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13 Best Retinol Body Lotions of 2024 for Firmer, Smoother Skin

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13 Best Retinol Body Lotions That’ll Lead to Firmer and Smoother Skin

Because our face isn’t the only area that deserves attention.

Best Retinol Body Lotion a collage of Chantecaille Kopari and Oui the People lotions on a red background

Laneen Wells for Allure / Courtesy of brands

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The best retinol body lotion is a great skin-care investment that can address texture and uneven tone below the neck. While you may be used to seeing retinol (which falls under the family of retinoids, a catch-all term that includes all vitamin A derivatives) in a slew of facial formulations including moisturizers, serums, and cleansers, it can deliver similar benefits to the rest of your body, too. In fact, “retinol works exactly the same on all skin, whether it’s on the face or body,” says Geeta Yadav, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Toronto, Canada. Here is a closer look at the skin-boosting benefits of retinol body lotions — as well as our picks for the retinol body lotions worth adding to your skin-care routine.

Our Top Picks

Frequently Asked Questions

Best Overall: Nécessaire The Body Retinol

Nécessaire

Nécessaire The Body Retinol

Why It’s Worth It: Not only is Nécessaire aesthetically pleasing — its chic, minimalist packaging will upgrade any bathroom situation — but the editor-approved The Body Retinol has the chops to earn a permanent, rightful place in your skin-care routine. The formula has one main mission: to reduce signs of aging on the body including the appearance of fine lines, crepiness, uneven texture, and hyperpigmentation. 0.1% pure encapsulated retinol works alongside other heavy hitters like mandelic and glycolic acid (gentle chemical exfoliators) and vitamin C (a skin-brightening antioxidant) to leave behind undeniably smoother skin. Start by using it once a week before gradually increasing to every other night.

Editor Tip: The scent can be polarizing due to the high concentrations of actives, but know it wears off in a minute or so.

Key Ingredients: 0.1% encapsulated retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C | Who It’s For: People targeting scars, dark spots, and other concerns below the neck

Most Luxurious Cream: Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment

Chantecaille

Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment

Why It’s Worth It: It only takes one application to see that the Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment is well worth the price tag. This gloriously lightweight formula offers the same skin-softening benefits of a traditional body lotion but also acts as a true reparative cream, boasting encapsulated retinol — meaning it’s released slowly over time to minimize irritation — to refine skin’s texture. Also in the mix are edelweiss extract and sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid) to boost elasticity and promote hydration.

Editor Tip: Massage onto areas prone to crepiness like elbows, knees, and décolletage to level up your body-care routine.

Key Ingredients: Encapsulated retinol, edelweiss extract, sodium hyaluronate | Who It’s For: Those seeking the efficacy of retinol with the luxurious feel of a traditional body cream

Best for Mature Skin: Kopari Beauty Ultra Renewal Retinol Body Cream

Kopari Beauty

Kopari Beauty Ultra Renewal Retinol Body Cream

Why It’s Worth It: Although it’s gentle enough to be used twice a day — a rarity among retinol creams — the Kopari Ultra Renewal Retinol Body Cream still packs a respectable punch. What makes it so gentle is the encapsulated retinol, which allows for a prolonged release of retinol, as well as aminobutyric acid, a unique ingredient that encourages skin to create its own hyaluronic acid and collagen.

Editor Tip: If you’re just starting out and want to build up tolerance with retinol, alternate nights with Kopari’s ultra-gentle Coconut Melt, the product that helped put the brand on the map.

Key Ingredients: Retinol, aminobutyric acid, pomegranate | Who It’s For: People seeking firming or tightening benefits

Best for Sensitive Skin: Naturium Skin-Renewing Retinol Body Lotion

Naturium

Naturium Skin-Renewing Retinol Body Lotion

Why It’s Worth It: Itching to reap the benefits of retinol products but afraid your sensitive skin may react? Not an issue with the Naturium Skin-Renewing Retinol Body Lotion, which is free of potentially aggravating ingredients like fragrance, AHAs, and BHAs. Instead, it features sensitive-skin-friendly ingredients like moisturizing glycerin, calming allantoin, and conditioning shea butter. On top of that, it’s made with encapsulated retinol, which slows down absorption and is, therefore, less likely to irritate skin.

Editor Tip: The texture is lightweight and quick to absorb, making it a good summertime option (beneath sunscreen with at least SPF 30, of course).

Key Ingredients: Shea butter, allantoin, encapsulated retinol | Who It’s For: People who can’t typically tolerate too much exfoliation

Best Exfoliating: iS Clinical Body Complex

iS Clinical

iS Clinical Body Complex

Why It’s Worth It: While all retinol exfoliates to some extent — in enhancing skin cell turnover, it keeps dead cells from piling up on the skin’s surface — the iS Clinical Body Complex amplifies that effect with fruit-derived acids and plant-based beta hydroxy acid, which gently resurface the skin and leave it glowing. To offset any dryness, it also has a combination of aloe and hyaluronic acid. The payoff? Skin that’s ready to show off.

Editor Tip: Despite its results-driven lineup of ingredients, it’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive or compromised skin. Retinyl palmitate, also known as pro-retinol, is milder than its counterparts because it has to undergo multiple conversions to get to retinoic acid, the active form of retinol. So, know it’ll take longer to see results than if you were using pure retinol, but you’ll see them nonetheless.

Key Ingredients: Aloe, glycerin, willow bark extract, retinyl palmitate | Who It’s For: People who want extra smoothing without risking redness

Best Prescription-Strength: Musely The Body Cream

Musely

Musely The Body Cream

Why It’s Worth It: One of the star ingredients in Musely’s The Body Cream is tretinoin, also known as retinoid acid — or, in other words, the fastest-acting vitamin A derivative, as it doesn’t need to go through any conversions. This potent ingredient speeds up cell turnover to address wrinkles, breakouts, and more. Instead of making a costly trip to the dermatologist, Musely pairs you with an expert who’ll prescribe a custom formula suited to your needs. Other familiar ingredients you might spot are vitamin C to brighten sun spots and hyaluronic acid for moisture retention.

Editor Tip: If the mention of hydroquinone (which isn’t in every formula, necessarily) freaks you out, it does effectively inhibit melanin production. If you have dry and sensitive skin or a deeper skin tone, you might want to stay away — but as always, consult with a board-certified dermatologist. Another tip? Don’t use it for more than six months, or stop sooner once your hyperpigmentation fades.

Key Ingredients: Retinoic acid, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid | Who It’s For: People targeting signs of aging below the neck

Best for Dry Skin: Sol de Janeiro Flor Collagen-Boosting Elasti-Cream

Sol de Janeiro

Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Collagen-Boosting Elasti-Cream

Why It’s Worth It: Sol de Janeiro’s Flor Collagen-Boosting Elasti-Cream boosts collagen with a gentle retinol alternative called cacay oil, which mimics what retinol does without causing side effects or sensitivity to sunlight. Alongside that is vegan collagen, which helps maintain skin’s natural collagen content, as well as squalane, an emollient that smooths skin.

Editor Tip: The brand is known for the fragrances in its skin-care products; this formula has an uplifting fruity-floral scent with notes of dragonfruit, lychee, and hibiscus.

Key Ingredients: Cacay oil, plant collagen, squalane | Who It’s For: People who spend a lot of time outdoors

Best for Sun-Damaged Skin: Beauty Pie Youthbomb Body 360° Repair Concentrate

Beauty Pie

Beauty Pie Youthbomb Body 360° Repair Concentrate

Why It’s Worth It: If you’ve spent a little too much time outdoors and your skin is paying for it in the form of sun spots, try the Beauty Pie Youthbomb Body 360° Repair Concentrate. The retinol-laced lotion works hard to brighten the discoloration, courtesy of niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) and glycolic acid, and it never feels tacky or greasy. Granactive retinoid is a synthetic retinoic acid that’s less irritating and more stable ((less likely to break down when exposed to light or air), than traditional retinol. However, like retinol, it stimulates collagen production and curbs the formation of wrinkles.

Editor Tip: It has a proprietary retinol complex that’s bioavailable, meaning skin readily absorbs it.

Key Ingredients: 2% granactive retinoid, niacinamide, glycolic acid | Who It’s For: People with dark stubborn spots or discoloration

Best for Bumps and Body Acne: Topicals Slather Exfoliating Body Serum

Topicals

Topicals Slather Exfoliating Body Serum

Why It’s Worth It: If your skin can handle it, Dr. Yadav recommends an exfoliating body lotion like the Topicals Slather Exfoliating Body Serum, which contains a winning combination of retinol and glycolic and lactic acids, which are alpha-hydroxy acids that help to “reduce fine lines and discoloration as well as remove dead skin cells on the surface,” says Dr. Yadav. This allows the retinol to better penetrate the skin for deeper treatment — especially helpful if you’re trying to combat rough texture or a skin condition like keratosis pilaris.

Editor Tip: The brand’s other products, Faded and Like Butter, are also Allure editor favorites.

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, retinol | Who It’s For: People with body breakouts, strawberry skin, or keratosis pilaris

Best Lightweight: Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment

Paula’s Choice

Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment

Why It’s Worth It: If you’re looking for a dose of lightweight moisture, Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment won’t disappoint. Yes, the star of the show here is 0.1% retinol which improves the skin’s firmness, but we couldn’t gloss over the fact that it manages to make rich emollients like shea butter and grapeseed oil feel virtually weightless on the skin.

Editor Tip: A 0.1% concentration of retinol is considered mid-strength and best for those who’ve used retinol before, or for beginners, those who are comfortable with a longer acclimation period.

Key Ingredients: 0.1% retinol, shea butter, grapeseed oil | Who It’s For: People who are familiar with retinol

Best Retinol Alternative: Oui the People All in All Melting Body Balm

Oui the People

Oui the People All in All Melting Body Balm

Why It’s Worth It: Instead of retinol, sea fennel extract delivers the brightening, and tightening benefits of retinol in the Oui the People All in All Melting Body Balm. It similarly enhances collagen production and triggers skin cell turnover, while the base of shea butter — along with nourishing oils, like olive, sunflower, carrot seed, castor seed, and clove — delivers deep moisture. Just make sure you apply it to damp, post-shower skin to lock in as much moisture as possible.

Editor Tip: It has a balm-to-oil formula, which leaves skin glistening (but not at all greasy).

Key Ingredients: Olive oil, sunflower seed oil, sea fennel extract | Who It’s For: People who can’t tolerate or don’t want to use retinol

Best for Face and Body: Gold Bond Age Renew Retinol Overnight Body & Face Lotion

Gold Bond

Gold Bond Age Renew Retinol Overnight Body & Face Lotion

Why It’s Worth It: It’s rare to find a lotion that works on the face and body, but the Gold Bond Age Renew Retinol Overnight Body & Face Lotion proves it’s doable. This easily spreadable formula is fragrance-free (great for sensitive skin), non-comedogenic (so it won’t clog your pores), and formulated with several hydrating ingredients — macadamia seed oil, shea butter, cocoa seed butter, and peptides — that will combat potentially drying effects of retinol.

Editor Tip: Even if you don’t use it all over the body, it’s still a worthwhile option for the neck and chest.

Key Ingredients: Retinol, macadamia seed oil, peptides | Who It’s For: Those who want a multi-tasking product

Best Scent: Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter

Josie Maran

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter

Why It’s Worth It: Sure, the Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter comes in an unscented version, but the vanilla scent offers a welcome bit of sweetness. A milder form of retinol (retinyl palmitate) firms skin and boosts cell turnover without irritation, while the brand’s signature use of argan oil provides skin with a noticeable dew. The deliciously buttery formula is perfect for quenching your skin’s thirst all year round, but don’t fret: The non-greasy after-feel won’t delay your getting-dressed process.

Editor Tip: For those who slather on product with abandon, you can get the formula in a jumbo size of 13.5 fl. oz. (versus the 8 fl. oz. in the original tub).

Key Ingredients: Retinyl palmitate, argan oil, pink algae | Who It’s For: People who prefer a fragranced option


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of retinol body lotions?

Retinol body lotions can help address a variety of skin-care concerns, the most common one being signs of aging. “As we age, our collagen production naturally deteriorates, which leads to skin laxity, fine lines, and wrinkles,” says Dr. Yadav. “Retinol stimulates skin’s fibroblasts, the cells that create collagen, to help create firmer, tauter skin.” This can aid in tackling neck and chest creases, which Dr. Yadav says can be notoriously challenging to treat, as well as sagging, crepey skin on areas like the thighs and arms.

In addition to doing away with wrinkles, retinol can also help keep body acne and breakouts at bay by balancing sebum production and promoting faster cell turnover. “Excess oil and dead skin cells can contribute to the formation of acne, but with retinol’s ability to slough away dead skin cells and regulate oil production, pores are less likely to become congested,” explains Dr. Yadav.

Finally, if you’re dealing with discoloration or dark spots, you guessed it — retinol can help. “Retinol is what’s known as a tyrosinase inhibitor, tyrosinase being the enzyme in the body that triggers the production of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin color,” says Dr. Yadav. “Sun exposure, age, and skin injury (such as a blemish or scar) can cause hyperpigmentation.” Retinol can help combat this process by helping to fade existing discoloration, whether that’s sun spots on the shoulders or darker patches of skin on areas like the armpits or elbows.

How and when should I use retinol body lotion?

While most retinol body lotions tend to be milder than face treatments (with lower concentrations of retinol), Dr. Yadav still recommends starting slowly, especially if you have sensitive skin. “Retinol can be a little irritating, so I’d suggest applying once a week for a few weeks to start,” she says. “Then once you’ve confirmed your skin can tolerate it, increase your application cadence, following the same method until you’ve worked your way up to daily application.”

Like the retinol you use on your face, retinol in a body lotion can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s best to use it at night. (It’s pretty much a given at this point, but it bears repeating that you should also be applying sunscreen on your body during the day to protect your skin against damage — after all, sun damage is what many of us are trying to correct with retinol, says Dr. Yadav.)

Using your retinol-infused facial moisturizer on your body may have crossed your mind, and while we appreciate the desire to be efficient, this may not be the best idea. For one, the retinol moisturizer you use on your face is likely more potent than a retinol lotion formulated for your body, so the facial moisturizer is likely more irritating. Also, facial moisturizers are housed in smaller packaging, which means you’d go through them too quickly if you were to use them for your entire body. Finally, retinol body lotions are often formulated alongside other more moisturizing ingredients, so you’ll still be getting the smooth, moisturizing benefits of a traditional body lotion (unlike a facial cream that may not provide ample hydration for the body).

That being said, if you’re looking for retinol creams for the face, we recommend the following:

Eau Thermale Avène

Eau Thermale Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream

SkinCeuticals

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3

Dr. Dennis Gross

Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream

IT Cosmetics

It Cosmetics Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream

What other ingredients should I look for in a retinol body lotion?

As much as we sing retinol’s praises, the ingredient doesn’t come without its fair share of side effects, like how it can disrupt the skin barrier and strip it of natural lipids like ceramides. “Ceramides act like the ‘grout’ between your skin cells’ ‘bricks’ and help prevent moisture from escaping,” explains Dr. Yadav. “Using a body lotion with ceramides can inhibit transepidermal moisture loss and keep skin comfortable and balanced.” Aside from ceramides, seek out moisturizing plant butters like shea and cocoa, which can help “counteract the dehydrating effects of retinol, helping skin look moisturized, soft, and conditioned,” says Dr. Yadav.

How we test and review products

When Allure tests a product, our editors look at it from every angle in an effort to best serve you. We review ingredients, scrutinize brand claims, and, when necessary, examine peer-reviewed scientific and medical studies. In addition to testing each and every product that’s included in each and every review, we rely on experts who shape their fields, including dermatology, cosmetic chemistry, and medicine, to help us vet the ingredients and formulas.

For our list of the best retinol body lotions, we considered each product’s performance across five primary categories: product ingredients and efficacy, packaging, fragrance, texture, and product wear. Every product was determined to have excelled in each category by our editorial team, which is composed of in-house writers and editors as well as contributors — along with special consideration from board-certified dermatologists. To learn more information on our reporting and testing processes, read our complete reviews process and methodology page.

Our staff and testers

A beauty product is a personal purchase. You might be searching for a face cream to address persistent dryness or a new nail product to add to your Sunday self-care routine; you may simply be browsing around for the latest launches to hit the hair market. No matter what you seek or your individual needs and concerns, Allure wants to ensure that you love anything we recommend in our stories. We believe that having a diverse team of writers and editors — in addition to the wide range of outside testers and industry experts we regularly call upon — is essential to reaching that goal.

After all, can we really say a skin-care product is the “best” for people over 50 if the only testers we’ve solicited opinions from folks who have yet to hit 30? Can we honestly deem a high-end diffuser worthy of your hard-earned cash if it’s never been tested on curls? We’re proud that our staff spans a wide range of ages, skin tones, hair textures, genders, and backgrounds, which means that we are able to fairly assess any beauty product that comes into the beauty closet.


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