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10 best body moisturisers that hydrate, soothe and soften dry skin

Whether you prefer thick or lightweight formulas, these will quench dull and dehydrated skin

Anjana Gosai
Friday 14 May 2021 15:25
<p>Apply our top picks after a bath or shower – while the skin is still damp – to seal in moisture </p>

Apply our top picks after a bath or shower – while the skin is still damp – to seal in moisture

When it comes to moisturising, even those with the most high-maintenance beauty regimes are often guilty of neglecting the skin below the neck area.

More than an indulgence, experts believe that body moisturisers should be a staple in our daily routine.

“The skin on the body requires the same attention to that of the face, yet it seems to be more of an afterthought for people,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed.

“Skin here is subject to friction from clothing and is faced with stressors such as temperature change, exposure to UV rays and moisture-sapping hot water from baths and showers, so building a healthy skin barrier through moisturising can help to protect and heal it,” she adds.

The best time to use a body moisturiser is immediately after a bath or shower – while the skin is still damp. “This helps the product to penetrate and will seal in moisture,” advises Dr Ahmed.

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If your skin has been under wraps for most of the year, now is the time to give it the attention it deserves. We’ve trialled and shortlisted a variety of body moisturisers – from balms and creams to lotions.

We assessed their ease of application, absorption and hydration levels in addition to their effect on the skin.

Here is our round-up of the best body moisturisers to slather on to soothe and soften the skin.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best body moisturisers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall–  Neutrogena norwegian formula deep moisture express body mist: £4.65,
  • Best for firmer skin – Augustinus Bader the body cream: £130,
  • Best budget buy – Garnier intensive 7 days coconut milk body lotion: £4.99,
  • Best for dull, neglected skin – REN AHA smart renewal body serum: £35,
  • Best for all skin types – CeraVe moisturising lotion: £9.50,
  • Best for pampering – La Mer the renewal body oil balm: £145,
  • Best for very dry skin – Clarins moisture-rich body lotion: £33,
  • Best for relaxation – Neom perfect night's sleep magnesium body butter: £36,
  • Best for problem skin – La Roche-Posay lipikar AP+M: £20,
  • Best for sun exposed skin – Sun Bum after sun cool down lotion: £16.79,

Neutrogena Norwegian formula deep moisture express body mist, 200ml

Best: Overall

If applying body moisturiser seems like a chore or you find thick creams overbearing, give this super convenient mist a whirl. The liquid moisturiser is dispersed through a cleverly-designed 360-degree spray nozzle, that allows speedy and easy application – even in hard to reach areas. The ultra-light glycerin-infused formula sinks in impressively fast, so you don’t have to wait around for it to dry. It instantly relieves dryness and keeps skin hydrated for over 24 hours. A great option for on-the-go application or travel – and it comes at a reasonable price too.

Augustinus Bader the body cream

Best for: Firmer skin

The hefty price tag might make your eyes water, but this high-tech cream is one of the most luxurious on the market, and is developed by Augustinus Bader – a German professor who is recognised as a leader in the field of stem cell biology.

The formula includes a patented trigger factor complex – a concoction of peptides, amino acids and vitamins A and E to aid the skin’s renewal process, and was originally developed to heal burn wounds. It also contains shea butter to moisturise and candeia oil to firm the skin.

Despite its thick, buttery texture it melts into the skin with ease and delivers intense hydration. After a week of use, parched skin was as smooth as a baby’s, and it also felt tighter and more supple. We like that it is scentless too, which is a rare trait when it comes to luxury body moisturisers.

Garnier intensive 7 days coconut milk body lotion, 400ml

Best: Budget buy

This affordable lotion is enriched with probiotic actives, coconut milk and shea butter to provide long-lasting hydration, while reinforcing the skin’s protective barrier. It has a pleasant, light texture that blends in quickly, without leaving any sticky or greasy residue. We were impressed with how it left skin feeling soft and smooth immediately after application.

This is a great daily body moisturiser for normal to moderately dry skin. It comes in a generous sized bottle, which should last you several weeks. Those who dislike fragrance, may find the coconut scent a tad overpowering.

REN AHA smart renewal body serum, 200ml

Best for: Dull, neglected skin

If your skin is parched and dull after spending months hibernating under woolly jumpers and sweatpants, this multi-tasking body serum will not only eliminate a build-up of dead skin cells, it will also provide a heavy hit of hydration. The addition of lactic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that works to dissolve dead skin, means that you don’t need to use a body scrub for this purpose.

It is also pumped with moisturising xylitol (derived from vegetable bark) and probiotic extract to help strengthen the skin. It feels just like a silky facial serum and its fresh, citrusy scent is impossible to dislike. Hydration levels were boosted and dull skin all over the body was more radiant. It worked miracles on banishing those upper arm bumps too.

CeraVe moisturising lotion, 236ml

Best for: All skin types

Widely recommended by dermatologists, this light lotion has a no-frills formula loaded with powerhouse ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid, to repair and lock in moisture. Housed in a pump dispenser, the thinly-textured lotion spreads and absorbs beautifully and does a brilliant job at smoothing the skin – even seriously dry patches on the elbows and knees. The non-comedogenic formula doesn’t feel heavy on the skin and it is also fragrance free, making it well suited to those with sensitive skin.

La Mer the renewal body oil balm, 200ml

Best for: Pampering

This indulgent balm is powered by the brand’s patented miracle broth, a cell-renewing blend of ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, sea kelp, eucalyptus and sunflower. The product has a salve-like texture that transforms into an oil when massaged into the skin, which really helps it to seep in. Yes, it’s pricey but it feels truly decadent, deeply nourishing and very little product is needed to tackle stubborn rough areas on the elbows, knees and heels. Slather it on in the evening, as its subtle floral notes offer a truly sensorial experience before bedtime. We guarantee that you will wake up with smoother skin and a healthy-looking sheen.

Clarins moisture-rich body lotion, 200ml

Best for: Very dry skin

Packed into a fully recyclable bottle, this iconic body lotion has been relaunched this year with higher concentrations of nourishing shea butter. It’s also brimming with plant-based ingredients such as exfoliating tamarind pulp extract and nourishing raspberry water. Designed for dry to very dry skin types, the thick lotion sinks in effortlessly and boosts hydration levels all over the body. Skin is left with a velvety-finish and the lotion’s fresh, botanical scent is a real treat every time it is applied.

Neom perfect night’s sleep magnesium body butter, 200ml

Best for: Relaxation

If you have difficulty falling asleep, this comforting formula might help. Infused with 19 essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, chamomile and ylang ylang, it releases a relaxing and lingering aroma that induces a sense of calm. The bonus ingredient is magnesium oil – a mineral used to relieve muscle aches and aid a good night’s sleep.

It’s also formulated with tried and tested nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, aloe vera, grapeseed and coconut oils, which cocoon the skin in moisture. The indulgent formula takes a while to absorb, but we didn’t mind massaging it in, as it added to the pampering experience.

La Roche-Posay lipikar AP+M, 400ml

Best for: Problem skin

Favoured by dermatologists, this balm-like cream is suitable for all skin types, even for those who suffer from conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It’s filled with proven hydrators like niacinamide, glycerin and shea butter. It also contains prebiotics to rebalance the skin’s microbiome, in order to reduce further dry skin flare ups.

The cream has a thick consistency that took a few minutes to massage in, but once absorbed it did not feel greasy. Its efficacy cannot be faulted – it eradicates dry patches, calms itching and leaves skin feeling utterly soft. A solid choice if you are looking for a non-irritating and fragrance-free option.

Sun Bum after sun cool down lotion, 237ml

Best for: Sun exposed skin

Spending time in the sun can leave skin feeling parched and often irritated. Formulated to be used after sun exposure, this body lotion is spiked with a cocktail of aloe, vitamin E and cocoa butter to calm and restore the skin’s moisture balance. Upon application, it has an instant cooling effect, which is a welcome relief when it comes to calming irritation or soothing sun exposed skin. It glides on smoothly, quenches dryness and provides lasting hydration. It also has a gorgeous beachy fragrance.

The verdict: Body moisturisers

While the moisturising abilities of all the products we tested could not be faulted, the Neutrogena Norwegian formula deep moisture express body mist is our top pick. Not only is it affordable, but it’s a breeze to apply, it sinks in fast and offers hours of hydration.

Ren AHA smart renewal body serum comes in at a close second. The multi-tasker buffs away rough patches as it hydrates and awakens dull looking skin. Those with a larger budget won’t be disappointed with La Mer the renewal body oil balm, which feels luxurious as it envelopes the limbs in long-lasting moisture and radiance.

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For sensitive skin, check out a review of the best moisturisers for sensitive skin that soothe and hydrate

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