We Tried 7 Lotions for Dry Skin and This Is the Best

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woman shopping for skin lotion in supermarket
Photo credit: zoranm/istockphoto

CREAM OF THE CROP

Ever try putting a delicate stocking over cracked, brittle heels? It's not a pretty sight. Neither are dry hands and rough elbows. We tested seven lotions for dry skin on these problem areas, using each for a few days in a row without any other medicated creams, to see which ones hydrate and soothe without leaving a greasy residue, or too big a dent in your wallet. A couple of the creams we tried are scented, but most are fragrance-free. None contains aluminum or formaldehyde, a boon for shoppers who prefer chemical-free products, and only one contains slight amounts of parabens. Here they are, beginning with the cheapest, and concluding with our pick for the best lotion for dry skin.

Prices and availability may vary.

Eucerin Skin Calming Creme
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

EUCERIN SKIN CALMING CREME

Est. Price: $6.09 for 14 fl. oz. | Buy it from Target
Scent: Fragrance-free
Moisturizing Ingredient: Colloidal oatmeal, which has soothing, anti-itch properties and is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and other skin conditions.
Recommended For: Legs and arms
Not Recommended For: Hands
Greasy Residue: Yes
What It Claims to Do: Natural oatmeal and lipids are said to give instant relief to dry, itchy skin.

woman putting on skin cream
Photo credit: Zinkevych/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF EUCERIN SKIN CALMING CREME

It's a bit on the greasy side, which is odd, because it's not a heavy cream. The residue stays on skin for a long time, which is fine if you're using it on your arms or legs but not so great for your hands. It's a favorite in online reviews on sites like Influenster, though, where users recommend it for eczema. This is also the least expensive cream we tried.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

AVEENO DAILY MOISTURIZING LOTION

Est. Price: $7.90 for 18 fl. oz. | Buy it from Rite Aid
Scent: Fragrance-free
Moisturizing Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal and dimethicone, a common emollient that forms an oily layer on the top of the skin to keep moisture in.
Recommended For: All over
Greasy Residue: None at all
What It Claims to Do: "Prevent and protect dry skin for a full 24 hours" and be clinically proven to improve skin health with a unique oatmeal formula.

woman touching her legs while sitting on couch in living room
Photo credit: Topalov/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF AVEENO DAILY MOISTURIZING LOTION

This product is incredible, especially for the price. Not only did it soothe chapped hands, it also healed cracked elbows and feet. Probably the best thing about Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion is that it leaves no oily residue whatsoever. It also lasts a long time. We slathered on the lotion in the morning and could still feel the effects the next day.
Curél Itch Defense
Photo credit: Courtesy of cvs.com

CURÉL ITCH DEFENSE

Est. Price: $8.49 for 13 fl. oz. | Buy it from CVS
Scent: Fragrance-free
Recommended For: Hands, arms, legs — the gamut
Greasy Residue: No
Moisturizing Ingredient: Advanced Ceramide Complex. Ceramides are fat molecules in the top layer of skin that help it retain and replenish moisture.
What It Claims to Do: Rebalance four components of healthy skin: ceramide levels, pH levels, moisture levels, and cellular turnover. It's also popular for moisturizing eczema-prone skin.

woman putting on skin lotion on her legs
Photo credit: dima_sidelnikov/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF CURÉL ITCH DEFENSE

This lotion works so well, we couldn't get enough of it. It's a super soother for dry, itchy skin, even helping with stubbornly dry elbows. It works even better when used immediately after showering. Consumers who have concerns about chemicals in personal-care products should note that this lotion contains slight amounts of parabens.
J.R. Watkins Shea Butter Hand Cream Coconut Milk & Honey
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

J.R. WATKINS SHEA BUTTER HAND CREAM COCONUT MILK & HONEY

Est. Price: $7.99 for 3.3 fl. oz. | Buy it from Target
Scent: Coconut milk and honey
Moisturizing Ingredients: Cocoa butter and shea butter, which comes from the shea nut and contains vitamin A, E, and cinnamic acid to help with healing.
Recommended For: Hands, all skin types
Not Recommended For: Face
Greasy Residue: Yes
What It Claims to Do: Soothe dry and delicate skin with its natural emollients.

happy woman in robe while in bedroom putting on hand cream
Photo credit: kate_sept2004/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF J.R. WATKINS SHEA BUTTER HAND CREAM COCONUT MILK & HONEY

The coconut milk and honey scent is divine, but the cream is a greasy mess, and the scent dissipates soon after it's applied to the skin. That said, it's not the worst skin cream, and it is a "99 percent natural" product with no aluminum, formaldehyde, or parabens.
Dove Dermaseries Replenishing Hand Cream
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

DOVE DERMASERIES REPLENISHING HAND CREAM

Est. Price: $6.97 for 2.5 fl. oz. | Buy it from Walmart
Scent: Fragrance-free
Moisturizing Ingredient: Dimethicone
Recommended For: Arms and legs
Not Recommended For: Palms of hands
Greasy Residue: Slight
What It Claims to Do: Instantly smooth dry hands and provide relief with its fast-absorbing formula. Continued use should infuse skin with much-needed moisture and reduce rough patches.

African American woman putting on hand cream, close-up
Photo credit: Zinkevych/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF DOVE DERMASERIES REPLENISHING HAND CREAM

This hypoallergenic lotion surprised us. Dimethicone seems to be the go-to ingredient in the most effective dry skin lotions we tested, and this Dove DermaSeries cream is no exception. It makes skin feel soft and smooth, and it worked very well on our heels and cracked elbows. The only thing we didn't like when we tested it is that it left the palms of our hands feeling noticeably slick. It's also pricier than some of the other options.
Carol's Daughter Ocean Flowers Soothing Hand Cream
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

CAROL'S DAUGHTER OCEAN FLOWERS SOOTHING HAND CREAM

Est. Price: $8.59 for 2.5 fl. oz. | Buy it from Target
Scent: Water lily and lavender
Moisturizing Ingredient: Marine algae, which allegedly conditions, hydrates, and softens skin.
Recommended For: Arms, legs, body Greasy Residue: Yes, but only temporarily
What It Claims to Do: Hydrate and renew dry, dull hands. It also purports to replenish vitamins and minerals, restore moisture for up to 24 hours, and leave skin feeling rejuvenated.

happy woman putting on hand cream, close-up
Photo credit: petrunjela/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF CAROL'S DAUGHTER OCEAN FLOWERS SOOTHING HAND CREAM

This lotion goes on with an oily residue, which is strange for a hand cream. However, within half an hour, the grease is gone and you're left with sweet-smelling, smooth skin. We love the fresh scent. This cream from Carol's Daughter is great for hydrating arms and legs as well as hands, although moisturizing a larger area with the small tube would get expensive. Many consumers will appreciate that this lotion is paraben- and petrolatum-free and has no artificial colors.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Photo credit: Courtesy of walgreens.com

AQUAPHOR HEALING OINTMENT

Est. Price: $6.29 for 1.75 fl. oz. | Buy it from Walgreens
Scent: Fragrance-free
Moisturizing Ingredients: Lanolin and petrolatum, which is derived from petroleum and helps keeps skin soft by blocking water loss.
Recommended For: Nighttime use and intense moisturizing
Not Recommended For: Daytime use
Greasy Residue: Yes
What It Claims to Do: Clinically proven to restore skin to a smooth, healthy state. It also claims to be the No. 1 dermatologist-recommended brand for dry, cracked skin.

woman applying moisturizing creme on her fingers
Photo credit: LuminaStock/istockphoto

OUR REVIEW OF AQUAPHOR HEALING OINTMENT

Aquaphor Healing Ointment (Advanced Therapy) is akin to petroleum jelly (the product is 41 percent petrolatum) but has a thicker consistency. There are conflicting reports on the use of petrolatum in skin care products; some dermatologists contend that it's safe while others advise against its use. It also gets a bad rap for its somewhat slick, gel-like consistency. This is not a good product for daytime use, as it's way too oily and leaves a thick residue on the skin. However, we used it at night on cracked heels and dry hands, then donned cotton socks and gloves. When we woke the next day, dryness and cracks were virtually gone.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

AND THE WINNER IS ... AVEENO DAILY MOISTURIZING LOTION

With its combination of colloidal oatmeal and dimethicone, non-greasy formula, staying power, and low price per ounce, Aveeno wins hands down.

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