When to Apply Body Lotion for Softer, Smoother Skin

December 29, 2022
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Person applying body lotion to arms in front of a mirror
Body lotion is a must-have product for soft, hydrated and smooth skin. Whether you’re dealing with ashy elbows, dehydrated legs or rough patches all over, slathering on a moisturizing cream is key. For best results, it’s important to apply your body lotion the right way and at the right time. Here, Dr. Michael Kaminer, a board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant based in Boston, explains everything you need to know about applying body lotion. And in case you need a body lotion restock, we also rounded up a few of our favorite products.

The Best Times to Apply Body Lotion

Apply Lotion After a Shower

According to Dr. Kaminer, one of the best times to apply body lotion is directly after showering. “Your skin has the most moisture when it’s wet, and most moisturizers work best when skin is already hydrated,” he says. After a shower, Dr. Kaminer says water evaporates off your skin quickly, which can leave your skin feeling dry. The best way to seal in moisture is to apply lotion immediately after a shower while skin is still slightly damp.

Apply Lotion Before Exercising

If you’re going to exercise outdoors, prep your skin by applying a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer first. If the weather is cold or the air is dry, this can help reduce the dryness that may occur post-workout.

Apply Lotion After Shaving

In addition to removing unwanted body hair, shaving also removes the top layer of skin cells, as if you had exfoliated. To help protect newly exposed skin from dryness, as well as to soothe any razor irritation, apply a body lotion or moisturizer after shaving.

Apply Lotion Before Bed

Moisture is pulled out of the skin as we sleep, so applying a body lotion right before bed is key. Plus, it always feels nice to have soft and smooth skin as you slip into the sheets.

Apply Lotion After Washing and Sanitizing Your Hands

To help replenish moisture and prevent irritation and chapping, be sure to apply a hand cream immediately after you wash or apply hand sanitizer.

Apply Lotion After Exfoliating

After exfoliating or using a body scrub in the shower, moisturizing is a must. This will help soothe the top layer of skin and help strengthen the moisture barrier.

The Best Body Lotions, According to Our Editors

Keep scrolling for our favorite body lotion formulas, including a pick for sensitive skin, an option that smells like dessert and more. 

The Best Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Lotion Daily Repair Moisturizing Lotion

This lipid-replenishing lotion is formulated with soothing thermal water, moisturizing shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide. It works to provide all-day hydration to normal, dry and sensitive skin types.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Lotion Daily Repair Moisturizing Lotion

The Best Body Lotion for All Skin Types

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps

Revive extremely dry skin with this rich cream infused with nourishing shea and cocoa butters. The emollient consistency leaves skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated without a greasy residue. You can score it in multiple different sizes, including this 33.8 fl oz refill bag.

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps

The Best Body Lotion for Rough Skin

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin

If you have rough, flaky or psoriasis-prone skin, this moisturizer is a great fit for your routine. It’s formulated with salicylic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and vitamin D to exfoliate and moisturize, while also working to repair the skin’s moisture barrier.

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin

The Best-Smelling Body Lotion

Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie Shea Soufleé

Coat your skin in this incredibly luxurious, almond oil-infused body moisturizer that smells like a sweet almond cookie with notes of vanilla and marzipan. It has a whipped texture that absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.

Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie Shea Soufleé

The Best Multi-Use Body Lotion

Lano Everywhere Cream Tube

Made with milk, vitamin E and lanolin, this thick, balmy cream can be applied on multiple areas of the body — think the hands, elbows, arms, legs, on the face, hands, feet and more — to replenish skin with essential moisture. The formula consists of 98.4% natural ingredients.

Lano Everywhere Cream Tube
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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