If you have ever wondered how models keep their skin looking dewy and young no matter their age, you can probably attribute it to a really good moisturizing routine. Body moisturizer is what keeps your skin soft and smooth. It also keeps your skin from cracking, flaking, and becoming rough.

Not all body moisturizers are created equal, so you may be wondering how to choose the right one. First, you need to understand how moisturizers and your skin naturally work. Then you will easily be able to make an educated decision on what is right for you. 

How Moisturizers Work

First things first, you should know a little anatomy about the skin to actually understand how moisturizers work. There are three layers of your skin—the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis.  The hypodermis is the innermost layer and contains mostly fat. The middle layer, the dermis, contains small blood vessels, hair follicles, and sebaceous glands. On the outside, the part you see is the epidermis.

The dermis is the layer that all of your skin’s moisture comes from. Blood vessels carry water to your dermal layer to keep your skin hydrated. That water then passes through to the epidermis and eventually evaporates. 

Moisturizers work on the surface to keep your epidermis from losing too much hydration. Body moisturizers do this in two different ways. They either lock in moisture, keeping it from evaporating quickly and/or add moisture back into the epidermis. 

What Causes Dry Skin?

Many factors can cause dry skin. Some of the main factors are not drinking enough water, using harsh soaps and cleansers, and environmental factors. Simply stopping these factors in the first place can greatly increase your skin’s moisture. 

Not Drinking Enough Water

Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important things you can do for moisture. Your skin gets moisture naturally from the blood vessels in your dermal layer delivering water to the surface. When you don’t have enough water in your system, there’s nothing for your body to send to your skin for moisture. 

Harsh Soaps

Soap is meant to get all surface dirt and oil off of you. Some soaps do this a little too well and can remove the natural oils from your skin that help contains moisture. Ingredients to stay away from when choosing soap are fragrances, sulfates, and parabens.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that can affect your skin’s moisture are sun exposure, humidity, and heat. Sunburns will deplete any of your skin’s natural moisture because it is essentially damaging your skin. Heat is another thing that can dry out your skin due to evaporation. If the air is really dry with no humidity, your skin will also become very dry.

3 Types of Body Moisturizers

All body moisturizers are classified into 3 different types. Humectants, occlusives, and emollients. Body moisturizers can contain more than one of these types of ingredients, but always are at least one.


These types of moisturizers are water-based and great for drawing hydration towards the outer layer of your skin. They usually come in some sort of gel and are very lightweight compared to other types.  Humectants work by using ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, lactic acid, and panthenol. These ingredients attract hydration. Rather it is from the outside environment or from the dermal layer of skin. 

Instead of sitting on top of the skin like most other moisturizers, these soak into your skin. This makes them great for oily or acne-prone skin. They also work well in very humid environments where there is plenty of water in the air to be soaked in. 


Emollients are a heavier form of moisturizer that is meant to even out the surface of your skin, repairing any cracks and flakes. These types of moisturizers are your typical lotions and creams. 

Ceramides, rosehip oil, silicone, and shea butter are some ingredients that you can find in emollients. These ingredients smooth out the surface of your skin by filling in gaps between your cells with fatty lipids and oils. This process hydrates your skin while also locking in moisture.

These types of moisturizers are good for almost all skin types. They’re hydrating but not so heavy that they block your pores. They are also known to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them great for those worried about aging. 


The heaviest, most hydrating type of moisturizer is occlusives. These are usually oil-based and heavier than other types of moisturizers. Think butter, balms, and thick creams. 

Ingredients that you can find in occlusives are plant-based oils, beeswax, shea butter, and lanolin. These ingredients don’t exactly create hydration. They create a barrier on the outside of your skin, keeping the hydration your skin does produce locked in. 

Occlusives are great body moisturizers for those with extremely dry skin that do not live in a humid environment. Elbows, hands, feet, and any other place that cracks and flakes easily will love a moisturizer made with occlusives. Do not use this type if you are prone to acne anywhere in your body. 

How to Choose the Right Moisturizer for You

There are many different skin types and brands of body moisturizers out there. Figuring out your skin type and what to look for in a moisturizer can decrease the number of options to choose from enough to actually make a decision. 

Determine Your Skin Type

The main three skin types are oily, dry, and combination. This is more of a sliding scale, and nobody fits perfectly into one of these three categories. Therefore, finding out which one you fit into can be difficult. 

Oily Skin

People who have oily skin tend to have breakouts much more often than others. You will also see that your skin has an oily sheen on it by the end of the day. This is due to your sebaceous glands producing an excess of oil. The best type of moisturizer for this skin type is humectants. 

Dull Skin

Dry skin is easily identified by flaky, dull skin. This skin type can feel very tight and can crack easily. You can get dry skin from a number of factors as listed above, but it ultimately comes down to your sebaceous glands not creating enough oil. People with dry skin should use an occlusive moisturizer. 

Combination Skin

Combination skin is somewhere in the middle of the other two. Usually, this skin type becomes oily in the T zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and is dry in other areas. Most people have some sort of combination skin. Emollients work well for combination skin types, but they can also use occlusives for certain parts of the body.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is when your skin can not tolerate every ingredient that you may find in your moisturizer. You know you have sensitive skin when certain products cause irritation, rashes, redness, and/or itchiness. Emollients and humectants work well for sensitive skin, depending on if it is also oily or dry.

Aging Skin

Aging skin eventually happens to everyone. There’s only so much you can do to reverse the clock. Aging skin can include age spots, fine lines, and sagging skin. The best types of body moisturizers for aging skin are occlusives with some sort of sunscreen in them. You may also find moisturizers for aging skin with humectant ingredients as well.


Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, isn’t exactly a skin type but definitely has its own particular needs. If you have eczema, you most likely experience dry, red patches of skin that are itchy. It comes and goes for most people and has no known cure. Moisturizing is extremely important for those with eczema. The best type of body moisturizer for eczema is occlusives and emollients.

What Ingredients to Avoid

Certain ingredients are put in body moisturizers to make them seem more appealing, such as perfume and dyes. However, these ingredients can actually have an undesired effect that leaves you needing more.

Ingredients you should avoid when choosing a moisturizer are:

  • Fragrances
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Synthetic Dyes
  • Parabens
  • Retinol
  • Alcohol
  • Rice Flour
  • Lemon Ingredients
  • Mineral Oil

Get the Most of Your Moisturizer

Even if you have the absolute best moisturizer you could have possibly found for your skin type, you still need to use it correctly to get the full effect. There are a few different things that you can do to make sure you’re getting the best results. 

Apply Twice Daily

For starters, you should be applying moisturizer twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. You could use the same moisturizer both times, but most dermatologists recommend using a lighter moisturizer in the morning and a heavy moisturizer at night.

Apply on Damp Skin

Applying your moisturizer as soon as you get out of the shower also has significant benefits. After you get out of the shower, towel dry and apply your moisturizer while the skin is still damp. This allows the moisturizer to lock in any hydration it may have gotten during your shower. 


Exfoliating periodically is another thing you can do to help your moisturizer be more beneficial.  It helps remove dead skin cells that may be sitting on the surface of your skin and keeping your healthy skin cells from receiving the benefits of your moisturizer. Using a gentle scrub while in the shower is a great way to get rid of those dead surface cells. 

Best Body Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

A body lotion that comes in a gel rather than a lotion, finally! That means that it’s as lightweight as they come and soak right into your skin, like a serum. This moisturizer is non-comedogenic (it doesn’t clog pores), dye-free, fragrance-free, and oil-free. It also has hyaluronic acid to attract hydration. 

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

If you tend to get those little bumps on your skin, this lotion is for you. Its prize ingredient is lactic acid, a form of alpha hydroxy acid. This gently exfoliates your skin by turning over dead skin cells while keeping your skin moisturized. It is also paraben-free.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Dream Body Cream

glow recipe watermelon juice

Try to say that one 10 times fast. This body cream has everything you need to attract moisture without sitting on top of your skin all day. It literally soaks into your skin in seconds. Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from hibiscus and are one of the ingredients that will smooth your skin. Along with that, it has the famous hyaluronic acid to magnetize hydration.

Best Body Moisturizers for Combination Skin

CeraVe Daily Moisturizer

CeraVe has two of the most important ingredients when it comes to smoothing and hydrating your skin. Hyaluronic acid and 3 different ceramides. We already know what hyaluronic acid does, but ceramides are a type of amino acid that fills gaps in your skin cells to keep your skin smooth. It’s also oil-free and non-comedogenic. 

Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream

This repair cream has everything you could possibly need in a moisturizer. It has ceramides to repair flaky skin, shea butter to lock in moisture, and glycerin to bring moisture to your skin. It’s not too heavy where you’ll feel it on your skin all day, but it keeps your skin soft and buttery. There are also no fragrances, dyes, or parabens. 

Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion

drunk elephant sili body lotion

If you’re looking for one of the most cruelty-free, natural lotions out there, Drunk Elephant is for you. It’s vegan, silicone-free, alcohol-free, dye-free, fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and just about any other “free”, you can think of. What it does have are 5 different ceramides to build and smooth the outer layer of your skin and antioxidants to repair any damage.

It has so many restorative benefits that are great for aging skin, including 5 different ceramides to fill in fine lines and antioxidants to repair damaged skin. If that’s not enough, Drunk Elephant holds a high standard for its ingredients. They are cruelty-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, mineral oil-free, and more.

Best Body Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Necessaire The body Lotion

Necessaire The body Lotion

They call this lotion your multi-vitamin for your skin. It’s packed with vitamins A, C, E, B, and Omegas 6 and 9. This lotion is the nutrient boost that your skin needs. It is also fragrance-free and perfectly balanced with your skin’s natural PH. So you know it won’t aggravate your skin even with all of the repairings it does.

Supergoop Body Butter with SPF 40

This ultra-nourishing body butter comes with a strong SPF built-in. You’re creating a barrier of moisture on your skin while keeping it safe from further damage. The sunscreen is reef safe, free from oxybenzone and octinoxate. It’s also packed with antioxidants and plant-based oils that are made of fatty acids and vitamins. 

Supergoop gives you everything you need for aging skin in one moisturizer. It includes omega-7 fatty acids to nourish and even out skin tone, along with essential oils that keep your skin as moisturized as it can be. The sunscreen included in this moisturizer is SPF 40 to help keep your skin from getting any further damage and is reef safe.

Gilded Supreme Body Balm

A little more on the pricier side, but well worth it for those with extra dry skin. This body balm is packed with cupuacu butter, shea butter, and meadowfoam seed oil giving you the most moisturizing barrier to seal in hydration. It is great for those with super dry, itchy, aging, or sunburned skin. They also claim the hydration will last 72 hours.

Best Body Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream

This cream is free from all common irritants that you may find in lotions. It is free from lanolin, dyes, formaldehyde, fragrances, parabens, and even gluten. Vanicream’s moisturizing cream is a thicker moisturizer great for dry, cracked skin. Although this product is great for most sensitive people, it does contain propylene glycol, which you may be allergic to.

Bio-Oil Skincare oil

While this product is meant to help remove minor scars, it is also a great moisturizer. The formula is basically just different essentials oils, vitamins, and not a lot else. In clinical evaluations, this oil seemed to cause less irritation than water. It is also non-comedogenic, making it great for acne-prone skin as well.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream for Dry

If you do need something for dryer skin that is sensitive, Cetaphil’s moisturizing cream is great. It is packed with emollients and humectants to even out skin texture and attract moisture. This moisturizer has been clinically proven to be hypo-allergenic and great for sensitive skin. It is also fragrance-free and paraben-free.

Best Body Moisturizers for Aging Skin

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

For aging skin that isn’t extremely dry, this lotion is amazing. It contains alpha-hydroxy acid, known to be lacking in aging skin. This magnetizes moisture and keeps it locked in your skin. It is also packed with 3 different types of ceramides to fill in any cracks and fine lines that you may find. There are no parabens or fragrances, and is non-comedogenic, making it great for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Best Body Moisturizers for Eczema

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream 

The key difference in Aveeno’s eczema lotion is it contains ceramides to help rebuild the outer layers of your skin. These fatty lipids fill the cracks in your skin to help heal. Another key ingredient included is colloidal oatmeal to help calm and moisturize the skin. This lotion has the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association.

Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion

vaseline advanced repair

This fragrance-free lotion has been given the National Eczema Association’s seal of acceptance. It moisturizers from within with ingredients like glycerin while also creating a barrier to keep moisture locked in. Even though this lotion contains Vaseline’s notorious petrolatum, it’s light enough to soak in instead of sitting on top of your skin.

Cetaphil Baby Eczema Calming Lotion

cetaphil baby

This lotion is not only for babies. It also works well for people who are very prone to outbreaks of eczema. It is free from parabens, dyes, fragrances, mineral oil, and is hypoallergenic. It also has colloidal oatmeal in it, known for soothing cracked, itchy skin. The National Eczema Association has given this lotion its seal of approval on top of all of that.


Question: Can I do anything else, other than use body moisturizer, to moisturize my skin?

Answer: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is extremely important in keeping your skin moisturized. Skin moisture comes from blood vessels passing water along to your skin. The more water in your system, the more water it has to deliver.

Question: Is SPF important in my moisturizer?

Answer: SPF in your moisturizer can be very important. Not only to decrease your risk of skin cancer but also because sun damage can actually dry out your skin more. 

Question: Does exfoliating help moisturize skin?

Answer: Exfoliating takes off any dry or dead surface skin cells that may hinder it from keeping moisture. Therefore, exfoliating can actually be very helpful in keeping your skin hydrated. 

Question: Should I put lotion on dry or wet skin?

Answer: Lotion should be applied directly after showering when the skin is still damp. This helps your moisturizer lock in the maximum amount of water.

Question: Should I moisturize in the morning or night?

Answer: Both! Dermatologists recommend applying a lightweight moisturizer in the morning to give your skin a healthy glow and a heavy moisturizer at night to really lock in moisture.