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You already know the importance of washing your hands — keeping germs and pathogens at bay — and if you’re doing it on the regular, you also know the excessive dryness, itchiness, and flakiness it can cause. That’s when lotion swoops in to save the day.
Lotion combats dryness by hydrating and repairing skin damage. It works to maintain the protective skin barrier using nourishing, hard-to-pronounce ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides (lipids that restore the protective skin barrier), hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and glycerin.
These products are all dermatologist recommended. The derms we spoke with say that when selecting the best lotion for your family, the ingredients are the most important factor to consider (as every age group has different skin needs).
“In infancy and childhood, the skin can be relatively ‘immature’ and lack some of the essentials that keep it working effectively to protect us from the environment, so a thicker moisturizer may be best,” explains Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
“During teenage years and early adulthood, the skin’s oil production can be significant, making the use of a moisturizer that is noncomedogenic essential,” says Ilyas. Then, as we age, our skin starts to thin out, so it can benefit from a serum-based moisturizer that’s more lightweight.
It is possible to find a one-size-fits-all lotion that can be used by your entire family, no matter the varying age groups. Here are some of the very best, according to dermatologists.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
The key to shopping for lotion when your skin is dry and sensitive, is to pick something lightweight, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic and nongreasy, according to Rina Allawh, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology.
“In my eczema and psoriasis patients, I find that this works excellent to further supplement prescription topical steroid use,” she says. “The ingredients are safe and above all else provide optimum hydration with minimal irritation, making it also a favorite among my patients with acne-prone skin.”
The search for a lotion that’s nongreasy, yet hydrating enough to tackle the driest and roughest skin is not an easy one, especially for those with the common condition known as hand dermatitis, or eczema of the hands. This one does an impressive job hydrating while protecting the skin barrier.
“This product contains a high concentration of glycerin, an important player in restoring moisture,” Allawh says. “It’s fragrance-free, lightweight, nongreasy and translucent, so it is ideal for frequent hand washers.”
We could all use a little help in the de-stressing department, especially in our current societal climate. That’s why this lotion is a best seller — it contains soothing and calming ingredients like lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang essential oils that help you relax and unwind.
It also contains colloidal oatmeal, which protects the skin and acts as a prebiotic to normalize the skin’s microbiome, explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. “It repairs the outer skin layer with ceramides, which fills in the cracks between skin cells in the outer skin layer.”
Choosing a face lotion that can be used by your whole family is a bit trickier than choosing a body lotion — that’s because the skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive.
“Body lotions are often comedogenic, meaning they clog up pores and leave a greasy residue on the face,” warns Allawh. This one, from Neutrogena, contains hyaluronic acid, a key player in anti-aging and skin rejuvenation. “It also helps improve the elasticity and cohesion of the skin barrier while not leaving behind unwanted greasy or oily residue,” she adds.
For a body moisturizer that truly passes the test of time (and won’t break the bank), you can turn to good old petroleum jelly.
“Petroleum jelly has been a staple for a majority of my patients for various ailments including dry skin, rashes, nosebleeds, and cosmetic purposes,” says Allawh. “The ingredients are safe and effective and gentle for patients with sensitive, dry skin.”
Vanicream is a trusted choice by dermatologists for use on the whole family, not only for what it contains but also for what it does not contain. It’s free of harmful ingredients like dyes, fragrances, parabens, and formaldehyde (yep, the stuff found in plywood).
“When it comes to a recommendation for the entire family, knowing each person may have varying sensitivities to products, this is a simple and easy recommendation to make,” says Ilyas.
One way to ensure that your kiddos are always wearing sunscreen is to buy a body lotion that contains SPF to block out the sun’s harmful rays — even in the winter.
“This lotion from trusted drugstore brand Lubriderm not only contains SPF 15, but also humectants including glycerin and panthenol,” explains Ilyas. This gives it the tools it needs to adequately hydrate the skin without making it too greasy or messy to work with.
One of the best things you can do for your dry skin is to exfoliate — or slough off dead skin cells to reveal younger, healthier cells underneath. A gentle way to do this is through the use of lactic acid. This everyday lotion contains 12 percent lactic acid.
“It’s safe for pregnant women and helps achieve hydration of the skin while also smoothing the dry, flaky, bumpiness that can accompany dry skin,” says Ilyas.
Every family is different, and the way you care for your crew isn’t one-size-fits-all. But it’s possible to find a lotion that will keep everyone’s skin happy and healthy, even if you’re managing conditions like eczema or acne.