evening would be appropriate, especially after bathing,” she advises. “Applying a thicker, creamier lotion as opposed to a thin, more watery topical would be recommended.”

Take a look at some anti-aging body lotions recommended by Wesley and our editors below.

This body lotion contains 12% glycolic alpha hydroxy acid, which helps with collagen production and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also works to slough off dead skin cells, while vitamins and nutrients leave the skin moisturized. Because it contains AHA, you should be careful with your sun exposure and wear sunscreen.

Though on the pricier side, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s body cream is really worth it. Formulated with antioxidants, white almond, and elderberry blossom, the lotion will tighten skin and diminish the signs of aging. It’s also quickly absorbed and ultra hydrating.

This body balm both tightens skin and reduces the appearance of sun damage. It has botanical ingredients like lemon, safflower, and coconut oils.

Skinceuticals’s concentrate is all about firming up your skin. Apply it to your abdomen, buttocks, knees, and thighs for a visibly lifted look. Ingredients include peptides, yeast extract, and rice protein.

Caudalie’s body lotion not only hydrates the skin, but it also prevents premature aging by promoting microcirculation. Ingredients include hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and organic grape water.

At just $15, Olay’s anti-aging body lotion is an effective drugstore option. It’s formulated with vitamins B3, B5, and E to provide 24 hours of moisture. It’s a seven-in-one formula, so it improves elasticity, soothes dryness, conditions, brightens, evens skin tone, smooths, and reduces the appearance of fine lines.

Epionce’s body lotion contains essential fatty acids, ceramides, meadowfoam, and flax extracts to moisturize, strengthen the skin barrier, and protect against free radicals. And any irritation or inflammation is relieved with ingredients like rose hip, safflower, and avocado complex. 

Another splurge, La Mer’s provides all-day hydration while preventing further moisture loss. Like other La Mer products, it contains ingredients from the sea, which work to plump and brighten skin.

Not only does this body lotion smell amazing, but it’s super effective, too. It’s enriched with shea butter, natural oils, and a blend of antioxidants to leave your skin feeling smooth and firm.

Nivea’s body lotion is another affordable drugstore option. It can firm and improve skin elasticity with the help of ingredients like Q10 and vitamin C. Did we mention that it can keep moisturized for up to 48 hours straight?

Perricone’s body lotion is specially formulated to help thin, crepey skin. The refreshing formula contains retinol, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, which all work to make the skin smoother and firmer. It also promotes skin renewal.

This rich cream is formulated with botanicals, retinol, antioxidants, and other good-for-the-skin ingredients that will rejuvenate your skin. It’s also paraben-, phthalate-, synthetic fragrance–, and sulfate detergent–free.

Drugstore favorite Cetaphil has its own body lotion for mature skin. This one has potent antioxidants and niacinamide that promotes healthy, hydrated, glowy skin. It’s recommended to use this at night so you can see the difference in the morning.

If you’re experiencing hyperpigmentation, the lactic acid in this works to reduce its appearance and exfoliate. Other ingredients like jojoba, barley extra, and shea butter promote hydration, firmness, and elasticity.

This body cream is the most expensive one on the list, but not only does it reverse any damage and signs of fine lines, but it also firms and minimizes cellulite thanks to guarana and caffeine. It leaves the skin tighter, toned, and smoother. It’s recommended to massage the cream into your arms, thighs, butt, neck, décolleté, and hands for at least five minutes after showering.

I use Fresh’s black tea eye cream every night, so I trust its body-cream cousin. It contains a black tea complex that improves elasticity, radiance, and texture while locking in moisture for 24 hours.

With 10% glycolic acid, this body cream exfoliates dead skin cells and improves skin texture and tone. It also contains marula, kigelia, and kalahari melon seed oils to trap moisture and renew skin.

Gold Bond’s body lotion for mature skin contains seven plumping moisturizers, three vitamins, proteins, and lipids to quench the skin and keep it hydrated for 24 hours. And even better, the lotion is quick-absorbing, not greasy, and hypoallergenic. Next up, this 89-year-old looks 25 years younger—here are 14 skincare items she uses.

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