Finding a great baby lotion doesn't need to be irritating. We considered more than 30 potential lotion contenders before selecting the top 9 competitors for our hands-on testing. A great lotion should absorb quickly, leave no residue, and smell appealing or not at all while still doing its job of helping dry skin or keeping skin smooth and healthy. We test for all these metrics and more in our side-by-side tests of baby lotions to help you determine which options are the best and a good fit for your family.
Babyganics Daily Lotion is a fragrance and dye-free lotion that goes on smooth and feels soft when dry. We didn't experience any irritation or burning sensations during testing with this lotion, and it kept our tester's skin feeling soft for hours. The application is easy, and the pump works well. This lotion is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, and dyes and has no scent whatsoever. It contains cocoa and shea butter and uses several certified organic ingredients. This company also claims the lotion was created with no animal testing (Good news for furry friends).
This lotion takes longer to absorb than many of the competitors as it is somewhat thin. It felt as if we were rubbing and rubbing for longer than other options. While this is not a deal-breaker for us, we imagine it could be somewhat challenging if you have a squirming, damp baby to smear fully after bathtime. While it made skin soft during testing, we aren't sure it will solve problems related to severely dry skin or eczema-related conditions. Overall, it is a gentle, smooth feeling lotion with no offensive smell and is free of many chemicals we think parents should avoid. We believe this option is a great go-to lotion for everyday skin maintenance, moisture retention, and softness for healthy skin.
Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream is a thicker cream-style lotion designed for dry skin and eczema. This lotion is fragrance-free, dye-free, and steroid-free. It goes on smooth, stays moist for a prolonged period, relieves irritated skin, and absorbs quickly with no sticky residue. We like how the skin feels after use and enjoy the lack of offensive fragrances. In our experience, the lotion protects the skin for hours without discomfort from dryness or itching.
This lotion comes in a smaller tube, and while reasonably priced, you can get more lotion for your dollar looking elsewhere, and if dry skin or eczema is bad, it could go fast. Overall, we feel this is a good product for dry skin or when you need a little more than your typical lotion to help smooth and soothe skin. While it may not be necessary for everyday use, we love what it brings to the table to relieve irritated skin.
Puracy Baby Lotion is an alternative brand lotion that boasts organic ingredients and is baby-friendly. This lotion has a light lavender and citrus scent that we didn't find offensive and was light compared to other options in this lineup. It isn't the standard lavender calming variety you might be familiar with. This lotion is smooth and absorbed quickly during testing with no sticky residue. It feels soft once absorbed, and the scent doesn't linger long after application, unlike others that hang in the air. Puracy is free from silicone, parabens, dyes, phthalates, formaldehyde, PEG, nut-based ingredients, animal byproducts, and harsh chemicals. It is vegan, biodegradable, and certified cruelty-free; the only product in this group to make all these claims. It contains sunflower oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil with lavender and pink grapefruit essential oils with added vitamin E.
There isn't much to dislike about this great lotion. It even has a cute giraffe on the bottle. However, if you don't want any scent, you need to skip this one, and a patch test might be in order due to the use of essential oils and their potential to irritate. Also, while not expensive, it is more per ounce than most competitors in this review. But if you are looking for a great vegan, cruelty-free lotion that feels smooth, absorbs quickly, and is free of most known irritants, this is a good one to consider.
Burt's Bees Nourishing Baby Lotion is a thin, quick-absorbing lotion that feels relatively smooth. It has a light vanilla and lavender smell from natural ingredients, not a chemical mystery concoction. This lotion feels like a potential contender for a ritual before-bed calming lotion and is free of most things that can irritate most babies.
This option rubs in smooth, but it leaves a slightly sticky residue that takes some time to go away. Also, while we liked the scent, it is still a scent and potentially irritating, so if you are searching for truly "smell-free" lotion, this may not be your number one option. While this lotion didn't burn or irritate in our tests, we can see how it could be potentially irritating to already dry or damaged skin, and we wouldn't recommend it for eczema or very dry skin.
Baby Dove Lotion is a basic lotion with no frills. This lotion can be readily found in your grocery store or online, making it a good choice if you need it immediately. It is scent-free, nice, and free from dyes, parabens, and phthalates with a neutral pH. Dove absorbs quickly and goes on smoothly with a soft feeling immediately after application which most testers really liked.
This lotion can get sticky once it dries, and it contains petrolatum, which could potentially contain contaminants (see more in our eco-health section below). We aren't sure about its effectiveness on severely dry skin, but at least it isn't likely to irritate it further, given its formulation that lacks many common irritants. While we wish this product didn't contain petroleum, we think it is a potential contender if you need something immediately and can't wait for a harder-to-find alternative to buy online or if your budget doesn't permit a higher-ranking option.
Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion is free of petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, and artificial fragrances and contains certified organic ingredients. The lotion feels cool and refreshing when first applied, and those who love the scent of lavender will be impressed with the aroma.
This lotion goes on white at first, almost like sunscreen, and while it feels cool at first, some testers felt a burning sensation shortly after application making it a poor choice for irritated or sunburnt skin. It also takes forever to absorb into the skin, so you'll be rubbing for a while. If you aren't looking for a lavender scent, then skip this one. The smell is overpowering and lingers for a long time after use. If lavender isn't your thing, you won't be pleased. However, if you like all things lavender and want a scented lotion for bedtime calming, this could do the trick and is free of many known chemical concerns. We do recommend a test patch as lavender can cause allergic relations for some.
Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture is an easy-to-find brand-name lotion you've probably seen on the baby shelves in your local grocery or big box store. This brand name recognition might have you giving it a go. This lotion is free of fragrance, parabens, and phthalates. It has a cool feeling right after application that could be soothing to sunburnt or irritated skin.
This lotion tasks time to absorb and, once absorbed, feels sticky, as if something is left behind. This lotion contains oatmeal, which can irritate some with sensitive skin. It also includes petrolatum, which comes from petroleum. In general, we prefer to steer clear of petroleum-based products as they can potentially bring with them potential health concerns depending on how the petroleum is processed. Given the other options available without petroleum, we think this lineup has better options.
Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion is a thin and slippery lotion that absorbs quickly into the skin. This lotion feels like it could relieve dry skin, but it is hard to tell, given the overall feeling left behind. Cetaphil is paraben, mineral oil, and colorant-free.
This lotion has the most potent smell in the group, and it is powerful. It stung our noses during testing and lingered on the skin for hours. The smell is so significant that you can follow the odor around the house to locate the wearer. The scent is akin to cheap perfume, and none of the testers liked it, with some trying to wash the lotion off to get rid of the smell. Added fragrances can consist of various chemicals that do not need to be identified by the manufacturer. Since fragrances are considered proprietary, they can include any number of chemicals that you will never be aware of. Also, this lotion is a strange orange color, and given its lack of added colorants, we aren't sure what is giving it the sherbert color, but it almost looks like the lotion has gone bad. While this product absorbs into the skin quickly, it leaves a sticky feeling residue behind, making it difficult for us to determine how well it works on dry skin. Overall, we aren't big fans of this lotion and aren't sure that anything with this strong of a fragrance should be used on a baby.
Johnson's Moisturizing Baby Lotion feels like a traditional staple in a baby's nursery as it seems to have been around forever in one form or another. While the lotion itself is no longer pink in color, parents will likely recognize the pink bottle from their childhood, which is why they might purchase this lotion. The lotion absorbs quickly and is free of parabens, phthalates, and dyes. It has a nostalgic scent and feels soft, not sticky, once it is absorbed.
Unfortunately, this product's scent is strong, and while not offensive at first, it can become overwhelming the longer you smell it. The lotion burns somewhat after application and the initial absorption, and we don't think this will be good for dry skin as it feels like it will be more of an irritant than a help. While you might be drawn to the brand name or even memories from your youth, we think better options are available.
Why You Should Trust Us
We researched various popular lotions looking for options that appeal to the masses and those looking for something a little different. We preferred lotions with fewer and fragrance-free ingredients, but we also purchased and tested popular options familiar to most parents. We tested each lotion in our homes on our babies and children for months. We compared everything from feel, smell, ingredients, ability to soothe, quality, and more to determine our award winners and ranking.
We've been testing baby gear for almost eight years. We've tested a variety of categories, from sunscreen and bathtubs to washcloths and baby wipes. We purchase and test most products in a side-by-side, hands-on format in the real world with real babies and parents. To determine which lotions are the best for babies, Wendy Schmitz, Senior Review Editor, was the lead on product selection, choosing top contenders for testing. Wendy is a mother of two. She brings a scientific background to each lotion's testing and research with an education in biology and human anatomy. Her family used each lotion in the roundup, providing valuable feedback for award winners and product ranking.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased and tested contenders for our best baby lotion review to conduct side-by-side comparison tests. We have the details on each product's smell, feel, and eco-health in this review so you can find the right option for your family.
Many of the products we tested are fragrance-free, which means they have no "added" scent known as a fragrance or "parfum" in their formula. However, this does NOT mean they lack odor. Other products have added perfumes or fragrances designed to inspire feelings of freshness, cleanness, or "baby." Some baby lotions have what we call an offensive odor or a strong or lingering smell. We don't think babies need fragrances to smell amazing, and any introduction of scents just introduces more chemicals to the mix. And we believe that less is more when it comes to chemical additives since your skin absorbs everything to some degree.
Also, it is essential to note that manufacturers do not have to reveal the ingredients in their fragrances. Whether natural or not, many fragrances can contain irritants or other concerning chemicals known for endocrine disruption or other health concerns. One "fragrance" listed on the ingredients could contain 100s of chemicals, and the company doesn't have to tell you what they are. We prefer to avoid fragrances, even natural ones, especially if they claim a proprietary blend and fail to say precisely what is included.
The most potent smelling options are the Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion and the Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion, with the Johnson's Baby Moisturizing Pink Baby Lotion, coming in a short distance behind them. The Cetaphil is particularly offensive, as it smells like perfume and lingers so strongly you wouldn't be able to play hide and seek while wearing it as the seeker could just follow the smell to your location. Earth Mama is also intense, but at least lavender. In general, lavender isn't considered offensive to most people, but if you don't like lavender, then it is a no-go for sure, as we feel it has the strongest lavender scent in the lineup.
The best smelling choices or those with the least odor are the BabyGanics Daily Lotion and Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion, which are scent-free. Those with a light or mild scent include Puracy, with a slight citrus scent that dissipates quickly, and Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream, which doesn't have a scent but also isn't genuinely odor-free like the Babyganics lotion.
The takeaway is that "fragrance-free" does not mean scent-free, and you need to be careful with even "natural" fragrances if they don't specify the ingredients. For this reason, we prefer no fragrance and scent-free choices.
Lotion can feel smooth and silky or greasy and slick, and everything in between. We think the best options absorb quickly and leave a smooth, soft feeling behind. A lotion that is too slick or greasy could leave you struggling to keep ahold of your little one, and something that dries to a sticky consistency could also be uncomfortable for your baby. Lotions should rub into the skin and leave little residue behind.
The best feeling lotions on the skin in our tests include Babyganics, Puracy Baby Lotion, and Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream. Each option absorbs quickly without excessive rubbing and feels soft and smooth with no stickiness or residue. They also didn't give any cooling or burning sensations to testers in our tests. The Puracy lotion includes lavender and grapefruit extracts and could irritate the skin if it is dry, burned, or cracked, but we didn't experience this. We recommend a patch test with any lotion you choose to be safe.
The worst feeling option in our tests is the Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion. This lotion is initially thin and slippery and then dries to a sticky substance that feels somewhat like a filmy residue is left on your skin. Baby Dove Lotion and Burt's Bees, Nourishing Baby Lotion are also sticky after you rub them in. On the bright side, they didn't result in a burning sensation during our tests like Johnson's Baby Moisturizing Pink Baby Lotion and Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion did for some of our testers.
The takeaway? Most manufacturers recommend (and we agree) a lotion patch test on your little one before you smear it everywhere. Using the lotion on yourself might provide some information. Still, every skin is different, and baby skin is typically more sensitive, so patch testing yourself is unlikely to provide all the information you need. Lotions with no fragrance felt better over time, and those that left skin feeling soft and smooth were preferable to our testers to those that left a sticky or slippery residue.
Lotion eco-health means finding a product with less of everything (within reason); fewer additives, chemicals, perfumes, less of anything that could be potentially harsh on newborn skin, irritate dry or rashy areas or negatively impact health. While we can't say what might irritate your baby's skin, as every child is different, some educated guessing is possible; the more additional ingredients in a lotion, the more potential there is for irritation to sensitive skin. Our research also indicates that some ingredients may not be healthy for humans, and we believe you should avoid them if possible.
Your baby will inevitably be exposed to various chemicals every day; after all, we are all exposed daily whether we want to be or not. Some studies indicate a potential average of up to 60 chemicals a day! According to the Environmental Working Group non-profit corporation, a group committed to healthier living:
An EWG study found that personal care products expose children to an average of 60 chemicals every day that they can breathe in or absorb through their skin.
We've reviewed many popular baby lotions on the market, and some of them include questionable ingredients, in our opinion. When looking for products for your little one, the EWG offers tips to help find the safest option.
For these reasons, lotions with fewer chemicals earned more points in our review. While this alone doesn't indicate that they are entirely healthy or without concerning ingredients, we think any product that is trying to be healthier should be given some credit.
The top contender for eco-health is Babyganics Everyday Lotion. This lotion is free of most known health and environmental concerns, contains certified organic ingredients, and isn't tested on animals. Earth Mama also has organic ingredients and few chemicals if you can tolerate or enjoy the powerful (in our opinion) natural lavender scent. Burt's Bees also boasts no animal testing, and Puracy is certified cruelty-free, which is impressive and a bonus in our book.
The products that include petrolatum raise potential concerns for us. Petrolatum is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process, and if properly refined, petroleum has no known health concerns. So, what's the fuss? The Environmental Working Group found in their study of skincare products that a significant percentage of petroleum-based products contained impurities that potentially include known carcinogens (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]). Whether or not the options in this lineup contain contaminants isn't something we know or can be sure of. Still, we think there are excellent alternatives that do not contain petrolatum, which entirely takes potential contaminants out of the equation.
The "Campaign for Safe Cosmetics" advises checking to see if "…the company indicates petrolatum is fully refined as white petrolatum (on the label or their company website)" before you use a product containing petrolatum. If you have concerns, there are plenty of other lotions from which to choose. Those with petrolatum include Aveeno Baby and Baby Dove Lotion.
Choosing the best lotion for little ones shouldn't include mystery guesswork or wasted effort. Our detailed research and hands-on testing can provide the information you need to make the right selection for your baby without wasting money on lotions you'll want to toss immediately upon opening. Our high-ranking and award-winning picks are the best of the bunch, providing soft and smooth-feeling skin with quick absorption. These impressive lotions have no odor or limited scent and help relieve dry skin without being greasy or slippery.