People can experience dry skin all over, but some parts of our bodies are more prone to dryness and are far harder to treat — elbows being one of the trickiest spots. That's because, similar to our heels, the skin on our elbows is quite thick and secretes less oil than the skin on most other parts of our bodies. The solution? Moisturizing regularly with one of the best lotions for dry elbows, six of which are featured ahead. Typically in the form of rich creams or thick ointments and salves, these heavy-duty moisturizers are made with moisture-attracting humectants and skin-softening emollients, while some contain gentle exfoliators, too.
Use these moisturizers faithfully every day, especially right after showering and again at bedtime for best results. But there are other ways to get rid of elbow dryness, too. Making certain lifestyle changes can help, like taking tepid (instead of hot) showers and baths, drinking plenty of water, and keeping an eye on things like friction against your skin and the level of humidity in your home (during winter especially, you may want to run a humidifier to restore moisture to the air). Wear soft clothing, and if you're going to rest your elbows for long periods of time on hard surfaces like a desk, think about using a cushion to protect your skin. Finally, while gentle exfoliating is good, avoid using harsh scrubs and overly drying soaps, which can irritate skin further.
With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best products for dry elbows, from cult-favorite creams from Germany and Japan to classic, drugstore salves and more.
1. The Exfoliating Body Cream
AmLactin's Ultra Smoothing Body Cream contains lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant that helps slough away dead skin to leave elbows (and anywhere else you apply this lotion) smooth, bump-free, and soft. In addition to lactic acid, the rich, fragrance-free formula contains ingredients like glycerin and petrolatum to attract and lock in moisture. This is also a great lotion to use if you have keratosis pilaris or bumpy skin on your legs and arms.
Relevant review: "I LOVE this product! The second I get bumps on my arms or elbows, I use this and literally wake up the next morning smooth. It’s a life saver. Don’t have to ever waste time making a dermatologist appt!"
2. The Skin-Strengthening Lotion
Probably the lightest-weight lotion featured here, Eucerin Advanced Repair contains that key ingredient, urea, which has moisturizing and exfoliating properties. Urea is also a keratolytic — aka, it helps remove and soften dry, dead skin — and since it's listed third on the INCI list, you know you're getting a good concentration of the stuff in here. Other key ingredients in this formula include exfoliating lactic acid, moisturizing shea butter, and skin-strengthening ceramides. Also, with its under-$10 price tag, this is a great value for a nearly 17-ounce bottle.
Relevant review: "Fragrance free, super moisturizing, a little goes a long way! Love Eucerin. I use the very lightweight formula for my face and this richer formula for my super dry hands and elbows and feet. Works phenomenally. Amazon shipped it very well packaged."
3. The Heavy-Duty Ointment
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Aquaphor is probably the thickest, richest option on this list. It's such a heavy-duty ointment that even the most stubborn patches of dry skin are no match for it. Since it's a bit greasy, though, due to the 41% petrolatum formula, this makes for the perfect bedtime treatment. Here's a tip: Rub it onto your elbows and then pull on a pair of cotton socks (cut off at the toe), and wake up with smooth, baby-soft skin. You can use this just about anywhere, including on your lips — but don't put it on your face.
Relevant review: "Miracle lotion. Within two days my normally dry, scaly elbows were as smooth as silk."
4. The Cult-Favorite Multitasker
A favorite among beauty editors, celebrities, and just about every skin care obsessive out there, Weleda Skin Food is a multitasking moisturizer that belongs in every bathroom cabinet. This is another rich, heavy option, but unlike greasy Aquaphor, you can totally put this on your face (and lips, and anywhere else). But it works miracles on dry elbows, with its thick, all-natural formula that's made primarily from botanically derived ingredients like sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil, and rosemary. If you're sensitive to essential oils, however, this won't be the best choice for you.
Relevant review: "I had tried everything for my dry elbows, but nothing helped. I finally ordered this. My elbow skin went from dry, bloody mush back to almost normal in less than a week."
5. The Travel-Friendly Salve
Burt's Bees classic salve was created for anyone dealing with dry, cracked, itchy hands and it's also an excellent product for equally stubborn dry spots on your heels, knees, and elbows. Since it comes in a compact tin, it's a great choice for keeping in your bag for on-the-go moisturizing. That said, similar to Skin Food, it does contain essential oils, so steer clear if you have a known allergy to those.
Relevant review: "WOW! If you have dry cracked skin anywhere on your body, this stuff will fix it! I mainly use it on my elbows and heels as my skin gets VERY dry and cracked to the point that it snags on the sheets. But I throw on a little Burt's Bees Hand Salve, and those areas are suddenly baby bottom smooth! It does have a fairly strong eucalyptus scent, which I happen to love, but if you are sensitive to odors or are not a fan of eucalyptus, this might not be the product for you."
6. The Japanese Beauty Secret
Think of this as the Japanese equivalent of Skin Food: It's a rich, herbal-scented cream that can be applied just about anywhere in need of serious moisture, like your elbows and heels. Despite its rich consistency, it's not overly greasy, and can also be used to help heal things like burns, rashes, and minor wounds.
Relevant review: "I have tried almost every moisture cream out there for my dry elbows. So far, this one is the best. [...] And I like that I can use it on my lips as well. Great all around cream for the dry season."