As a staunch supporter of the before-bed shower—blame it on my (unpopular) preference for an evening workout—I’m frequently in search of anything that will speed up my lengthy nighttime routine. For years, I didn’t go near a body moisturizer because the thought of applying it on my legs ahead of crawling into bed was seriously unappealing. Luckily, there’s now a full slate of fast-drying body lotions, gels, and oils that absorb seamlessly, so, if you're like me, you can slather, then slip into bed in a matter of seconds. Or put on pants. Or just go on about your life without feeling gooey—which is an especially welcome thing in the summer.
“When the weather gets warmer and more humid, your skin adapts to the changing environment by increasing the production of oil,” says Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology. He suggests switching up your moisturizer in tandem with that change: “Do away with thicker creams that take a long time to dry as they can mix with sweat and oil on the skin, which is a recipe for a breakout.”
"Hyaluronic acid is a great choice for summer because it’ll act as a humectant, grabbing humidity from the air and drawing it into your skin." —Corey L. Hartman, MD
In particular, opt for a lighter weight gel or lotion formula. For starters, it’s tough to go wrong with any body product featuring the gold-star of skin hydration, hyaluronic acid. “It’s a great choice for summer because it’ll act as a humectant, grabbing humidity from the air and drawing it into your skin,” he says. You’ll often find hyaluronic acid in gel and lotion formulations, both of which do well in cold temperatures, adds Dr. Hartman, so you can even store them in the fridge for an ultra-cool application that hits just right before bed.
Beyond HA, however, there are several other kinds of body hydrators that'll soak into skin quickly, from squalane-based sprays to vitamin-E infused lotions, certain oils, and body serums. Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite fast-drying moisturizers for allover hydration without the stickiness.
Shop the best fast-drying body lotions, gels, and oils:
A longtime all-star in the hyaluronic game, this Neutrogena gem has the easy slip of a gel and the big hydration benefits of a cream. The low molecular weight of the hyaluronic acid it includes (technically called sodium hyaluronate) allows it to soak right into skin, and glycerin seals the moisture deal. Not to mention, the formula is ultra-light, non-greasy, and feels subtly cool to the touch.
Talk about efficiency: You can mist this stellar hydrating spray all over your body in no time—a post-shower dream—hitting all those difficult-to-reach spots, like your back and the backs of your legs, with ease. The real kicker is that you don’t even have to rub it in for it to dry quickly. It’s loaded with squalane, which hydrates without the heft of heavier ingredients, and contains white willow bark extract, a gentle exfoliator to help break down any rough patches.
This CeraVe lotion is a classic and a derm favorite (Dr. Hartman, included) for a reason: It’s loaded with ceramides (the natural building blocks of the skin’s moisture barrier) as well as hyaluronic acid, but it’s also hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free—making it a foolproof pick across the board for lightweight summer hydration. It’s also a particularly safe choice for anyone who swings toward having oily skin, since it’s entirely oil-free.
Oil and butter may not be the first things that come to mind when you think fast-drying body lotion, but this whipped formulation somehow manages to suspend all that hydration goodness in a surprisingly lightweight cream that skin just laps right up. If you’re on the oily side, proceed with caution (it does contain coconut oil, which is comedogenic), but if you’re drier, this is your product: It packs glycerin, mango butter, and seven nourishing oils that quench thirsty skin.
If you’re looking to hydrate in just a few dry regions rather than slathering something over your whole body or you’d rather avoid getting your hands oily, tap this roller-ball body CBD oil from Lord Jones. While it is an oil (a blend of avocado, jojoba, and safflower), it also soaks into skin quickly with the targeted application of the roller-ball only helping that process along. Not to mention, even those with oily or combination skin can generally tolerate it, as its primary ingredient is CBD (each bottle contains 100 mg).
Considering it’s an oil, you might be surprised to learn that this seaweed-infused Osea product’s top-lauded quality among reviewers is its quick absorption and non-greasiness. Its star ingredient, hand-harvested Undaria algae, is packed with antioxidants that can help reduce redness and pigmentation in addition to softening and hydrating skin. A variety of other oils, from acai berry oil to passionfruit seed oil, carry its benefits deep into skin.
This body lotion was Dr. Jart’s first-ever body-care launch late last year, and it’s since taken its rightful spot alongside the Ceramidin face crew, delivering a healthy dose of five key ceramides (aka natural lipids) to reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier. Thanks to five different sizes of hyaluronic acid, too, the lotion is also able to quickly seep into the skin, and help prevent water loss.
I’d be remiss not to include at least one in-shower product in a roundup stemming from my desire to hydrate and hit the hay as quickly as possible. This Curél moisturizer’s glycerin- and ceramide-rich formula is activated by the water on your skin immediately post-shower, so you can apply it while damp (when your pores are most open, thanks to the warm water). It’ll absorb quickly, and then you can towel-dry as normal without any need to wait or rinse.
Feed two birds with one scone, using this shave oil. Like the Curél one above, you apply it in the shower pre-shave, and it cushions your razor against your skin. Because oil and water retract each other, however, you’ll notice that when you get out of the shower, your legs still have a silky finish—minus the oiliness you might otherwise feel with a body oil.
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