In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Best Baby Lotion of 2020

By Wendy Schmitz ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday October 8, 2020
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Finding a great baby lotion doesn't need to be irritating. We considered more than 30 potential lotion contenders before selecting the top 11 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.

1

Best Overall Baby Lotion


Babyganics Daily Lotion


Editors' Choice Award
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$7.99
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Soft and smooth
Free of many irritants
Absorbs slowly
Not great for dry skin

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 with this lotion during testing, and it keeps 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 contains cocoa and shea butter and uses many certified organic ingredients. This company also says the lotion has undergone no animal testing (whoohoo! furry friends).

This lotion took a longer time to absorb than much of the competition as it is somewhat thin. It seemed like we were rubbing and rubbing for a longer than other contenders. While this is not a deal-breaker for us, it can be somewhat frustrating if you have a squirming, damp baby to slather after a bath. Also, while it might make skin feel soft, we aren't sure it will solve problems related to severely dry skin or eczema type conditions. Overall, it is a gentle, smooth feeling lotion with no offensive smell and is free of several chemicals we think parents should avoid using on your baby. It is a great go-to lotion for everyday skin maintenance, moisture retension, and softness.

2

Best for Dry or Irritated Skin


Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream


Editors' Choice Award
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$7.47
(7% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Good for relieving dry skin
Absorbs quickly
Feels soft
Smaller tube
Oatmeal is a possible allergen

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.
Eucerin is a thick cream that soothes dry skin.
Eucerin is a thick cream that soothes dry skin.

3

Best for Bedtime Routine


Puracy Baby Lotion


Top Pick Award
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$14.00
List Price
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No
Baby-friendly
Certified cruelty-free
Sort of spendy
Does have a scent

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.
Puracy Baby Lotion ingredients
Puracy Baby Lotion ingredients

4

Best Lightly Scented Lotion


Burt's Bees Nourishing Baby Lotion


Top Pick Award
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$8.47
(15% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No
Absorbs quickly
Natural fragrance
Could burn irritated skin
Sticky residue

Burt's Bees Nourishing Baby Lotion is a thin, quick-absorbing lotion that feels fairly 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 cause irritation for most babies.

This option rubs in smooth but it does leave a slightly sticky residue behind 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.
Burt's is thin and runny in consistency.
Burt's is thin and runny in consistency.

5

Best Bang for the Buck


Baby Dove LotionĀ 


Best Value Award
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$6.08
(24% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Price
No Smell
Absorbs quickly
Contains petrolatum
Dries somewhat sticky

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 right away. It is entirely 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 that most testers really liked.

This lotion can get sticky once it dries, and it contains petrolatum, which could potentially contain contaminates (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 do think it is a potential contender if you need something immediately and can't wait for a harder to find alternative buying online, or if your budget doesn't permit a higher ranking option.
The Dove lotion is thin in consistency and drips somewhat.
The Dove lotion is thin in consistency and drips somewhat.

6

Favorite for Lavender Lovers


Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion


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$10.88
(40% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No
Certified organic ingredients
Petroleum-free
STRONG smell
Could be irritating

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.
The ingredients of the Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion
The ingredients of the Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion

7

Easy to Find


Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture


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$8.97
(25% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes
Easy to find in stores
Cool feeling
Contains petrolatum
Sticky after-feel

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.
The oat flour in the Aveeno lotion can act as an irritant for those who have issues with gluten.
The oat flour in the Aveeno lotion can act as an irritant for those who have issues with gluten.

8

Strong Smell with Strange Color


Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion


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$8.99
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No
No parabens
Absorbs quickly
STRONG smell
Strange color

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.
The look  feel  and smell of the Cetaphil lotion pale in comparison to the better competition.
The look, feel, and smell of the Cetaphil lotion pale in comparison to the better competition.

9

Not Recommended: Hard to Ignore Burning


Johnson's Moisturizing Baby Lotion


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$5.92
(26% off)
at Amazon
See It

Paraben Free: Yes | Fragrance-Free: No
Soft
Absorbs quickly
Burning feeling
Strong smell

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.
Unlike its  baby lotion of yore  Johnson's no longer dyes the lotion pink.
Unlike its, baby lotion of yore, Johnson's no longer dyes the lotion pink.

We tested a wide variety of lotion brands and types in our review.
We tested a wide variety of lotion brands and types in our review.

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 biology 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 contenders for our best baby lotion review in 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.

Being fragrance-free doesn't always translate to scent-free.
Being fragrance-free doesn't always translate to scent-free.

Smell


Many of the products we tested are fragrance-free, which means they have no "added" scent known as 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, clean, or "baby." Some of the baby lotions have what we call an offensive odor or a smell that is strong or lingering. 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. These reasons are why we prefer to avoid fragrance if we can, even natural fragrance, especially if they claim a proprietary blend and fail to say exactly 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 pungent, but at least lavender. In general, lavender isn't as repulsive 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 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 genuinely 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 the ingredients are. For this reason, we prefer no fragrance options and scent-free choices.

Every lotion and ointment has a different feeling at first and after it is absorbed.
Every lotion and ointment has a different feeling at first and after it is absorbed.

Feel


Lotion can feel smooth and silky or greasy and slick and everything in between. We think the best lotions 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, both of which absorb quickly without excessive rubbing and they feel soft and smooth with no stickiness or residue. They also didn't give any cooling or burning sensations for testers in our tests. The Puracy lotion includes lavender and grapefruit extracts and could irritate 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 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? You should do a lotion patch test on your little one before you smear it everywhere. Using the lotion on yourself might provide some information, but everyone is different, and baby skin is often more sensitive, so 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 residue.

For eco-health reasons we look for lotions with fewer chemicals and ingredients.
For eco-health reasons we look for lotions with fewer chemicals and ingredients.

Eco-Health


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 little one is different, some educating guessing can occur; the more additional things in a lotion, the more likely it is to pose a problem for sensitive skin. There is also research that indicates that some ingredients are not healthy for humans, and we believe you should avoid them if possible.

Your baby will inevitably come into contact with various chemicals every day. 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 of the most popular baby lotion options on the market, and some of them include questionable ingredients we don't like. 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 our review. While this alone doesn't indicate that they are entirely healthy or without concerning ingredients, we do think that any product that is trying to be healthier should get some credit.

The top competitors for eco-health include Babyganics Everyday Lotion as it is free of most of the known health and environmental concerns, contains certified organic ingredients and does no animal testing. Earth Mama also has organic ingredients and few chemicals, if you don't mind the strong natural lavender fragrance. Burt's Bees also boasts no animal testing, and Puracy is certified cruelty-free, which is impressive.

The options that include petrolatum are the options that give us pause, as it is possible that petroleum can contain impurities that are known carcinogens (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]). While the petrolatum itself appears to be considered relatively safe, it's the potential for contamination during its processing that is the concern. Whether or not the products in this round up contain contaminants isn't something we can answer, but we think there are great alternatives in this review without petrolatum, which takes it out of the equation. So if you have concerns, there are plenty of other options. Those with petrolatum include Aveeno Baby and Baby Dove.

Conclusion


Selecting an effective and useful lotion for little ones doesn't need to be mystery guesswork or blind stabs in the dark. We think our in-depth research and hands-on testing includes the details you need to choose the right lotion for your baby without draining the bank on options you wish you'd never tried. Our top-ranking contenders are the best of the bunch absorbing quickly, creating soft and smooth feelings, no odor or a light, fresh scent, and the ability to help relieve dry skin without making a greasy mess.

Wendy Schmitz