The best exfoliating body lotion
If you've tried every scrub under the sun but still aren't seeing the results you want when exfoliating bumpy or dry skin, chances are you haven't completed the process with an exfoliating body lotion. These lotions use exfoliating acids -- like alpha or beta hydroxy -- to remove dead skin cells in combination with emollients to keep skin soothed and moisturized. These lotions can help correct a number of skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis and keratosis pilaris.
If you want to add an exfoliating body lotion to your skin care routine, read our shopping guide for all you need to know about choosing the right one. We've also included our top picks, like this one from CeraVe with salicylic acid to even out rough and bumpy skin.
Considerations when choosing exfoliating body lotions
Basic: Standard exfoliating lotions are applied like regular lotions and don't need to be rinsed off. Depending on the formula, they use a variety of exfoliating acids that deeply penetrate the skin and dissolve dead skin cell buildup. As these lotions absorb into the skin, they also moisturize.
Combination: Combination exfoliating lotions are a hybrid of a scrub and a lotion. They contain gritty particles to exfoliate while the lotion or cream component hydrates skin. Oftentimes these products need to be rinsed off.
Keratosis pilaris: While basic exfoliating lotions can help more serious skin conditions, ones formulated specifically for keratosis pilaris are the way to go if you're looking for effective results on this harmless but stubborn condition that causes tiny red bumps.
For the best results, select an exfoliating lotion that balances its exfoliating acids with emollient ingredients to soothe and hydrate just-exfoliated skin. Some lotions can irritate skin if they only use one strong acid without countering it out with gentler ones or humectants.
Glycolic acid belongs to the family of stronger acids called alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). This is the strongest AHA and it penetrates deeply.
Lactic acid is another AHA, though it's not as strong as glycolic acid due to its larger molecule size that can't penetrate skin as deeply.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that's helpful for unclogging blocked pores and dissolving dead skin. If you suffer from acne, choose a lotion with this BHA.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) isn't an acid that exfoliates but rather a humectant that can retain 1,000 times its weight in water. This ultra-hydrating ingredient gives skin a natural glow and plump appearance.
Ceramides are lipids (aka fats) that are a great emollient to combat dry and flaky skin.
Glycerin is a commonly used humectant that works with all skin types. If you're a vegetarian, be sure it's derived from plants and not animals.
Shea butter is derived from the nut of the shea tree. It's a thick, natural fat that hydrates and soothes newly exfoliated skin.
Exfoliating body lotion prices
A bottle of exfoliating body lotion can range in price from $13 to $43. Budget-friendly bottles tend to have more product, eight to 14 ounces, whereas premium lotions may only offer a few ounces of high-quality product.
Q. What's the best way to apply an exfoliating body lotion?
A. For optimal absorption, we recommend slathering on an exfoliating body lotion on damp skin right after you shower.
Q. Are there any times I shouldn't apply an exfoliating body lotion?
A. We don't recommend applying it to skin right after using any depilatory methods, such as shaving, sugaring, or waxing. For people with moderate to severe eczema or psoriasis, check with your dermatologist before using any exfoliating skincare products.
Exfoliating body lotions we recommend
Best of the best: CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
Our take: A safe and effective exfoliating lotion for a number of uneven skin conditions.
What we like: Top recommended brand from dermatologists. Hypoallergenic. Non-irritating balance of acids and ceramides. National Eczema Association seal of approval.
What we dislike: Leaves some users "sticky."
Best bang for your buck: Amlactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
Our take: Low-priced exfoliating lotion that rivals more expensive brands.
What we like: Exfoliates with lactic acid while delivering ample moisture to the skin. Paraben and fragrance free. Non-greasy.
What we dislike: Smell is medicinal to some noses.
Our take: Formulated to target KP, this powerful lotion also works on acne-prone skin.
What we like: Smooths bumpy skin and calms redness. No medicinal smell. Also effective on dry skin and hyperpigmentation. Alcohol-free formula moisturizes skin.
What we dislike: Glycolic and salicylic acid combo may be too irritating for some users.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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