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I don’t believe that we need to slather ourselves head-to-toe in natural body lotion after every shower, but there are few things more satisfying than rubbing hand cream into parched palms. And in the winter, my legs and arms become dry as well, and I like to have something around to moisturize.
Of course, most conventional lotions (and even many “natural” ones) are full of the usual chemicals, so you’ll have to do some digging to find a truly clean one.
My Top Pick for Best Natural Body Lotion
All Good gets my vote for the best basic natural body lotion at a good price point with no scary ingredients. It’s totally non-greasy, too.
What’s Wrong with Conventional Body Lotion?
Our Safe Baby Lotion Guide outlines what’s bad about most moisturizers (namely, toxic parabens used as preservatives). Lotions for adults tend to include additional chemicals, mostly related to the fragrance. When you are reading labels, keep your eyes open for the following:
- Fragrance or “parfum” (generally, this means the presence of hormone-disrupting phthalates)
- Benzyl alcohol (likely carcinogenic)
- PEG-100 stearate (sometimes contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which has high rates of carcinogenesis)
(Read about these ingredients and more by checking out our glossary.)
“Natural” and “Dermatologist-Recommended” Ingredients Do NOT Guarantee Safe Products
Unfortunately, many companies use these terms to mask sneaky ingredients in products; in fact, the more verbose the label, the sneakier the product tends to be.
- Read ingredients lists; don’t be persuaded by cooing advertising and buzz words on labels, which are all but meaningless.
- Companies are not legally required to disclose the inclusion of phthalates in fragrances. Even if the product is phthalate-free, the presence of an undisclosed fragrance means the ingredients probably contain a mixture of other unknown chemicals.
- “Naturally-derived” does not mean an ingredient is natural or safe. This tells us that the ingredient has undergone a chemical process.
If you want to combat dry skin without buying a pre-made lotion, check out our DIY skincare ideas or whip up a batch of homemade lotion (recipe below). I like to buy premixed lotions myself, and all of the brands recommended below should be safe and gentle enough for babies, although you should always perform a patch test to make sure there are no sensitivities.
A Lotion Alternative: Body Oil
Most body oils will contain fewer ingredients than lotions. Because oils don’t contain any water, preservative ingredients aren’t necessary, so body oils are often a cleaner choice. We love Ora’s Amazing Herbal Body Oil.
The Good Stuff: Natural Body Lotion
Acure Seriously Soothing 24hr Moisture Lotion is 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.
All Good Hydrating Lotion are super silky, not at all greasy, and still free of all the gross stuff. They use organic ingredients, which is unusual for even most of the brands we recommend.
All Good also makes an awesome coconut oil Skin Food that’s as simple as it is deeply hydrating.
Great for adults with very sensitive, dry, or eczema-prone skin. Contains 2% colloidal oatmeal, natural shea butter, and sea buckthorn oil.
Beautycounter offers several safe hand and body creams–including Citrus Mimosa Hydrating Body Lotion, Citrus Mimosa Body Butter, and two kinds of hand creams. While I don’t love that these contain phenyoxethanol and sodium benzoate, I think these are overall safe options, particularly for those of you looking for a product with nice packaging and more of a conventional feel/scent. I do use these products myself, but probably wouldn’t use them on children (anything else in this Good Stuff list is fine for kids, in my opinion).
This unscented skin cream is formulated for extra dry skin to help improve your skin and scalp problems.
These small-batch lotions are 100% natural with no preservatives, but still have a shelf life of a year (more if you refrigerate). They are not greasy or balm-like, but nice and creamy, while still being light. The Citrus Garden is my favorite scent. You can now buy this lotion in our store, where it’s $16 for a 8-ounce bottle.
Green Goo is one of the oldest herbal salve companies in the U.S., and this moisturizing salve contains organic ingredients produced at their own herb farm. The Good Stuff Store sells this balm for $14 for a 2-ounce tub. We recommend this in particular for the hands and extra dry areas–it’s a bit of a challenge to smear it head-to-toe!
This is what we now use in our home–my husband Daylon is picky about the consistency of his lotions; those that are super thick and balm-like weren’t going to fly. This one is nice and silky and I love that it comes in glass instead of plastic. We sell this lotion in our store, where it’s $34 for the 8-ounce glass jar.
Kabana is among the most transparent companies out there, and its website outlines the very strict standards for its products’ ingredients. Kabana’s Pure Shea moisturizer is sort of like a deodorant stick that you paint on your body, so it’s a departure from a more traditional lotion or cream, and a little bit greasier. I love that it’s just 100% organic unrefined shea butter–produced in Ghana by a woman-owned, fair-trade collective to boot! Two ounces cost around $6.95. Kabana also makes a more traditional cream–Kabana Créme––but this one contains lanolin, which I try to avoid when possible (although Kabana does use the highest grade available–USP superfine). You can have an essential oil of your choice added to your cream (their oils are steam distilled, cold pressed, or supercritical carbon dioxide extracted). Daylon doesn’t like this cream because it’s SUPER thick and somewhat hard to rub in (better for small areas and Daylon likes to rub lotion over his entire chest). You’ll pay $15 for a 6-ounce tub of Kabana Creme. All Kabana products are produced in their facility outside of Boulder, CO, while some ingredients come from overseas (but nothing is sourced from or purchased in China). You can find Kabana products in Whole Foods, as well as the Kabana website. We sell Kabana’s amazing sunscreen in our online store.
I love Plaine for their commitment to the environment: the bottles are made of aluminum instead of plastic, and better yet, you send them back to be cleaned, sterilized, refilled, and returned to you! The fact that their lotion is also totally clean makes Plaine lotion some of the Best Stuff.
Poofy’s lotions have a few ingredients that aren’t so great, namely the vague “natural flavors” there at end, but I still consider this line of lotions to be Good Stuff.
Not all Seventh Generation products are the Good Stuff, but this no-frills, basic lotion has a safe list of ingredients. Get an 8-ounce bottle for around $8 on Amazon.
Tandi’s Ultra Rich Body Butter, made by hand in Lancaster, PA, is formulated with local ingredients like beeswax and a variety of plant oils, and is free of all preservatives. This lotion feels slightly greasy at first, but if you give it a minute it actually sinks in perfectly and leaves no sheen. We sell a 1.5-ounce tub in our online store for $12.
Weleda Evening Primrose Revitalizing Body Lotion helps skin look and feel firm, renewed and strengthened. Promotes the appearance of natural radiance and skin vitality with long-lasting care. Certified natural by NATRUE, vegan, dermatologically tested and approved.
The Bad Stuff
Almost all the hand and body lotions you find at the drugstore are full of chemicals. Unfortunately, those sold at Sephora or in a department store aren’t any better.
Vaseline Intensive Care lotion garners a whopping 10 out of 10 on Skin Deep’s toxicity scale. Fragrance, DMDM hydantoin, retinyl palmitate, triethanolamine, parabens, and a handful of other chemicals are included in the various Vaseline formulas.
In early 2014, I met the president of Bliss Spa at a Huffington Post luncheon. He was nice and suggested I check out some of their products. Unfortunately, Bliss’s body butters contain things like diethanolamine (linked with cancer), fragrance, retinal acetate (reproductive toxin), triethanolamine, and phenoxyethanol. I still do like getting a pedicure at Bliss, but maybe I will bring my own lotion.
Philosophy lotions, despite the high price, are still full of questionable ingredients (and the lower case “p” in their name annoys me, too). The Amazing Grace Firming Body Emulsion contains nine ingredients that are scored as 3 or above by Skin Deep (including PEG-100 stearate and polysorbate 60). Fragrance is the second ingredient in this lotion, although a customer service rep told us that Philosophy products don’t contain phthalates. When we asked what chemicals were in the fragrance blend, she said: “I do not have that information, but the fragrance is used to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness.” Philosophy’s website states that only a “handful of our original products still contain paraben-based preservatives and their “promise” is “to bring its customers products that inspire them to live a better life by being better to themselves…Our products are based on a rich, scientific heritage.”
The Sneaky Stuff
Surprisingly, you’ll find Ahava products in some health food stores. Their Caressing Body Sorbet contains BHA, synthetic fragrance, artificial colors, and phenoxyethanol.
Terralina’s Natural Body Lotion contains phenoxyethanol and fragrance. Terralina’s website states that the product is “99.95% natural” and “contains light, natural fragrance.” When we asked a customer service rep to explain the ingredients in the lotion’s fragrance, she wouldn’t provide us with any information. Similarly, she couldn’t tell us which ingredients were organic and which were not.
Belli Specialty Skin Care Solutions claims to be the #1 recommended pregnancy skin care brand by OB-GYNS. Some of their products are clean, and their All Day Moisture Body Lotion is rated only a 2 by Skin Deep. However, it contains several ingredients that concern me:
- Ceteareth-20 (Skin Deep score: 4-7, depending on usage.)
- PEG-100 stearate
- Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (Skin Deep score: 4-6, depending on usage.)
- Tocopheryl acetate
I also don’t like that Belli’s product ingredients aren’t posted on their website, and they were were exceptionally difficult to get ahold of. When asked if anything they used were organic, this was their response: “We are not fully organic, however we do use organic ingredients when possible. If an organic ingredient does not meet our safety standards and teratology screening, LACTMED screening, allergy testing ect [SIC]) we then substitute with a synthetic ingredient that does pass the screening.” This answer doesn’t make sense, since the opposite of organic is not synthetic, and nowhere on Belli’s website or on their labels does it mention ANY organic ingredients.
J.R. Watkins Naturals makes household cleaning products and specialty food items in addition to their popular skincare and haircare lines. Their lotions, sold in many healthfood stores, are free of some notorious bad stuff–namely, parabens and phthalates–but still contain unspecified (likely synthetic) fragrance and something called C18-22 hydroxyalkyl hydroxypropyl guar, about which there are no safety studies.
Kiss My Face‘s line of body lotions are free of phthalates and parabens, but contain a host of synthetics, including phenoxyethanol and polysorbate 80.
The every popular Skin Trip coconut moisturizer by Mountain Ocean contains synthetic fragrance and phenoxyethanol.
See our baby lotion review for other safe lotion options for the whole family.
Make Your Own Natural Body Lotion!
Elizabeth Flynn is an organic chemist and essential oil expert based in Santa Cruz. She generously shared the following recipe for a nourishing homemade body lotion. This is a very thick cream, so using squeezable plastic containers is not advisable.
Ingredients & Supplies
- 3/4 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/2 cup organic aloe (the purest you can find; most “aloe” has aloe as the third ingredient or more)
- 3 tablespons organic jojoba oil (the best skin oil; closely resembles the skin’s sebum)
- 3 tablespoons distilled water
- 2 tablespoons organic beeswax
- 1 teaspoon of essential oils of your choice (lavender is an excellent choice; it’s calming, soothing, and has antibacterial properties)
- rubber spatula (optional)
- thermometer (optional)
1. Melt the coconut oil, beeswax, and jojoba oil together in a small pot on low heat, stirring just until they become homogeneous. Then turn off the heat so the oils don’t get too hot.
2. Heat the distilled water in another small pot on low heat, until it simmers. This will only take a minute or two. It is best to heat both the oils and water to the same temperature, but if you don’t have a thermometer, just heat them on the same burner level.
3. Pour the heated oils and water into the blender simultaneously and blend on low for two minutes.
4. Slowly add the aloe while blending on high for two minutes. You might have to use a rubber spatula to assist the blending process.
5. Add your essentials during those last two minutes of blending.
6. Voila! Your natural body lotion will still be warm and you can pour into glass jars of a suitable size. Elizabeth recommends recycling old food jars! A rubber spatula works well here to get every last bit.
63 responses to “Safe Hand & Body Lotion Guide”
I love that you talked about how harsh chemicals can dry our skin. My brother informed me that he is looking for natural soap and body lotions and asked if I could advise him on the best way to proceed. Thanks to this helpful article, I’ll be sure to advise her that consulting a reputable natural soap and body lotions shop is a much better idea.
How about Dr. Bronner’s lotions and their Magic Balm?
How about the body lotion called Honest? I did see some cetaeryl alcohol in it. Is this a good product?
How about the body lotion called Honest? I did see some cetaeryl alcohol in it. Is this a good product?
Hi! Do you have a hand lotion with sunscreen to suggest?
Thank you for this amazing article. I am hopeful that this will help me with all that my body has been dealing with lately. I will share with my tiktok audience of 110K also 🙂
I love the idea of making my own body lotion
Hi, do you have any recommendations for pregnancy belly lotion? Is Palmer’s ok? I’m assuming not but not sure what to use.
Wow, great blog.Really looking forward to read more. Great.
What are your thoughts on Tula skincare line? I usually use Acure and beauty counter but came across that brand and was curios!
I’m in the process of researching lotions / body creams so loved all of your info. Any thoughts on Andalou Naturals Body Lotions? This may sound strange but I have a vision impairment and my sense of smell picked up where my eyes left off! lol Anyway, Andalou offers two of my favorite lotion scents, clementine and vanilla. Would greatly appreciate your thought on this option for lotion. Thanks!
Do you have any thoughts on Honey Girl Organics? I just purchased samples of their face and eye creams and facial scrubs. They seem like “good stuff”, but I am just curious if you feel the same way. Thanks!
I actuality just use coconut oil or avocado oil. I figure if you can eat it, there are no toxins!
I am 68 and have lived in the desert and sun most of my life and have very dry skin. I can tell you that coconut oil is not near the top of the list for moisturizing..Avocado, almond, and olivere all way better..all easily purchased. Still looking for a wonderful lotion cream(chem free) that doesn’t have lavender(what you used to put in linen closets to keep bugs away..yuk)..or unscented..so still using the oils straight from the bottle..my sheets and bed clothes end up smelling but it is worth it.
Do you have any suggestions for lotions for pregnant bellies, to prevent stretch marks?
Thank you so much for this article. Actually, this article is so attractive for all. Body lotion are most important for body skin care. I think this article is better than another article.
Any thoughts on Weleda products?
Hey Maia – thanks for keeping us all sane. Have you looked into Andalou Naturals? I use their lotion and it seems like Good Stuff but it’s so hard to tell. I use the 1000 Roses body butter and love it but who knows these days! Thanks!
I plan to follow the recipe posted above to make the homemade lotion. I see that it is referred to as a body lotion. Will it be okay to use this on my face as well? Thanks 🙂
Any advice on keeping homemade lotion fresh? I’ve made it several times, and before long I detect mold inside the container. Keeping it in the fridge is not something I’m going to do lol.
I also have a question about Acure Hand Lotions. I see they contain Tocopherol acetate which seems to be quite a controversial ingredient (EWG rates it a 3 and I also saw this statement: may have potentially carcinogenic properties). I did read an article that says it is worth watching for information on this ingredient (a form of Vitamin E).
Do you have any information around the safety of this ingredient.
I don’t understand how you have labelled some hand creams sneaky because they have phenoxyethanol or other alcohol while saying products like Beautycounter are good even if they have equally bad ingredients?
Can you please tell me if Attitude Hand Repair Cream is a safe cream to use.
Hi.I would love your feedback on ThinkBaby sunscreen. Is it good, bad, or sneaky?? Thanks so much!
What do you think about Farmhouse Fresh Body Milk Lotion? I have the Backcountry Caramel, please let me know, thanks.
I like the Acure products, as you indicated as well, but I looked them up on EWG and they score differently depending on the product. More specifically, the lotions and body washes have ingredients that score as high as a 5. Just wondering if these ingredients should be concerning and if Acure isn’t as natural as I hoped?
Any feedback on thinkbaby lotion?
Have your heard of Andalou Naturals? Specifically the Kukui Coco Body Butter lotion. Would you consider them good stuff?
I’m wondering about this brand too! They make some night creams that I like and seem clean.
Hi, What is your take on Palmers cocoa butter and Palmers cocnut oil?
What do you think about VMV Hypoallergenics and Cleure brands for skincare?
What are your thoughts on Vaseline 100 % petroleum and the deep moisturizer jelly cream? I read reviews that Vaseline takes out the carcinogens of their petroleum while off brands may not. Their deep moisture jelly cream has a bunch of ingredients that I am not sure if it’s safe. Some natural products have scents so it hasn’t worked on my eczema baby.
Out of desperation to help my eczema baby I am interested in trying Vaseline original 100% petroleum and Vaseline Deep moisture jelly cream (new?). Do they both contain toxins?
I’ve tried other options but some natural products have scents like shea butter.
What face lotion would you recommend? I have been searching different sites and I’m still not sure which one to go with. I’ve switched to Acure body lotion and shampoo/conditioner, but still need something for the face. Thank you so much! 🙂
Do you have information regarding EO Good for Everyone lotion? I was also wondering about the Simple brand face moisturizer. Any advice and recommendation would be appreciated!
hI, I am currently using antabuse for alcholoisim, and cannot consume or absorb alcohol on my skin. What is he best product to use that doesn’t have any alcohol? Are there any?
Hi Maia, have you heard much about Arbonne products? They talk about using pure, botanical based ingredients but I’m not sure if they use some sneaky ingredients?
Hey Maia! Do you know if Nubian Heritage lotions are ok? They are the best smelling ones I have found, so I’m hoping so!
Hi! I have a question about the home made lotion recipe …can I add fresh aloe from my garden or it needs to be from the store? Aloe juice, puree, pulp or how is it called? Thank you!
Hey Maia! Do you know if Nubian Heritage lotions are ok? They are the best smelling ones I have found, so I’m hoping so!
Hi Maia – Do you have any other recommendations for facial moisturizers for adults? My husband and I struggle to find some healthy alternatives to the stuff we see on most store shelves. We check the EWG site when we can but it never fails than when we run out and are at any given store, we’re suddenly reading each and every moisturizer bottle on the shelf, often getting frustrated with not finding too many good things. Other than the 7th Generation, do you have any other things that have worked well for you or your clients? Or any homemade recipes for facial moisturizers?
I have to applaud you on your prices! I too make my natural homemade lotions, and other products so the everyday person can afford them. Thank you for doing this business for the profit of others, and not the profit of becoming rich. This alone tells me you are very enlightened, and you think of others well being as well. This truly touches my heart! xx
I see you recommend the Acure Organics. Are the Acure organic lotions with fragrance ok?
You can avoid all of the chemicals with this all natural 2 ingredient Shea butter lotion by Ozone Layer. It has nothing unnecessary in it, just Shea butter and rosemary leaf extract. You can get it at Amazon or their website. http://www.amazon.com/Ingredient-Shea-Butter-Lotion-Fragrance/dp/B01693QXCA/
My name is David Lin and I am the CEO of Showered With Hope, a NYC based prospective not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to help people experiencing homelessness through the means of personal hygiene, so our mission is to transform and retrofit a transit bus into a portable hygiene station. As per the status of our organization, we are currently in talks with NYC councilmen for funding for this mobile hygiene station, but we have launched a few secondary projects.
One of our programs is the hygiene kit project. We received a generous donation from a private corporation and recently convert them to hygiene kits. We then distributed them out to those living on the streets of NYC experiencing homelessness. Due to the success of this program, we have decided to continue it and make it larger and more wide spread. With enough kits created, we hope to launch a massive street outreach run across NYC. I believe that this would be an awesome opportunity for a potential partnership where it could be beneficial to both organizations!
We are still in Phase 1 of this mega-project, and we are looking for potential donors to this project. Our goal is to create 1,000 hygiene kits, and we are looking for any unused/unsold/excess personal hygiene supplies- shampoo, soap bar, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, etc. This entire operation will be recorded through our media team, where we plan on spreading awareness of this silent problem – that those experiencing homelessness to not have access to a basic human right of personal hygiene. And in return, we want to promote all of our donors in the video. Additionally, we would love to promote your organization/company and share with our audience all the help we have received from your organization through our website, social media pages, at our fundraisers and PR events.
Please let me know if there could be any possibility of this.
Thank you so much for you time.
CEO, Showered With Hope
Could you tell me if the EO Good for Everyone lotion is okay? I have the coconut lemon one. I looked at the bottle and it says no synthetic fragrances, but honestly I don’t know what to believe anymore when it comes to what companies tell me, and what is actually the truth.