The best moisturizers for your body

All body lotions are supposed to moisturize. That’s their main purpose, after all. But some come with bigger promises, like “long-lasting relief” and “non-irritating”. Then there’s the matter of what’s inside. Flip over just about any bottle, and you’ll find a long list of ingredients, including many unpronounceable chemicals.

To help you figure out which lotions worked best, experts tested 14 brands: Aveeno, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Eucerin, Gold Bond, Jergens, Lubriderm, Nivea, Suave, and Vaseline, and store brands from CVS, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. The tests and ingredient review turned up some interesting finings.

One surprise: Store brands have done well in many of the other product tests, but this time most didn’t measure up to pricier name brands. In fact, the least effective lotion experts tried was Target’s Up & Up Extra Healing Moisturizer. The one store-brand exception was Walmart’s Equate Moisturizing Lotion, a copycat version of the top pick, Cetaphil.

To find out which moisturizers worked better over a 24-hour period, experts asked 26 female staffers to lend their legs. The volunteers had to follow strict rules, including not showering or exercising on test days. When they bathed they had to use the same nonmoisturizing bar soap – no body wash. They also had to skip shaving and using any lotion for a few days before each test.

On test days the women came into the labs for before-and-after measurements of their skin with a special instrument called a Corneometer. First bare skin was analyzed. Then five test lotions were applied to different spots, and moisture was measured again after 2, 5, and 24 hours.

There are also trained sensory panelists apply and sniff each lotion to evaluate their fragrance and “skin feel” – or how the products rubbed in and how they felt on their skin.

After the testing, experts combed through product labels. Some of them had impressive – sounding claims, like “dermatologist tested” and “non-comedogenic” (won’t clog pores). But it turns out those terms don’t mean much – they aren’t verified by any official agency. (For example, Cetaphil is claimed to be fragrance free – and has no detectable scent – but it contains farnesol, a fragrance that also acts as a preservative).

Another surprise: The lotions tested contain as many as 33 ingredients. Some, like water and aloe, are familiar, but you need a chemistry degree to understand the others. And some of them aren’t so great for you.

Best Moisturizers

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion (Price $10.50 for 16 ounces)

Eucerin Daily Skin Balance Skin-Fortifying Body Lotion (Price $9.50 for 13.5 ounces)

Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion (Fewest Chemicals! Price $10 for 18 ounces)

Nivea Express Hydration Daily Lotion (Price $8 for 13.5 ounces)

Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion Aloe (Price $9.50 for 14 ounces)

Vaseline Total Moisture Conditioning Body Lotion (Price $6.50 for 24.5 ounces)

Equate Moisturizing Lotion (Walmart Price $6.50 for 16 ounces)

Suave Advanced Therapy Body Lotion (Bargain Buy! Price $3.2 for 18 ounces)

Why like them These eight lotions were tops in the tests. They all did a good job, leaving skin slightly more moisturized after 5 hours than the others tested. All except the Eucerin had no scent or a slight floral aroma; the Eucerin had a noticeable floral pefumey smell. They went on easily, with only a bit of drag, and some left only a slight waxy film on skin. All took a while to rub in, except the Gold Bond, which went on quickly. Note that all are name brands except for Walmart’s Equate; the other store brands didn’t perform as well.

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