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The 7 Best Substitutes for Lotion

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Natural alternatives to skincare products are becoming more and more popular. The good news is that there are several types that work wonders for skin that can be found around the house.

Natural honey is a great substitute for lotion due to its exfoliating and antioxidant properties. Aromatherapy oils and butter can also work due to their versatility while a homemade moisturizer and toner can improve your skin’s balance. You can also use oats and water as lotion substitutes. 

In this article, I’ll list some of the best substitutes for lotion while answering some of the commonly asked skincare questions.

1. Natural Honey

Woman Holding Honeycomb and a Bowl of Honey

With its soothing, moisturizing, exfoliating, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, natural honey makes an excellent substitute for lotion. 

Most of the honey in supermarkets is packed with sugar and too refined to be beneficial as a lotion substitute, but Manuka, buckwheat, or raw honey is perfect. 

Honey can accelerate the healing process due to its high antioxidant content if you have:

  • Scars
  • Stretch marks
  • Closed wounds 

And since honey is sticky, it’s best to give it time to sink into your skin before dressing up. Using honey when in a rush is not recommended as it can easily stain your clothing.

2. Aromatherapy Oils

Aromatherapy oils are incredibly versatile and have moisturizing, medicinal, and herbal properties. 

They’re completely natural and contain no harsh ingredients that can irritate the skin. If you’re looking for a natural lotion substitute, then you might want to try out aromatherapy oils.

Aromatherapy oils that you can use instead of lotion include:

You can apply aromatherapy oil directly to your skin, or you can use it as a moisturizing bathtub soak by placing a few drops in the water. 

Aromatherapy oils usually come in small bottles because a little goes a long way, and you only need a few drops to moisturize a large area of skin. 

If you don’t have aromatherapy oils, you can use baby oil, which is gentle and highly moisturizing. 

And while you can use canola oil instead of lotion, it’s best to avoid using used cooking oil as it may irritate your skin and even clog your pores. 

Some aromatherapy oils (such as bergamot, orange, or lemon) can be phototoxic and increase your skin’s sun sensitivity. 

3. Moisturizing Shower Cream or Oil

Are you looking for a low-cost lotion alternative, and do you want to save time getting ready in the mornings? 

A moisturizing shower cream or oil is an excellent option as it eliminates the need to buy lotion or apply it after showering. It’s ideal if you have normal to oily skin and live in a humid area. 

As a 2-in-1 product, it cleanses and lightly hydrates your skin, but you may need additional moisturization if you have dry skin.

Look for a shower cream with a high ceramide and hyaluronic acid for optimal moisturization.

4. Butter

Butter is thicker and has higher moisturization levels than regular lotion. It makes a beautiful lotion substitute, especially if your skin is dry or you have eczema. 

With its small molecular size, butter can penetrate deep within the skin, providing intense moisturization and allowing the skin to benefit fully from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Examples of butter you can use in place of lotion include

Shea Butter on a Spoon With Writing

5. Homemade Moisturizer

You can make a homemade moisturizer to use in place of lotion by combining the following ingredients: 

  • ⅓ cup of aromatherapy oil (i.e. coconut, sweet almond, or grapeseed oil)
  • ⅓ cup of melted wax (candelilla or beeswax work well as moisturizing ingredients)
  • ⅓ cup of butter (examples include shea or cocoa butter)

Once the mixture has cooled down and hardened, you can begin using it. If you find the texture too hard, add a few extra drops of liquid oil. 

An advantage of creating your own moisturizer is that you can personalize it as much as you want. 

6. Toner

Toner is a watery skincare product that refreshes and balances skin. It also removes dead cells and residue on the skin’s surface. 

As the first product typically applied in a skincare routine, toner delivers fast and light hydration. Using a toner in place of lotion can help speed up your morning routine and eliminate the number of products you take with you when traveling.

Astringent toners usually contain alcohol and are drying, making them more suitable for oily skin as they help regulate oil production. However, if you want to use toner as a lotion substitute, it’s best to settle for a hydrating toner. 

Hydrating toners contain moisturizing ingredients like rose water, Vitamin E, and avocado oil. 

And although toner is designed for the face, it can be safely used all over the body. 

7. Oats and Water

Oats have natural moisturizing properties and make an excellent hydrator when mixed with a bit of water. 

To make a lotion substitute from oats and water, combine three tablespoons of dry oats with one cup of water in a container. 

After washing your hands, gently apply the oats and water mixture to the skin areas that need moisturizing. 

It’s not advisable to use flavored oats as they contain sugar, which can irritate the skin. 

What Is The Best Lotion Alternative? 

The best lotion alternative depends on your skin’s needs, budget, lifestyle, and products you currently have at home. Something to consider also is if you want a natural lotion alternative or if you’re happy with a synthetic one. 

Here is a table explaining the pros and cons of each lotion alternative so that you can make an informed decision: 

Lotion AlternativeProsCons
Natural HoneyNatural lotion substitute. Great for healing blemishes, stretch marks, and scars.Sticky Requires time for skin to absorb.
Aromatherapy OilsContain extra medicinal and herbal properties. A little goes a long way.Some oils are phototoxic. Costly.
Moisturizing Shower Cream or OilSaves time. Suitable for humid climates. Money saver.Not as moisturizing as regular lotion. Unsuitable for dry skin.
ButterHighly moisturizing. Excellent for dry skin.Can have a strong fragrance.
Homemade MoisturizerPersonalized and natural lotion alternative.Time-consuming to prepare. Can be expensive.
TonerSpeeds up self-care routine.Not a natural substitute. Not as hydrating as regular lotion.
Oats and WaterExcellent natural alternative.Can get messy.
A Bowl of Honey and Oats and Water Natural Skincare

Is Lotion Really Necessary?

Lotion is not really necessary, especially if you have oily skin or live in a humid area. Your skin’s top layer regenerates every two weeks, and the dry skin cells naturally fall away. If you have dry or combination skin, then your skin might feel dehydrated if you don’t use lotion. 

Using lotion regularly will increase your skin’s moisture barrier and strengthen its defense against environmental stressors (like pollution), regardless of your skin type. 

In addition to soothing and hydrating dry skin, regular use of lotion helps slow down the signs of premature aging. 

Can I Use Oil Instead of Lotion?

You can use oil instead of lotion, and because it sinks deeply into the skin, it provides additional moisturization and improves the skin’s barrier. This makes it an excellent product for dry skin. 

Oil is also great at regulating the skin’s sebum production as it mimics the skin’s lipids and helps prevent the overproduction of sebum. 

Can I Use Vaseline on My Face?

You can use Vaseline on your face as a long or short-term moisturizer. Although it has a thick consistency, it’s non-comedogenic and won’t clog your pores. It’s advisable to apply only a thin layer of Vaseline as it takes a long time to sink into the skin. 

Since the skin doesn’t readily absorb Vaseline, it may interfere with your makeup or get onto your clothes.

How Often Should I Moisturize My Skin?

You should moisturize your skin each time it’s exposed to water (e.g., directly after showering or swimming). Water and soap remove many of the skin’s natural oils, hence the need to moisturize to prevent dry skin.

For more, don’t miss 11 Effective Substitutes for Soap in the Shower (Or Bath).

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