Can you use baby lotion as a moisturizer? We put this popular trend to the test and asked derms if they recommends this hack.
A few weeks ago, while watching the Korean show Knowing Brother (아는형님), I unexpectedly came across a skin care tip that I hadn’t heard before. Kang Sung-hoon, a member of first generation k-pop group Sechskies, revealed that in order to keep his skin looking soft and young, he uses baby lotion.
And he claimed that he wasn’t the only Korean pop star to do so. Kang, at 37, doesn’t look too much older than when he debuted twenty years ago, so I got curious and began digging on the internet. It turns out a lot of people swear by using baby lotion as a part of their routine to get skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. So I decided to try it out.
As someone in my early 20s and without children, I didn’t actually realize there were so many baby lotions on the market. I did a little bit of research before stopping by my local drugstore. I asked Vivian Bucay, dermatologist at the Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics, and Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, to give me a quick run down on what makes a baby lotion different from your everyday moisturizer.
Zeichner says: “Every formulation is different, but generally speaking, baby lotions tend to be ultra gentle and fragrance free. Even though they are labeled as specifically to be used in babies, there is no reason that they cannot be used in adults.”
“Baby’s skin tends to dry out quickly during the first few weeks of life and it’s necessary to keep their skin moisturized,” Dr. Bucay adds. “On the other hand, baby’s who are nursing can develop ‘acne’ from their mom’s hormones in breast milk, and it’s important to avoid applying products that can aggravate it.”
Most baby lotions though, surprisingly enough, aren’t non-comedogenic, meaning that they contain ingredients that are known to clog pores. So even though acne isn’t one of my main skin concerns, I didn’t want to take any chances. Eventually I settled on the Aveeno Baby Daily Gentle Moisturizer to swap out with my absolute favorite moisturizer, the Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream.
Bucay notes that adults with sensitive skin are often recommended to use baby lotion. “Baby lotions often contain fragrances (after all, who doesn’t love that baby smell), but it’s important to keep in mind that fragrances are typically the most common cause of allergic reaction to skin care products,” she says. “That means that not all baby lotions are suitable for sensitive skin.” She further went on to say that she would “recommend baby lotion products to patients with sensitive skin—meaning those products that are fragrance free and are labelled hypoallergenic or that treat a specific skin problem, such as eczema.” Zeichner reiterates Bucay’s point, stating, “unlike some other creams that may have fragrances or irritating exfoliating ingredients, baby lotions tend to be bland and great for people with eczema.”
In order to give some merit to this experiment, I kept my entire routine the same except for subbing out my trusty Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream for the Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion. For my double cleanse I use the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Classic and the Neogen Cereal Real Fresh Foam Cleanser. Every other day or every two days, I’ll use the Skinfood Black Sugar Scrub. I follow that up usually with the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner or the COSRX AhA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner and then the Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum with Green Tea, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid, and the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator. Twice per week, I’ll sub out my evening moisturizer for Lioele V-Line Sleeping Pack.
I went into this not expecting very much. My skin is normal. It gets a little dry in the winter, but nothing too too crazy that I adjust my routine to compensate. I get some acne and am prone to hormonal acne along my chin once a month, but in general, I don’t need or use products to combat serious acne. My main skin concerns are hyperpigmentation and some closed comedones on my forehead and cheeks, which I was pretty sure a moisturizer wasn’t going to target anyway.
At first glance, the baby lotion is everything that it advertises itself to be. It’s a little thick like a face cream, but doesn’t feel super greasy on the skin. I tend to prefer gel creams because they feel lighter on my skin, but this didn’t take too much longer to absorb into my skin than my normal moisturizer. All in all, my first impression of the product was pretty neutral. I didn’t have any thoughts of it being stellar, but it wasn’t awful.
How It Went
As I said, I didn’t think that anything would come of this experiment. And after the first week, I still had the same impression. I had encountered a small pimple, but I was pretty sure it was unrelated to the moisturizer. Then, as the second week began, I noticed that my skin had become super dry to the point where it felt uncomfortable and flaky.
When I looked in the mirror, and as you can see above (excuse my face, it was very early in the morning), my skin looked normal, nothing out of the ordinary, but I could feel dry patches on my cheeks and especially on the skin around my mouth. I ended up switching out my normal chapstick for Vaseline for my lips just to compensate. Right after moisturizing my skin would feel okay, but as the day went on, the dry patches would become uncomfortable.
I’m not someone, who even in the chilly and windy Northeast winter, has to reapply moisturizer, but I found myself dipping into the office supply of face mists, wearing face masks or a scarf to cover my face, and breaking out my trusty humidifier to combat the extreme dryness. On nights when I would switch out for my sleeping pack or use an extra face mask, the dryness became more bearable, but didn’t go away.
By the end of the two weeks, I was itching (literally and figuratively) to get back to my trusty snail cream.
The Bottom Line
It’s been about half a week since I stopped using the baby lotion and my skin has been restored to hydrated and soft now that I’ve switched back to my usual moisturizer. All in all, it wasn’t the worst experience, but it definitely wasn’t the best. I’ll probably continue to use the baby lotion on my body, just not on my face. If you do have sensitive skin, I can see why using baby lotion would be appealing to you, but for someone with dry skin and who’s used to using products that are super hydrating, it just didn’t cut it for me.