I Tested 16 Body Lotions — These Are the 8 Best

These creams, butters, and moisturizers will keep your skin baby-soft in the coldest months.

6 min read

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Baby, it’s cold outside. My humidifier is humming, but it's almost impossible to escape dry air in wintertime, and my skin feels it. I’ve been known to get scratchy, uncomfortable “alligator” patches on my legs and back. So I went in search of moisturizers that actually helped.

“This time of year, it is super important to find a good moisturizer,” says Victoria L. Hatfield, a certified dermatology physician assistant who practices in Washington, DC. “Cold weather and more time inside means soap and hand sanitizers are constantly drying out our skin, so we need to repair the skin barrier and keep hydrated.” Moisturizer to the rescue! 

From lush body butters to cult-favorite drugstore lotions, I tried out 16 skin quenchers, in search of the best products to soothe and hydrate my dry winter skin. My method was simple: Take a shower, and slather lotion on freshly dried skin. I wanted to see how they smelled, felt, and lasted throughout the day. What was going on with my skin a few minutes later, and several hours? Now these supple, moisture-imparting finds (the eight best) will soften my skin (and, perhaps, yours) all winter long.  

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream


This one is my official favorite! My mom has used this since her dermatologist recommended it for her parched skin years ago, and she passed on the sage advice to me. Hatfield is also a fan. It has a thick, creamy texture and feels instantly soothing as it touched my post-shower arms. It’s made with both ceramides and hyaluronic acid, making it highly effective for locking in moisture all day. Though it would be a little much, say, in summertime. It’s no-nonsense, unscented, and a great go-to for when you need to fix that dry skin stat.


Hatfield uses Vanicream for herself and her family, including her two little kids. “It’s fragrance free, hypoallergenic, and packed with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help to repair and restore the skin barrier,” she explains. “It’s safe for kids, safe to use with allergies, and safe to use from head to toe.”  

Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Butter 


I picked this up because it smelled fresh, bright, and delicious. Made with Vitamin E, shea butter, and hydrating botanical oils, it goes on light but still quenches my skin. I really liked the lingering yet subtle citrusy scent. This is my pick for skin that is not super-duper dry, but could still use a lift. 

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin

When my skin was frustratingly, mysteriously rashy several years ago, this was my dermatologist’s pick, and it’s been a bathroom staple of mine ever since. Enriched with prebiotic oat and clinically proven to soothe distressed, blemish-prone, and dry skin, this is another lighter option that still delivers on moisture. It’s fragrance-free and feels gentle.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter Body Lotion


Rosehip seed oil, almond oil, and Vitamin E are part of this winning formula. It has a somewhat heavy flowery scent that I have to be in the right mood to wear — sort of like walking into the perfume section at a department store. The light, thin texture belies its major moisturizing oomph; it leaves my skin feeling soft as can be. Even though the scent is a little heavy for my taste, I love how it feels, and how it makes my skin feel. 

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

I’m adding First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream to the CeraVe category of go-tos when the dryness gets serious. This thick lotion, made specifically for dry, distressed skin and eczema, delivers on its soothing formula. I now keep this on hand for my rough elbows and heels. Without fragrance and made with clean ingredients, this is a dry skin lifeline. 

NIVEA Shea Nourish Body Lotion


This drugstore staple is infused with shea butter and claims to leave skin feeling happy and supple for 48 hours. I liked the subtle, clean scent, though if you’re avoiding mineral oil or fragrance, this lotion has both. The consistency was pleasantly situated between runny and overly rich, but it did have a slight stickiness I didn’t love at first application. Yet the next day, as promised, my skin felt great.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Walgreens