My Favorite Clean & Organic Everyday Lotion For Dry Skin
Do you know what’s in your body lotion? I tested + reviewed 9 clean and organic body lotion brands, all under $20. Swap out your toxic lotion with one of these all-natural, low EWG score, budget-friendly brands and clean up your skin care routine.
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Between all of the hand washing and dry air this winter, my skin has taken a beating. If I’m not on top of moisturizing, I get lizard skin pretty quickly.
My desktop, bedstand and bathroom counter all have a container of lotion at the ready. And I’ve gotten choosy over the lotions I use. There are lots of conventional moisturizers that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that I don’t want on my body.
This Right To Know report on fragrance ingredients gives you a good idea of what isn’t disclosed on ingredient lists (cosmetics, skin care and cleaning products). Unfortunately there are products sold in stores right now that contain concerning levels of harmful chemicals.
The goal for me was to find an organic or clean (free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and petrochemicals) lotion that had a low Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep score, worked within my budget (under $20) and would lock in moisture, soothe my skin and keep it supple. I tested nine brands of clean, natural and organic lotion and reviewed them below.
Conventional lotions may contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to your health. My daughter was gifted a bottle of Bath & Body Works Pink Cashmere lotion last year, and it’s still sitting in the bathroom. I looked through the ingredient list and found some concerning ingredients on the label: fragrance (see below), methylparaben, propylparaben, BHT and diazolindinyl urea (a formaldehyde releaser).
I’ve included a graphic at the end of this post to highlight the comparison between the Bath & Body Works Pink Cashmere Lotion and my favorite Acure Seriously Soothing 24hr Lotion. With the ingredient lists side by side, you’ll get a good idea of some of the harmful ingredients included in some conventional lotion formulations.
As a consumer and a parent, I prefer to use a lotion that’s free from any of the ingredients listed below that have the potential to affect my family’s health. We all have the power to make informed decisions about what we purchase. Here are some ingredients to look out for and avoid in hand and body lotion:
AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS IN LOTION
- BHA and BHT- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHT) are preservatives derived from petroleum and found in some lotion formulations. BHA is an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen (1). BHT is a respiratory irritant and is considered toxic or harmful to human organ systems (2).
- Formaldehyde- Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM hydantoin, methenamine and quarternium-15 are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives found in skin care products and cosmetics. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen as well as a skin irritant (3).
- Mineral Oil– You might find this listed as petrolatum, mineral oil, liquid paraffin, or paraffin oil on the ingredient list. Petrolatum is a byproduct of oil refining, and was originally discovered in the 1800’s building up in the machinery of an oil rig. Petroleum jelly is highly susceptible to contamination of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Once PAHs enter the body, they are stored in the kidneys, liver, and fat cells. There are more than 100 types of PAHs, and about 15 are thought to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Petroleum jelly also contains xenoestrogens, which interact with hormone receptors and may increase estrogen-related health issues in the body (4).
- Parabens- Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf life of lip balm, deodorant, lotion, and other beauty products. The most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben and butylparaben. Parabens disrupt hormone function and are linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. A 2004 study found high concentrations of parabens in breast tumor samples (5). The European Union banned the use parabens in cosmetics in 2012.
- Phthalates- Phthalates are used to increase the flexibility and transparency in plastics. They’re also found in beauty products, and they enhance product absorption, help products stick to your skin and keep fragrance smelling fresh. Researchers specualte that phthalates mimic hormones, interrupting hormone production (6). A 2018 review found that current human exposure to phthalates may have effects on the male reproductive system (7).
- Polyethylene glycol– Polyethylene glycol is used to make lotion thicker and better able to transport moisture to the skin. The manufacturing process and introduce impurities and by-products, such as ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane, which are known carcinogenic materials (8).
- Synthetic fragrance- Beauty products can list fragrance as one ingredient and don’t have to disclose the fact that these formulations may contain hundreds of ingredients. Synthetic Fragrance may contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants and neurotoxic chemicals (9). Synthetic musks like galaxolide and tonalide, are linked to hormone disruption (10). Fragrance formulations also contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors.
HOW DO MOISTURIZERS WORK?
Moisturizers replenish the skins moisture supply and trap that moisture from leaving the skin surface (11). Moisturizers provide water to the cell membranes on the top layer of skin, rehydrating and plumping cells in the outermost layer of skin. The occlusive substance in the moisturizer keeps the water from evaporating by forming a seal over the skin.
THE THREE MAIN PARTS OF A MOISTURIZER (12)
- Emollients: Emollient substances work to smooth, soften and hydrate your skin. Some examples of emollients are coconut oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, argan oil, rosehip seed oil, and avocado oil.
- Occlusives: Occlusive substances provide a physical barrier to block or seal the outer layer of skin, preventing water loss and keeping moisture locked in. Occlusives include shea butter, lanolin, beeswax, and cocoa butter.
- Humectants: Humectants attract water and bind it to your skin. They work to keep your skin hydrated. Humectants include glycerin, honey and aloe vera juice.
A FEW OTHER INGREDIENTS IN YOUR NATURAL MOISTURIZER
- Water: Water is the solvent for the other ingredients, while also providing hydration to the skin.
- Emulsifier: An emulsifier acts to combine the oils with the water. Emulsifiers include beeswax, lecithin, and acacia gum.
- Thickener and stabilizer: A thickener or stabilizer is used to create a stable emulsion. Natural thickeners include cetyl alcohol or xanthan gum.
- Preservative: If there’s water in your moisturizer or lotion, which there most likely is (a balm or salve does not contain water), the moisturizer will need a preservative. The preservative acts to destroy microorganisms and bacteria and prevents the growth of fungus, mold and yeast. Examples of natural preservatives include potassium sorbate and ethanol (alcohol is an astringent and may irritate sensitive skin).
- Antioxidant: Antioxidants work to keep the oils with a short shelf life from going rancid. Vitamin E is commonly used.
HOW I TESTED
I was specifically looking for an everyday lotion, as opposed to a balm or salve. My hands really need to be moisturized after repeated hand washing throughout the day, and I don’t want a product that’s too heavy or greasy. A balm or salve is something I might use at night, but it’s too thick and greasy for daytime use. I prefer to use unscented lotion since I’m sensitive to certain scents and fragrances—I don’t want to smell like I just walked out of a Bath & Body Works store.
I tested nine brands of clean and organic hand and body lotions, evaluating for:
- Hydration factor after washing hands (did the lotion relieve that dry, itchy feeling I get after hand-washing?)
- Greasiness factor (after rubbing the lotion in, did it leave a greasy film?)
- Softness (How soft my hands felt after rubbing the lotion in)
- Was there an unpleasant scent (even unscented lotion can have a scent)
- Cost (what are the most affordable options- this is subject to change depending on where the lotion is purchased and other factors)
- EWG score
I wash my hands A LOT in one day, and I always apply about a ½ dime size dollop of lotion after hand washing. After each hand washing, I applied a different brand of lotion, evaluated and took notes. I repeated this process as many times as I could throughout the week.
BRANDS I TESTED
Acure Seriously Soothing 24hr Moisture Lotion
- Cost: $1.48 per ounce
- EWG Score: 2
- My Take: This is one of my top lotion picks. It had a medium consistency and made my hands feel super smooth after rubbing it in. I felt like I was rubbing in a cloud. The lotion had no scent and did not make my hands feel greasy at all. I would definitely buy this lotion again. There is also a version made for eczema, Acure Everyday Eczema Lotion, that I would consider buying for my daughter, who has seriously dry hands all winter.
- From the Acure website: Unscented with cocoa butter & colloidal oatmeal to protect & soothe. Seriously soothing hydration your skin will revel in. Packed with cocoa butter, colloidal oatmeal and deeply moisturizing aloe. clinically shown to provide moisture for 24hrs when used as directed. 100% Vegan, Paraben free, Sulfate free, Mineral oil free, Petrolatum free, Formaldehyde free, Cruelty free.
Attitude Super Leaves Body Cream
- Cost: $1.85 per ounce
- EWG Score: EWG Verified™
- My Take: I absolutely love this lotion – it’s very hydrating and rubs in easily. It’s one of my top picks. Attitude offers orange and lemon scents, a fragrance-free, and a baby lotion option. I will definitely be buying this lotion again.
- From the Attitude website: Did you know olives are rich in healthy fats and antioxidants? As a matter of fact, olive leaves are also loaded with these healthy nutrients. With an aroma that reminds us of pear and ginger, ATTITUDE’s Super leaves™ Nourishing Body Cream is enriched with the goodness of olive leaf extract known to help hydrate and soothe the skin. EWG Verified™, hypoallergenic and dermatologically-tested, our body cream includes moringa seed extract, known for its antipollution properties. Put the power of nature to work to give you a healthy and glowing skin!
Derma E Therapeutic Shea Hand Cream
- Cost: $1.30 per ounce
- EWG score: 2
- My Take: This was one of the thicker lotions, and I love this type of lotion in the winter. It had a faint alcohol scent (similar to the smell of ink) when applying that dissipated quickly. My hands felt soft and smooth after applying without any residual greasiness. I would definitely buy this lotion again.
- From the Derma E website: DERMA E’s Therapeutic Shea Hand Repair Cream will leave your hands feeling smooth. Lightweight, fast-absorbing and non-greasy, this beneficial cream leaves even the most severely chapped, cracked hands soft, smooth and restored. This fragrance-free hand repair cream helps to improve moisture and texture of hands with the use of Vitamin E. Great for every member of the family. This product is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, phthalate-free, petrolatum-free, lanolin-free.
Everyone 3-in-1 unscented lotion
- Cost: $0.92 per ounce
- EWG score: 1
- My Take: This lotion was on the thinner side of the lotions I tested, but I still really liked it. It didn’t have much of a scent and my skin was not greasy after applying. This lotion moisturized well and is also one of the cheaper ones that I tested. I would definitely buy this lotion again.
- From the Everyone for everybody website: This mild, unscented EWG Verified™ lotion is gentle enough for faces and moisturizing enough for everywhere else. An ideal choice for everyone with scent sensitivities or who prefer to blend in their own pure essential oils. Gluten free, cruelty free, synthetic fragrance free, GMO free, Certified B Corporation.
Desert Essence Organic Fragrance Free Hand & Body Lotion
- Cost: $1.22 per ounce
- EWG score: 2
- My Take: This is a really nice lotion, and had a thicker consistency. It had a faint alcohol smell when applying, but the smell dissipated very quickly. This lotion is super hydrating and had no greasiness after rubbing in. I would definitely recommend this lotion and would buy it again. My daughter, who has really dry hands all winter, has claimed this lotion and put it on her bathroom counter.
- From the Desert Essence website: Protects and repairs skin damage from everyday environmental damage. Leaves skin feeling moisturized and revitalized. Fragrance Free. Organic Green Tea helps protect and repair skin with high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols. Vitamin E and Organic Jojoba oil penetrate into the skin without leaving an oily residue, leaving skin feeling smooth and silky. Customize your own aromatherapy lotion by adding in your favorite Desert Essence essential oil blend. Certified to NSF Organic Standard.
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Hydratherapy Lotion- Fragrance Free
- Cost: $1.51 per ounce
- EWG score: 3 (the higher score is due to an emulsifying wax)
- My Take: I loved this lotion. It is nice and thick, but still rubs in easily and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. It had little to no smell when applying, and left my hands feeling soft and hydrated. You might have noticed that this lotion had the highest EWG score of all the lotions that I tested. When I did some research, I found that the source of the emulsifying wax is not disclosed on the ingredient list, hence the higher score. Overall, I’m impressed with the company and their mission to deliver high quality ingredients in all of their products. They work closely with the Environmental Working Group and all of their products are free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sulfates, formaldehyde, almonds/peanuts, soy, dairy, and gluten. I would highly recommend this lotion and would buy it again.
- From the Babo Botanicals website: An eczema lotion created for adults with very sensitive, dry or eczema prone skin. Non-greasy and lightweight texture immediately absorbs into the skin. Contains 2% Colloidal Oatmeal to help relieve, soothe, moisturize and heal. This gentle eczema lotion is perfect for daily use. Natural Shea Butter, Sunflower and Sea Buckthorn Oil deeply moisturize. Hypoallergenic. Fragrance-free.
All Good Coconut Body Lotion
- Cost: $2.67 per ounce
- EWG score: 1
- My Take: This lotion had a thick consistency and made my skin soft and hydrated. It rubbed in easily and wasn’t greasy at all. There is no unscented version of this lotion, so the coconut had a faint smell of what I would best describe as baby lotion smell. A very pleasant smell, but since I’m reapplying it so many times in a day, I’d love to see a version with no scent. I still really like this lotion and would buy it again.
- From the All good website: Hydrating Body Lotion. All Good Body Lotion repairs your dry skin for a youthful, non- greasy feel with rejuvenating organic botanical ingredients. We’ve taken care to produce the most soothing organic lotion possible with nature’s safest and most potent organic ingredients and medicinal plants. Don’t forget to drink water for overall hydration and feed that big beautiful organ all the best, all good stuff. Certified to NSF/ANSI 305 by Oregon Tilth. Free of all the worrisome chemicals. Full of all good botanicals and beneficial oils. GMO Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, Non-nano, Biodegradable.
Puracy Organic Hand and Body Lotion
- Cost: $0.83 per ounce
- EWG Score: 2
- My Take: This lotion had a thinner consistency than some of the other lotions tested, but still made my hands feel soft and hydrated. It was not greasy either. This lotion comes in an unscented version, but I was only able to find a scented version (grapefruit and lavender, which I think is a strange combination). I would still be willing to try the unscented version, since I liked how the lotion felt on my skin.
- From the Puracy website: Puracy Organic Hand & Body Lotion is an organic, lightweight, all-purpose moisturizer that nourishes all day long. Packed with rich hydrating ingredients and clinical-grade vitamins, your skin will feel soft and smooth. The food-grade, plant-based ingredients were carefully chosen and developed into a premium solution by Puracy, a trusted source for natural and organic, plant-based, child & pet safe, hypoallergenic, and effective household essentials. The proprietary blend of renewable ingredients is safe to use around your family and free from harsh chemicals and fumes.
The Honest Co. Face + Body Lotion- Purely Sensitive
- Cost: $0.79 per ounce
- EWG score: 1
- My take: This lotion had a thinner consistency, so it would make a better summer lotion. It did hydrate well, left my skin feeling soft and was non-greasy. The lotion did have a faint strange smell that was not very noticeable, maybe a little bitter scent. I would give this brand another try for a summer lotion.
- From the Honest Co. website: Our face and body lotion hydrates and nourishes delicate skin leaving it soft and smooth.
Nourish Organic Pure Unscented Body Lotion
- Cost: $1.60 per ounce
- EWG score: 1
- My Take: I love that this lotion is organic, but it smelled overwhelmingly of an alcohol solution that I simply didn’t like (similar to the bubble blowing solution for kids). Alcohol SD 38B was the third ingredient, so I’m guessing that’s why. The smell did not go away after applying, but my hands felt soft and smooth without being greasy. It was not the thickest of all the lotions I tested, but not the thinnest either. I won’t buy this again due to the smell (even though it is unscented).
- From the Nourish Organic website: This soothing, naturally scented lotion provides continuous, all-day hydration to replenish and soften your skin. Made with organic aloe, shea butter, essential oils, and vitamin E, it’s a gentle, yet beautifully rich lotion, ideal for even the most sensitive skin. Pure unscented. The company pledges no synthetic parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances or preservatives, silicones, propylene glycol, mineral oils, sulfates, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA or aluminum.
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