I’ve always declared skin care to be a personal passion, but what I really care about is body moisture. As a black woman, the beauty rule you’re first taught and repeatedly reminded of throughout life is simple: dont. be. ashy. Chalky elbows and knees have never been cute, and as far as I’m concerned, the chances of it turning into some offbeat trend are slim to none (thank goodness).
For this very specific reason, I’m constantly rotating body moisturizers atop my vanity: one, it’s just fun to try everything out; and two, the seasons warrant different needs. Whereas I was solid with a few dollops of lotion in the summer, I’m prone to sandpaper-esque skin when that winter cold settles in. And for some reason, this month has been especially cruel.
Last month, I made sure to sample a diverse range of lotions and oils, using them either alone or in combination with something else. Now that the dust has settled, I find myself constantly going back to these five. Some are cheap. Some are a bit expensive. But they all make me feel silky-smooth.
REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm
When I’m feeling bad and boujee (shout-out to Migos) and want something specifically for my knees, elbows and those scaly patches just to side of my knees, I slather them in this stuff before bed. It’s made up of a bunch of oils you may or may not have heard of (olive, almond, borage, and linseed) that are formulated to up lipid—aka the building blocks of the fats in your body—production.
Cell turnover is also believed to pick up the pace while you snooze, which is why you should always apply before you set that alarm.
$48 at Sephora
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
This is my oldie-but-goodie option, second to Bio-Oil of course. Confession: Sometimes the smell of cocoa butter kind of makes me gag, but when your skin is dry and itchy, it’s an almost-instant cure. In this case, I don’t mind the small bit of suffering.
Just never put this stuff on your face if you fall on the oily side, because pimples will pop up when you least expect them.
$6.65 at Amazon
Soap & Glory No Woman No Dry Hydrating Body Butter
When I want to feel extra cute and smell like I just walked out of the spa, this is the jar I grab. It should go without saying that if you’re a fragrance-free kind of beauty, this hibiscus-, juicy-cantaloupe-melon- and cedarwood-infused formula probably isn’t for you.
But if you live for fruity anything, know that this includes passion fruit on the ingredients label, aka you need this. The texture is also extremely rich, so a little goes a long way and you won’t need to buy another for a while—win, win!
$15 at Ulta
Girl Undiscovered Soaked in Sunshine Body Elixir Oil
There is nothing I don’t love about this New Zealand brand. First of all, the packaging is literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen; glass jars just make me happy. Truth be told, I didn’t give any of these products a real shot until my little sister kept talking about how much the face oil completely transformed her acne-prone skin.
Now I feel the same way about this body oil, made with the usual suspects—almond, coconut and avocado—as well as kawakawa leaf extract, a little-known anti-inflammatory used in ancient Maori healing methods. I’m convinced that is what keeps me coming back for more because I somehow only use a dime-size amount of it on my arms and they stay moisturized for hours on end. I don’t know how that works, but I’m not complaining.
$52 at Girl Undiscovered
Amlactin Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream
This is the only one I can’t use every day (more on this in a sec), but it’s the one product that kept my skin from itching like crazy. I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that it contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which we typically use for face exfoliation. They can do the same thing for your body, but a similar caveat applies: Sun protection is non-negotiable.
This is the only downside of chemical exfoliation, it makes your skin more vulnerable to sun exposure. With that in the back of my head, I decided this would be one of those once-in-a-while products I grab when my skin’s feeling extra irritable because it works fast.
$17.49 at Walgreens
Sh*t I Actually Use is where Beauty Editor Nikki Brown and other members of the StyleCaster team wax poetic about the products that make it past their desks and into their beauty routines.