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 to often 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.