The 4 best hypoallergenic lotions for dry skin, according to a dermatologist

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Finding a great moisturizer that won’t irritate your skin is not as straightforward as some brands may claim. “Product labels that say ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘sensitivity tested’ do not guarantee that you won't experience a skin reaction. There are no rules about how these terms can be used on a label,” Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, explains to Mic. But by scanning the ingredients list, you can see that the best hypoallergenic lotions for dry skin are free from the most common irritants — and that they do contain a proven combo of hydrating ingredients.

“Almost any ingredient could cause an allergic reaction but fragrances and preservatives are often to blame. Even products that are labeled as ‘unscented’ may still contain fragrance and can therefore still cause an allergic reaction,” says Dr. King. To help avoid irritation, Dr. King suggests choosing products that are labeled “fragrance-free” and keeping an eye out for potentially irritating preservatives like parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde.

It can also help to choose a product that has the National Eczema Association’s (NEA) Seal of Acceptance. “NEA Seal of Acceptance criteria includes a list of ingredients that should be avoided because they contain known irritants,” says Dr. King. Still, it may not be possible to avoid every potentially irritating ingredient, so Dr. King recommends doing a patch test before using any new product.

When it comes to hydration, Dr. King explains: “Moisturizers ideally contain three components: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. It's important to look for products that contain all three.” Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid help prevent cracking and chafing. Emollients like squalene, fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides “help in skin barrier function, membrane fluidity, and cell signaling, leading to overall improvement in skin texture and appearance,” Dr. King adds. Finally, occlusives such as petrolatum, beeswax, and mineral oil “form an inert layer on the skin and physically block transepidermal water loss,” helping to keep skin hydrated.

Whether you want to moisturize your face, body, or both, scroll on for the best hypoallergenic lotions for dry skin that are fragrance-free and expert-approved.

01

The fan-favorite cream for face and body

This CeraVe lotion has more than 65,000 reviews and an equally impressive 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon. The fragrance-free lotion has also earned the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance. It’s formulated with the humectants hyaluronic acid and glycerin, while three different ceramides and cholesterol act as emollients. It also contains occlusive petrolatum to create a barrier on the skin and help seal in moisture. The paraben-free, noncomedogenic lotion is fast-absorbing and great for both the face and body.

“This lotion is the best thing I’ve ever used on my skin,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I have super dry and sensitive skin and it keeps my skin the most hydrated and it wasn’t greasy at all.”

02

The expert-recommended body lotion

Dr. King loves this fragrance-free lotion, which the brand’s research has found to provide moisture for up to 48 hours. The key ingredients include humectant glycerin, an emollient ceramide serum that helps strengthen the skin’s barrier, occlusive petrolatum, and sunflower seed oil. The lotion is fast-absorbing, and you get three bottles with each order. According to Dr. King, it has a “rich moisturizing formula that supports the skin barrier with ceramides. And it contains the ideal combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives.”

03

The oil-free face cream

This oil-free, noncomedogenic facial moisturizer is fragrance- and dye-free and helps relieve dry skin using humectant glycerin, occlusive petrolatum, and cetyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol that acts as an emollient.) The formula does contain parabens and diazolidinyl urea which could potentially be irritating, but it’s also earned the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance and more than 10,000 five-star ratings. And according to many Amazon reviewers with sensitive skin, it works. “I have very sensitive skin and I can’t use anything that [...] isn’t oil-free. I’ve been using this moisturizer for a few days and my skin feels so good and soft. It doesn’t have any scent and it doesn’t make my skin greasy,” one fan wrote.

04

The in-shower body lotion

The moisturizing power of this in-shower lotion is activated by water so you can use it before toweling off. Though it’s lightweight and fast-absorbing, it’s still a heavy-hitter when it comes to dry skin. Some noteworthy ingredients include humectant glycerin, an emollient ceramide complex, and occlusive shea butter, olive oil, and jojoba seed oil. It has no added fragrance but does contain orange peel oil and eucalyptus, which some people may be sensitive to.

It’s another popular product that’s earned both the NEA Seal of Acceptance and garnered more than 7,000 five-star ratings. “This is the best wet skin moisturizer I have found. I can put it on in the shower and then towel dry and go. It really does soak into the skin quickly and lasts,” one reviewer wrote.

Expert:

Dr. Hadley King, a Board-certified dermatologist in New York City