Finding a great baby lotion doesn't need to be irritating. We considered more than 30 potential lotion contenders before selecting the top 10 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 which one is right for your family.
Best Baby Lotions and Ointments of 2020
Babyganics Daily Lotion is a fragrance and dye-free lotion that goes on smooth and feels soft when dry. We didn't get any irritation or burning sensations with this lotion, and it kept the skin feeling soft for hours. The application is easy, and the pump works well. This lotion is free of fragrance, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, and dyes. It does contain cocoa butter and shea butter and uses many certified organic ingredients. This lotion has undergone no animal testing.
This lotion took a long time to absorb. It felt like we were rubbing and rubbing for a long time compared to the competitors. While not a deal-breaker, it can be annoying if you have a squirming baby to wrestle with after a bath. Also, while it might make skin feel soft, we aren't convinced it will cure severely dry skin or eczema type conditions. Overall, it is a gentle smooth feeling lotion that has no offensive smell and is free of many chemicals we think you should avoid using on your baby. It is a great go-to lotion for everyday skin maintenance and softness.
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, provides relief to 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 definitely 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 can provide to help smooth and soothe skin. While it may not be necessary for everyday use, we love what it brings to the table for relief of irritated skin.
Puracy Baby Lotion is a smaller brand alternative lotion that prides itself on being organic and baby-friendly. This lotion has a light lavender and citrus scent that isn't strong and not offensive. It isn't the typical lavender calming variety you might be family with, but it is mildly pleasant. This lotion is smooth and absorbs quickly with no sticky residue. It feels smooth and soft once absorbed, and the scent doesn't linger for long. Puracy is free from silicone, parabens, dyes, phthalates, formaldehyde, PEG, nut-based ingredients, animal by-products, and harsh chemicals. It is vegan and biodegradable and certified cruelty free, the only lotion in the lineup to make these claims. It contains sunflower oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil with lavender and pink grapefruit essential oils and 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. Also, while not expensive, it is more per ounce than most of the competition 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, then this is a good one to consider.
Burt's Bees Nourishing Baby Lotion is a thin quick-absorbing lotion that feels smooth. It has a light vanilla and lavender smell from natural ingredients, not a chemical mystery concoction. This lotion feels like a good before bed calming ritual lotion and is free of most things that can cause irritation for most babies.
This lotion goes on smooth but leaves a slightly sticky residue behind that takes some time to go away. Also, while we liked the scent, it is still a scent, so if you are searching for truly smell free lotion, this shouldn't be your top choice. While this lotion didn't burn our skin during testing, it does feel like it could being irritating to already dry or damaged skin, and we wouldn't recommend it for eczema or very dry skin.
Burt's Bees Baby 100% Natural Multipurpose Ointment is a useful ointment to have around to soothe skin or treat minor irritations. This ointment contains no petroleum, making it a potentially safer option over the traditional ointments for babies.
While most of the ingredients in this ointment are very baby-friendly and are not concerning, the "natural fragrance" gives us pause as it could be anything, and they don't identify what is in nor do they have to by law. The label of "fragrance" is where some manufacturers choose to hide chemicals and ingredients you may be trying to avoid, and as fragrances are proprietary, they aren't required to tell you where it comes from. This means it could contain known irritants or allergens. Given this, we recommend a patch test before slathering your little one. Overall, we prefer this option over any petroleum-based ointment and think if you need an ointment, this one could come in handy.
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 something last minute. It is completely scent-free, which is nice and free from dyes, parabens, and phthalates with a neutral pH. Dove absorbs quickly and goes on smooth with a soft feeling immediately after application.
This lotion can get sticky once it dries, and it contains petrolatum, which comes from petroleum (see more in our eco-health section below). We aren't sure how effective it will be on severely dry skin, but at least it isn't likely to irritate it further, given its lack of common irritants. While we wish this option were offered sans petroleum, we do think it is a potential contender if you need something and can't wait for a harder to find alternative, or if your budget doesn't allow a higher ranking choice.
Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion is free of petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, and artificial fragrances, and contains certified organic ingredients. The lotion feels coolant 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 skin, so you'll be rubbing for awhile. 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 Lotion 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 be an irritant for 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 bring with them potential health concerns. Given the other options available without petroleum, we think there are better options in this lineup.
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 any variety of 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 does leave a sticky feeling residue behind, which makes 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 as being familiar from their childhood, which is why they might purchase this lotion as a result of brand recognition. 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, the scent of this product 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's 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 there are better options available.
Aquaphor Ointment is a specialized product intended to help or treat irritated or extremely dry skin. While the ointment seems to do just that and did not irritate the skin in our tests, it is petroleum-based (petrolatum), which is one chemical we think doesn't belong on your baby.
Given the availability of similar products that are free of petroleum, we think it is best to steer clear of this option in favor of ointments that have more natural ingredients that are not petroleum-based.
Why You Should Trust Us
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, with an education in science and human anatomy, she brings a scientific background to the testing and research of each lotion. 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 10 contenders for our best baby lotion review. With side-by-side comparisons, we have the details on smell, feel, and eco-health of each product in this review so you can find the right option for your family.
Many of the products we considered are fragrance-free, which means they have no "added" scent known as fragrance included in their formula. However, this does NOT mean they are without odor. Other products have added perfumes or fragrances designed to inspire feelings of freshness, clean, or "baby." Some of the baby lotions even have what we would call an offensive odor or an odor that is particularly strong or lingering. We don't think babies need any kind of fragrance to smell amazing and that any introduction of smells just introduces more chemicals to the mix. And we believe that less is more when it comes to additives. Especially on sensitive new baby skin that absorbs everything to some degree.
Also, it is essential to note that manufacturers don't have to identify 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. Once "fragrance" listed on the ingredients could contain 100's of chemicals, and you'll never know what they are. These reasons are why we prefer to avoid fragrance if we can, even natural fragrance, especially if they fail to say precisely what it is.
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 way 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 strong, but at least lavender, in general, isn't as repulsive for 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 amount of odor are the BabyGanics Daily Lotion and Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion, which both are scent-free. Those with a light scent or mild scent include Puracy, which has a slight citrus edge to it that dissipates quickly, and Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream, which doesn't have a scent but also isn't truly odor-free like the Babyganics lotion.
The takeaway is "fragrance-free" does not mean scent-free, and you need to be careful with even "natural" fragrances if they don't specify what it is. For this reason, we lean toward no fragrance options.
Lotion can feel smooth and silky or greasy and slick and everything in between. We think the best lotions for a baby absorb quickly and leave a smooth 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. While we did test a couple of ointments in this group, the majority of contenders were lotions, and therefore, should rub into the skin and leave little residue behind. The ointments are another ball of wax and are intended for minimal use over irritated or dry skin and are meant to leave behind somewhat of a film to protect the skin beneath as it heals.
The best feeling options include Babyganics, Puracy Baby Lotion, and Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream, all of which absorb quickly without excessive rubbing and feel soft and smooth with no stickiness or residue left behind. They also didn't give any cooling or burning sensations for any testers in our group. The Puracy lotion includes lavender and grapefruit extracts and could irritate if your skin is dry or cracked, but we didn't experience this. We do recommend a patch test just in case.
The worst feeling baby lotions were the Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion, which is thin and slippery when applied but dries to a sticky consistency that feels like something is left behind on your skin. Baby Dove and Burt's Bees, Nourishing Baby Lotion are also sticky after absorption. Still, at least they didn't result in a slight burning sensation for some of our testers like Johnson's Baby Moisturizing Pink Baby Lotion and Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion.
The takeaway? For the most part, you should do a patch test of any lotion on your little one before you slather it everywhere. Trying it on yourself could also provide information, but since everyone is different and baby skin is more sensitive, it won't be 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 than those that left a sticky feeling behind.
Lotion eco-health means less of everything (within reason); fewer additives, fewer chemicals, fewer perfumes, simply less of anything that could be harsh on newborn skin, irritate dry or rashy areas or impact health in a negative way. While we can't say what may or may not irritate your baby's skin, as every little one is different, we can make an educated guess that the more extra things a lotion contains, the more likely it is to potentially cause a problem to those sensitive to chemicals or with allergies. There is also research to indicate that some ingredients are not healthy for humans, and we believe you should avoid them whenever possible.
Your little one will come into contact with a variety of chemicals every day; some studies indicate an average of up to 60 chemicals a day! According to the Environmental Working Group non-profit corporation, a group committed to healthier living:
We've reviewed many of the most popular baby lotion options on the market, and some of them include questionable ingredients we aren't fond of. When looking for products for your little one from body wash to lotions, the EWG has some tips to help find the safest option.
For these reasons, products with fewer chemicals earned more points in this review. While this doesn't indicate they are completely healthy or without any concerning ingredients, we do feel that any option that is trying to be healthier should be given credit.
The top contenders for eco-health include Babyganics Everyday Lotion as it is free of most of the health and environmental concerns, includes certified organic ingredients and performs no animal testing. Earth Mama also has organic ingredients and few chemicals, if you don't mind the natural fragrance it comes with. Burt's Bees also boasts no animal testing, and Puracy is certified cruelty-free, which is excellent.
The bummers in this group are any that contain petrolatum, which often contains impurities that are known carcinogens (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]). While the petrolatum itself seems to be considered relatively safe, it's the potential for contamination during the processing of it that is the primary concern. Whether the products in this round up contain these potential contaminants isn't something we can answer, but we think there are plenty of great alternatives that do not contain petrolatum. So if you are worried about it, you have plenty of other options. Those with petrolatum include Aveeno Baby, Baby Dove, and Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment.
Finding an excellent lotion for your baby doesn't have to be a shot in the dark or random guesswork. We believe our research and hands-on testing in this review provides the information you need to find the best option for your baby without breaking the bank on products you wish you'd never bothered buying. Our top-ranked options are the best of the bunch absorbing quickly, leaving a smooth feeling behind, no odor or a light, fresh scent, and the ability to help relieve dry skin without a greasy mess.
— Wendy Schmitz