woman applying body lotion to her leg

What’s so hard about body lotion? Why is this category the poor relation of the beauty market? Why are body butters thick and gloopy? Why are lotions thin concoctions of mediocre ingredients? And then there’s all those body lotions that are really perfume in cream form. I’ve only ever found one anti-aging body lotion worthy of the name (Stemulation’s Relance) and I was beginning to think that if I ever found another it would be like having an out of body experience.

I began my quest with a little research on the challenge of making a good body lotion. The stratum corneum is thicker on the body than the face, so topical treatments with fancy anti-aging ingredients can’t easily penetrate. Body skin also has fewer oil glands and dries easily. Plus, there’s all that surface area — making it costly for formulators and consumers alike to attain the Holy Grail of effective anti-aging body lotion.

Still, I decided to go out on a limb and find some truly anti-aging body lotions. You know, there’s really not a lot out there. So here are my results — rejects and those that deemed worthy of testing. And if you have any to add to the list do let me know.


Elizabth Arden Prevage Body Total Transforming Anti-Aging Moisturizer ($135)

Years ago a member of the Truth In Aging community gave Prevage Body a positive review. Revisiting it today, I think I’ll take a pass since overall the good things reside with too many bad or problematic ingredients. The good includes Prevage’s signature ubiquinone, a powerful antioxidant, tripeptide 1, moisturizing phospholipids and an interesting skin whitening agent, octadecenedioic acid. But against these are every peptide known to man, plus just about every other harsh preservative, no-nos like sodium laureth sulfate and quite a lot of silicone.

Skin Care L de L Retinol Anti-Aging Body Lotion ($16.99)

I went out of my way to hunt down some body lotions with retinol and turned up this reasonably priced one on sale at Ulta. Unfortunately, the ingredients list looks as if it has been tipped upside down with dominant ingredients being preservatives and the actives straggling at the end. And then there’s some ingredients that are a mystery to me as to why they are in a cosmetic cream, such as trimethylolpropane tricaprylate/tricaprate, used for curing plastics, glue and ink.

Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment ($96)

At the other end of the price spectrum is Chantecaille and, of course, this retinol body lotion is altogether more refined.

Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-aging Body Lotion $4.99-$8.99

To see the antioxidant niacinamide as the third ingredient is a reminder of how Olay manages to stand out as a low cost drug store brand. And then there’s a slew of amino acids. Pretty impressive. The problem is that petrolatum, a cheap by-product of the oil industry, is also dominant and there are parabens abound along with harsh ingredients such as sodium hydroxide.

Selected for testing

Wilma Schumann Body Contouring Serum ($60)

I had high hopes for this body lotion that also tackles cellulite. Most of the ingredients are excellent. I especially like the unusual use of English ivy, an ingredient that was recently discovered to act as a sunscreen. Horse chestnut is believed to be helpful for broken veins and a thoughtful complex of caffeine, L-carnitine and coenzyme A is there to smooth dimpled thighs. A pity about the use of parebens though. After much back and forth with myself, I decided to give this a go on the grounds that parabens are controversial but not unequivocally proven to lead to cancer. Other preservatives are as bad if not worse. Furthermore, when we polled the Truth In Aging community 50% said they were ok about using products with parabens.

Perricone MD Cold Plasma Body ($110)

I bought a bottle of this and started using it earlier this week. It's too soon to tell what it's going to do and I can only report that it is a light, easily absorbed lotion that is pleasant to use. Certainly the formula has potential with Perricone’s signature DMAE, which is supposed to have skin firming properties, as the most dominant ingredient after water. As always, Perricone’s choice of actives are interesting with phosphatidylcholine, a kind lecithin that is anti-inflammatory and the super-antioxidant astaxanthin. It isn’t perfect — unnamed fragrance, a PEG, alcohol and usual preservatives — but it is certainly intriguing.

EO Certified Organic Body Serum 02 Restorative ($21.99)

This struck me as a decently priced all-natural body lotion. Although it calls itself a serum, I’m not sure that I will find it a potent anti-ager. However, the blend of argan and avocado oils, reinforced with vitamin E, looks nourishing.

One Love Gardenia & Tea Antioxidant Body Serum ($39)

We already like the Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics products and I was intrigued by this “body serum” that is actually a spray. The idea of spraying the body could be genius, although perhaps more of a summer product. Green tea is a given, but I was pleased to see that there is also sea buckthorn, antioxidant seaweed and pumpkin.

See all current body lotion recommendations