The Best Natural Body Lotion & Safe Hand Lotion Guide

Written by:

Maia James

Image of a woman using the best natural body lotion. | Gimme The Good Stuff

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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 Body and Hand Cream

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.

Remember:

  • 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.

My Top Pick for Best Natural Body Lotion

Ora’s Amazing Herbal 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. Use code GIMMETHEGOODSTUFF for 10% off!

Good Stuff

Acure Seriously Soothing 24hr Moisture 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.

Ingredients: Water/​Aqua, Aloe Vera Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cetearyl Olivate,Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil,Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Laurate,Cocoglycerides, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Colloidal Oatmeal, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter,Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Squalane, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Sodium Levulinate,Potassium Sorbate

Cost per ounce $1.75

All Good Hydrating Lotion

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.

Ingredients: Jasmine Rose: Water, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice*, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil*, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Arnica (Arnica Montana) Leaf Extract*, Vanilla Planifolia Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Fragrance Oil*, Tocopherol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate.
*Certified Organic Ingredient

Cost per ounce $2.83

Babo Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Daily Hydra Lotion

Great for adults with very sensitive, dry, or eczema-prone skin. Contains 2% colloidal oatmeal, natural shea butter, and sea buckthorn oil.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Emulsifying Wax, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid (From Coconut), Glyceryl Caprylate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Flower/Leaf Extract*, Pueraria Lobata (Kudzu) Root Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Flower Extract*, Xanthan Gum, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil

Cost per ounce: $1.93

Beautycounter Lotions & Creams

Beautycounter offers several safe hand and body creams–including Citrus Mimosa Hydrating Body LotionCitrus 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).

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Palmitate, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Carbomer, Sodium Benzoate, Phytic Acid, Allantoin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene+

Cost per ounce: $3.57

Botanical Therapeutic Tree Essence Unscented Cream

This unscented skin cream is formulated for extra dry skin to help improve your skin and scalp problems.

Ingredients: Filtered Aqua, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, Pinus banksiana (pine) extract, Medicago sativa (alfalfa) leaf, Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) flower extract, Echinacea purpurea (echinacea) flower extract, Urtica dioca (nettle) leaf extract, Trifolium pratense (clover) flower extract, Acetic Acid (apple cider vinegar), Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, Linum Usitatissimum (linseed) seed oil, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Bees Wax.

Cost per ounce $3.87

Christina Maser Olive Oil Natural Body Lotion

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.

Ingredients: Water, olive oil, meadowfoam seed oil, shea butter, emulsifying wax, cider vinegar, and pure essentials oils, tocopherol (vitamin E)

Cost per ounce $2.00

Dry Skin Moisturizing Salve by Green Goo

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!

Ingredients: *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil.

FATCO Calming Body Butta

FATCO starts with nutrient-dense tallow from grass-fed cows and blends in tons of natural plant-based oils and fats to create this wholesome, Paleo-certified moisturizer. 

Ingredients: Tallow from Grass-fed Cows, Coconut Oil*, Cocoa Butter*, Mango Butter*, Shea Butter*, Almond Oil*, Extra Virgin Olive Oil*, Beeswax, Vegetable Glycerin*, Avocado Oil*, Magnesium Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Clary Sage Essential Oil. *Denotes An Organic Ingredient.

Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk

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 $45 for the 8-ounce glass jar.

Ingredients: organic soy oil, calendula, witch hazel, lavender essential oil, beeswax, lecithin, borax, xantham gum

Cost per ounce $5.62

Kabana Skin Care

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 Crémebut 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 also love their amazing sunscreen.

Ingredients: Eldorado Springs Artesian Spring Water, Lanolin, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter, 3% Non-nano Zinc Oxide, Soy Lecithin

Cost per ounce: $3.05

Moon Valley Organics

These Herbal Lotion bars are great for anyone with sensitive skin or skin allergies. The scent is soft and basic, using essential oils as an astringent to tone the skin.

Ingredients: Lemon Vanilla: Organic Safflower oil, Organic Beeswax, Moon Valley Organic Calendula and Comfrey, Organic Vanilla flavoring, Organic Lemon essential oils and Natural Vitamin E from Sunflowers. 

Paume Probiotic Hand Balm

Premium plant based emollients deliver long lasting hydration and nourishment to the skin, while natural probiotics help to restore your skin’s natural microbiome after cleansing and sanitizing.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Methyl Glucoside Sesquistearate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil. Glyceryl Stearate Coco-Caprylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glycerin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis, (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon Peel Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid

Cost per ounce: $12.00

Plaine

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.

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Squalane, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E).

Cost per ounce $1.87

Poofy’s Lotions

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.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Organic Apricot Kernel Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Vegetable Glycerin (soybean, maize or mustard), Emulsifying Wax (Cetostearyl Alcohol & Sorbitan Ester), Organic Rosemary Extract, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate (Kimchi Seaweed), Organic Coconut Flavor Extract (organic ethyl alcohol, organic natural flavors, natural flavors).

Cost per ounce: $1.96

Use code MAIAJAMES for 10% off

Okay Stuff

Everyone Unscented 2in1 Lotion

The reason this lotion is not good stuff is: benzyl alcohol and phenoxyethanol.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sorbitan Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Esters, Stearyl Alcohol, Organic Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, EO Organic Herbal Blend [Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, and Organic Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract], Xanthan Gum, Sodium Phytate, Dimethicone, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

Cost per ounce: $0.42

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 hydantoinretinyl palmitatetriethanolamineparabens, and a handful of other chemicals are included in the various Vaseline formulas.

Lubriderm lotions contain fragrance, retinyl palmitate, BHTdiazolidinyl urea, and a cocktail of other synthetic ingredients.

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.” 

Kiehl’s popular Creme de Corps contains parabens, propylene glycol, PEG-100 stearatedimethicone, and undisclosed fragrance.

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 fragranceTerralina’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
  • Phenoxyethanol

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 Faces 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)
  • blender
  • rubber spatula (optional)
  • thermometer (optional)

Directions

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.

Maia, Founder & CEO

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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Leave a Reply

  1. John Carston Avatar
    John Carston

    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.

  2. Louisa Avatar
    Louisa

    How about Dr. Bronner’s lotions and their Magic Balm?

  3. Vera Jackson Avatar
    Vera Jackson

    How about the body lotion called Honest? I did see some cetaeryl alcohol in it. Is this a good product?

  4. Vera Avatar
    Vera

    How about the body lotion called Honest? I did see some cetaeryl alcohol in it. Is this a good product?