Find The Right Lotion for You

Problem: The lotion doesn't absorb quickly.

This common complaint is usually the result of using too much of a lotion that contains high levels of emollients — ingredients meant to stop water from evaporating from your skin. "People typically use twice as much lotion as they should," says Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist in Chicago.

The fix: It's simple — use less! "Cover as much of the surface of your skin with as little lotion as possible," recommends Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist and a vice president of Englewood Labs, in New Jersey. "This minimizes the amount of time the lotion takes to become absorbed into your skin."

You might also need to exfoliate before you moisturize. If you have a dull, flaky layer on the surface of your skin, these dried-up cells can impede the lotion's absorption. A moisturizer with lactic acid simultaneously tackles exfoliating and moisturizing.

Problem: The lotion leaves streaks.

As you apply the lotion on your skin, the water in it evaporates, and the residue is the visible evidence of the emollients that help moisturize the skin.

The fix: Again, use less of the product. The next time you shop, switch to a product that contains dimethicone but no petrolatum. "Petrolatum takes longer to rub in, and dimethicone, a clear ingredient, leaves no streaking," says Romanowski.

Problem: The lotion feels greasy.

The cause, again, is a high level of emollients. In particular, dimethicone, a type of silicone, takes time to evaporate once you apply the lotion, according to Romanowski.

The fix: The next time you shop, look for a lotion that has cyclomethicone. "Cyclomethicone is a lighter silicone," says Romanowski, "and it will evaporate quicker than dimethicone."

One easy remedy is to counteract the high level of emollients by adding a dash of baby powder to the lotion before applying it. "I sprinkle a little bit into my hand with the lotion, and premix it before rubbing it in," says Wilson. "This helps soak up the extra oil." Be careful not to use too much or the mixture may clump.

Problem: I have to keep applying the lotion.

This complaint typically stems from using a lotion that isn't heavy enough for your needs, or waiting too long to apply the lotion after your shower.

The fix: Dermatologists recommend that you apply lotion when your skin is still damp after you bathe, especially during dry winter months. This helps seal in moisture before it evaporates, and keeps your skin feeling softer longer.

In addition, you can supercharge the lotion by mixing a couple of drops of oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, into the dollop of lotion in your hand. Says Wilson, "By doing this, you're simply adding extra emollients and giving the application a little more staying power."

Problem: The fragrance is too strong.

Products that smell good in the beauty aisle sometimes take on a different character when you bring them home.

The fix: There's not much you can do to alter a scent once you've brought a product home, but you can be on the lookout for potential offenders in the future. Be aware of the difference between "unscented" and "fragrance free: " An "unscented" lotion typically contains a masking fragrance to cover up the chemical scent of the product; a product labeled "fragrance free," while it won't contain an added fragrance, could still have a strong odor.

Besides the terms "fragrance," "perfume," and "parfum," the ingredients list may also contain the words "linalool" and "limonene," which are stealth fragrance ingredients.

Problem: I want to use one moisturizer for my face and body.

Multitasking isn't a good idea when it comes to moisturizing — very few people can use one product from head to toe. "Using just one product for everything can work, but only if your body doesn't get very dry and you have 'normal' skin on your face," says Wilson. Products designed for the body can contain heavier ingredients than moisturizers for the face, and heavier formulas can clog pores.

The fix: If you're lucky enough to have overall low-maintenance skin, Wilson recommends a gentle multipurpose formula. However, if you're like most people, with dry skin on the body and facial skin that's prone to acne or has wrinkles, you'll need different products to address these separate skin problems.

Problem: The lotion stings or irritates my skin.

These are signs of sensitivities or allergies, possibly brought on by fragrances or preservatives in your lotion. These additives can come in many forms, such as potassium sorbate, parabens, and DMDM hydantoin. Existing skin problems may also contribute to stinging and burning. "If you have a rash or a cut," says Romanowski, "the area may be especially sensitive to emulsifiers or fragrance ingredients."

The fix: This may seem obvious, but stop using any product that stings or irritates your skin. There's no real fix for such a reaction aside from avoiding the irritant in the first place. Before you buy any new product, find out about your skin and its reaction triggers. Scan ingredients panels carefully and avoid products that contain irritants like dyes and fragrances. Look for formulas designed for sensitive skin or for infants.

5 Common Hygiene Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Learn more

Do you need to shower every day? Wash your hands with scalding-hot water? Here's the dirt, according to health experts.

Which Collagen Sources Should You Try?

From powders and gummies to foods and topicals, here’s a list of collagen sources ranked from best to worst.

Potentially Toxic Chemicals Called PFAS Are Common in Cosmetics, Study Finds

Lab tests suggest that more than half of cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada may contain high levels of the chemical. U.S. legislators recently...

6 Places You're Missing When You Apply Sunscreen

No matter how thorough your SPF routine, these are the spots experts say are often overlooked.

Ask a Castle Connolly Top Doctor: How Aging and Gravity Affect Your Skin

A renowned plastic surgeon, recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor, discusses the factors that affect our skin’s appearance, and how patients can ...

California Bans 24 Toxic Chemicals From Personal-Care Products: What to Know

A bellwether state for federal efforts, California just became the first in the nation to ban certain chemicals from cosmetics and personal-care ingredients...

What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil for Your Hair?

Eating more whole fish with omega-3 fatty acids may help strengthen your tresses, but there’s limited evidence that fish oil pills will do the same.

Read more on: beauty, skin