4 Body Lotion Rules to Follow, According to Dermatologists

Isn’t it funny that most of us spend all of our time and money taking care of the skin on our face (and sometimes our neck and hands, too), but not the skin on our body, which is a much larger surface area? Though it’s not generally the first thing people see, it also deserves love, and it’s crazy what the simple application of body lotion can do. Here’s what dermatologists want you to know about using body lotion the right way to keep your skin in tip-top shape all year long.

Apply It on Damp Skin

“It is best to apply lotion or cream when your skin is damp, as damp skin absorbs the lotion more readily,” says New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD. “I recommend that after a bath or shower, people dab their skin dry with a towel, leaving some water, and then seal in the moisture with a body moisturizer—the same goes for your face when applying your moisturizing serum.”

“Ideally, we should moisturize our body once a day, preferably after the shower,” adds Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill. “Moisturizing after the shower helps lock in the moisture on your skin, which will keep your skin soft and hydrated. Consistency is key. You will notice results when you follow a daily routine. I love using coconut oil on my body post-shower!” 

Massage It In

Dr. Levine recommends rubbing the lotion in circular motions onto your skin, massaging it in. Massage is one step many people forget, but massage boosts circulation to the area, which helps diminish dullness and promote lymphatic drainage. Research shows that it also helps to reduce tension in the skin, allowing blood to flow to the surface easier for a healthy glow. It’s also a nice relaxing ritual at the end of a long day if you’re a nighttime shower person.

And, if you’re someone who doesn’t like the feeling of thick body lotion on your hands, try applying it with a brush. Many brands now offer skin-care brushes, and some are designed for use on the body, too, like Artis’s Fini Brush and Anisa’s Pinnacle Body Brush. At the end of each week, or whenever you feel like it needs to be washed, just wash it like you would any makeup brush.

Swap Formulas With the Seasons

“My favorite tip is to apply creams in the winter instead of lotions because they are thicker and made with less alcohol and water, so they provide more hydration,” says Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD. “It’s not as easy to spread, so it will take you that extra two minutes, but it is worth it. In the summer, you can cheat and use lotions because there is more hydration in the air and therefore skin isn’t typically as dry.”

Dr. Cassis says the key for most people is just to remember to do it. “Let’s be honest, we are busy, we forget, and some people just don’t like that textural feel, but if you take care of the skin on your body like you do the skin on your face, you will love the results and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.”

If You Have Aging Skin, Try an Exfoliating Formula

“As we age, our skin, like every other organ, is becoming more dehydrated, and dehydrated skin itches,” Dr. Cassis explains. “The little habit of putting on lotion every day will save you so much itching—it’s worth it—plus your skin will look amazing. I turn 50 at the end of the year, so believe me I am really watching all of the changes in my body! WOW is all I can say! One of my favorite ingredients in body lotion in alphahydroxy acids. I am currently using Glytone’s Exfoliating Lotion, which is made with 17.5-percent glycolic acid, and I love it. After using one bottle, I see a significant improvement in my skin.”