Does this product exist?
May 28, 2015 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My husband hates the smell and feel of any lotion or other moisturizing product I use. I hate dry skin. Help?

He has a real aversion to goopy skincare products like lotion, sunscreen, and lip balm. He also has an excellent sense of smell while mine is not that strong. To me, using moisturizer feels like a mundane part of my day. To him, it's like I'm dousing myself in "get away from me."

Things I have used as body moisturizers:
Various drugstore-brand lotions - “lotion” smell even from fragrance-free versions, rubbery/sticky feel
Various oils (jojoba, pre-packaged mixtures like Aura Glow) - noticeable greasy feel
Shea butter - greasy/sticky feel

Things I have used as face moisturizers:
Various drugstore-brand lotions (Neutrogena, Cetaphil, CeraVe PM) - “lotion” smell, sticky feel
Various oils (jojoba, rosehip seed) - “weird” smell, greasy feel

I haven’t ventured into the world of high-end skincare products, but I’m willing to spend the money if it’s worth it.

I can often get around this conflict by using moisturizing products earlier in the evening rather than right before bed, but I’d love to have something I can use whenever I want. So I’m wondering if my miracle moisturizer product exists—something that really sinks in, doesn’t smell like anything, and just makes your skin feel a little less dry. Has anyone found something like that?
posted by Meg_Murry to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (60 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Are you at all concerned that your husband is being sooooooo ultra picky? If it is his hangup, maybe he should be assigned the task of finding a moisturizer he can tolerate the smell and feel of. Sounds like you've already done quite enough backflips trying to appease him.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:30 PM on May 28, 2015 [67 favorites]

I really like Aveeno. It's fragrance free and soaks in nicely and is inexpensive and available at most stores. It smells slightly like oats and such, but not strong at all. You can often find it in the travel size too so you don't end up with too much. I use their Daily Moisturizing kind.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I used Trader Joe's A Midsummer Night's Cream (which, weirdly, you can buy on Amazon if you don't have a TJ's nearby). I don't have the kind of sensitivity your husband does, but it claims to be unscented and seems unscented to me, and it's the perfect weight. I have tried to switch to other lotions but can't find anything else that's the right balance between not-too-heavy and not-too-light.
posted by something something at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2015

Best answer: If he hates the "lotion" smell, would he be happier with an actual fragrance smell? I recall vaguely some study being done that men are highly attracted to the fragrance of baked goods, and there are a number of lotions made to smell like, say, brown sugar or cookies.

Don't have much advice on the tactile issues. (I feel you, though--my SO also hates the smells of my various products. Unfortunately for him, my skin and hair are so reactive and touchy and allergy-prone that when I find something that doesn't give me hives, he just has to deal with it.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:33 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Complex 15 is odorless and a lovely facial moisturizer--expensive but not too high end.

CeraVe is also odorless and nongreasy, as far as I can tell. It's not as expensive, but again, more than most drugstore lotions. In our house, it's the cats who get annoyed by lotion odors and they ignore this one. oops, missed it in your question.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2015

OH, yeah, FWIW my SO uses the Aveeno daily moisturizing business on himself; it's one of the few he's into but sadly, my skin cannot even.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2015

I don't have a terribly sensitive nose but Cetaphil cream (the stuff in a tub) is fragrance free and smells as much like "nothing" as any lotion product I've ever used. And it works really great, especially on super-dry skin, and absorbs quickly.

Ugh, just saw that you've tried Cetaphil, sorry. The tub is definitely different from the lotion pump, if that's the only thing you've used.
posted by jabes at 12:35 PM on May 28, 2015

How do you feel about applying something right after you shower? If you apply it while damp, you should be able to use less than you might use on dry skin right before bed, and it'll "sink in" while you dry off, making the smell less noticeable. I like the Aveeno Creamy Moisturizing Oil (goes on like a lotion, has a faint sweet oats smell). I can also imagine the Neutrogena Body Oil (available in fragrance-free) working out well in this scenario.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:36 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also think you should have him pick out the products. If he's the picky one, you're just not going to be able to adequately judge.

I'm somewhat picky about smells. (Hate the lotion smell, but I like lavendar, for example.) I do not like how most lotions feel and in general, I hate oils unless I'm taking a shower right after. I like using Burt's Bees. I've also used certain Clinique and Kiehl's products without getting to grossed out by them. But again, I think this is something he'll just have to pick out, if he's that picky.
posted by ethidda at 12:36 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: mysterious_stranger - I appreciate your sentiment, but under the circumstances (he’s working full-time, I’m stuck at home recovering from an injury with nothing but time and the Internet) I don’t mind doing the search myself.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:38 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

I bought my boyfriend the two creams from Working Hands with success. The hand one can honestly be used on arms and wherever really, although it's pretty strong stuff.
posted by carmel at 12:39 PM on May 28, 2015

Best answer: La Roche Posay - entire range is scent-free once applied, they have lots of options, love it
posted by Sijeka at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I find that I notice the Aveeno smell much more than the Cetaphil smell, and the Neutrogena smell even more than that (and this was with the unscented versions of said brands), so I think it comes down to opinion. Nthing bringing home a bunch of options that will work for your needs and having him decide which is least offensive to his nose, though it might also be worth consulting a doctor.

Your question reminded me of this previous AskMe, where the super-smeller was asking for advice in reducing their sensitivity to scents.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2015

We use this as a massage oil. My dry skin seems to absorb it, yet it doesn't leave any oily residue.
posted by Elsie at 12:47 PM on May 28, 2015

If you haven't, you might try a cream meant for faces on your body instead - in my experience, they tend to be lighter and have less odor (they also tend to me more expensive and have SPF). I like the Cetaphil face moisturizer, personally.

It would also never occur to me to put on lotion before getting into bed - I think of it only as a morning ritual.
posted by vunder at 12:48 PM on May 28, 2015

I am female, but I'm your husband in this scenario. The only thing I've found that I can use is Trader Joe's lavender hand & body lotion. There's something about the texture and scent (both very light) that doesn't gross me out, as virtually all over lotions do. (Don't even get me started on Chapstik.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:51 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you ever tried one of those in-shower body lotions? I think that Dove and/or Neutrogena make them. You shower as usual and use the lotion like a conditioner for your body, rinsing it off before you get out of the shower.

Not sure what to suggest for your face, sorry.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:51 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm a dude that hates lotion-feel, and I'm 2nding La Roche Posay. I feel like a snail if I'm covered in moisturizing goop, but this stuff (which I actually found through a separate askme!) is fine after 5-10 minutes. The stuff is damn near miraculous in how fast it takes care of dry skin.
posted by bfranklin at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wonder if a DIY option would work for you here? He could be reacting to artificial smells, and if you went with some kind of all-natural option made of almond oil and beeswax, that could do the trick. If there is a smell he likes, you could also make your lotion be that scent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I bought my boyfriend the two creams from Working Hands with success.

Seconding Working Hands from the other side. My girlfriend got some for me knowing I don't like the feel and smell of most lotions (and so living with scratchy cracked hands) and it's been a game-changer. I have the hand cream, it doesn't smell like anything at all, and after about a minute of working it in you wouldn't know I'd even used any except for the moisturized softness of my skin.
posted by carsonb at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2015

fresh rice dry oil does the job for me and has a light but not conventionally oily or lotiony scent.
posted by amber_dale at 12:54 PM on May 28, 2015

Best answer: I am your husband (not actually). I have used everything under the sun and no, there is not a single one with a completely unnoticeable smell AND feel. Right now I'm using CVS "intense repairing lotion" because it has no weird feel at all, but it definitely has a smell. What you need to do is find a scented one with a scent your husband likes and go with that. The first one I was ever okay with was a vanilla cinnamon lotion - unfortunately a Greek brand that I picked up in a hotel in Athens so that's no help - but yeah, go in the direction of "actually deliberately has a scent" rather than "fragrance free" which never actually is.

The Trader Joe's ones are horrid and one of their lotions was the only thing I've ever had to actually throw away because it smelled so strong.
posted by capricorn at 12:55 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Clinique products are almost all fragrance-free and feel very pleasant on my skin. For daytime facial moisturizer, I lovelovelove Super City Block with SPF 40. It's worth each of the 23 dollars I pay for it every few months.
posted by witchen at 12:57 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you haven't tried Aveeno yet, that would be my next option in your shoes. The standard green cap daily lotion sinks in really well and doesn't leave a greasiness that I've noticed with literally every other lotion I've ever used. It has a very, very faint non-chemical smell of oatmeal.
posted by phunniemee at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2015

Also, if you need a sunscreen, I've recently discovered Biore Watery Essence. It is amazing. I think it's got something in it that's not FDA approved yet, so you can only get Japanese versions from resellers online, but oh man. It's the least greasy-making sunscreen I've ever used in my life and it's one of the few sunscreens I can use on my face without breaking out. It also doesn't have a strong sunscreen smell. Caveat: not waterproof, not sweatproof. It's definitely a dainty person sunblock.
posted by phunniemee at 1:03 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking as someone who is averse to almost all added scents and who doesn't like the feeling of greasy lotion skin, I would like to offer up the nth recommendation for Aveeno. Their regular lotion is almost totally scentless and absorbs into the skin quickly. It's the best I've ever found. If he can't tolerate that ... well, I think he'd better learn to tolerate that.

Try putting it on in a room separate from him, waiting 15 minutes, then proceeding as normal (without telling him you've moisturized). Dollars to donuts he won't even notice you've done it.
posted by komara at 1:03 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband is really picky about what he will use on himself, and the ones he likes are:

1. CVS's knockoff of CeraVe moisturizing lotion, which does have a very faint basic vanilla (like extract, not like cake) scent. I find this one to absorb quickly but still provide sufficient moisture.

2. The much more vanilla-y Suave with cocoa butter lotion or store brand of same.

3. The Aveeno, but not store knockoffs of it.

Unscented lotions (which I told him and he didn't believe me) smell like the chemicals they're made from. The CVS knockoff of the Aveeno is one that I find especially stinky, I think the actual brand version is more oatmeal-y smelling. Their facial moisturizer is about the same.

But also since this is your body, you can do your best to not get something too lingering-scented and he can just skip smelling or rubbing you for 20 minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:09 PM on May 28, 2015

Here's a lotion-to-powder product that's fragrance-free and for sensitive skin. It's for babies, but no reason it couldn't work for adults!
posted by augustimagination at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2015

Eucerin is fragrance free, highly effective ... and rather expensive.
posted by oddovid at 1:35 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I love the Kiehl's products for scentless, nongreasy moisture. Two in particular: For body, the Creme de Corps line, and for hands and feet, I use their "ultimate" treatment.

For facial moisturizers, I strongly prefer the DHC CoQ10 line for daytime and the Extra Nighttime Moisture for night, neither of which have any discernible scent and both of which are quickly absorbed.
posted by janey47 at 1:39 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have mild asthma and allergies and cannot really handle scented products. My wife is very accommodating - she makes her own moisturizer and skin care products (we have a big tub of caustic soda lying around just for that very thing!)

I use olive oil as a moisturizer, as well as Aveeno. Both of these products also work well with our younger son who has mild but wide-ranging eczema.
posted by Nevin at 2:08 PM on May 28, 2015

Seconding Kiehl's, but also Clinique, Biotherm and La Roche Posay. It seems from your description that the problem is really absorption, rather than smell ("stickiness", "greasy feel"). "Lotion smell" might be solved with slightly more high-end brands.
I live with teenagers, so my bathroom looks like a department store. I tested a Biotherm lotion for your benefit, and all texture disappeared within less than a minute. Now, about five minutes later, there is still a citrus smell. Maybe you can get samples to test how he experiences different fragrances? I like Kiehl's the best, but it is stickier the first 10 mins than Biotherm, and maybe also more lotion-smelly. On the other hand, the smell disappears more rapidly.
Back when I didn't know how to control my allergies, I also used olive oil, but that is complicated. 100% organic, edible and parabene free, though.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 PM on May 28, 2015

I'm a guy, I have some pretty sensitive skin and I don't like fragrances. My solution has been a light coating of mineral oil (usually sold as a laxative, I think?) rubbed into my face immediately after getting out of the shower. It's cheap, odorless, colorless and has well-defined ingredients. It's also greasy, of course, but I find that applying it to damp skin lets you use such a small amount that you don't really notice (vs. applying to dry, irritated skin where you definitely do).
posted by indubitable at 2:25 PM on May 28, 2015

I feel like the Oil of Olay standard sensitive moisturizing lotion might work. It is not a heavy moisturizer but it works and is quite scent-free. I can't even imagine someone noticing I was wearing moisturizer after putting it on, although of course I'm not your husband.

Barring that, you might try this from Paula's Choice which isn't a lotion but more of a gel.
posted by ch1x0r at 2:41 PM on May 28, 2015

Another vote for Aveeno. Feels like nothing and smells like nothing after 5 minutes on.

In my case I'm the one who hates smelly sticky moisturizers.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:06 PM on May 28, 2015

My husband is also extremely sensitive to smells and sticky/greasy/"lotion-y" lotions. He loves Curel honey, vanilla, and shea butter lotion. It really does sink in quickly and the scent is nonoffensive. I can't ever find it in stores so I have to order it online, and it's worth the extra shipping cost.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:29 PM on May 28, 2015

i use gold bond ultimate healing. it sinks in quickly, moisturizes nicely, and has little smell that i can discern. i have pretty dry skin, and this works well. they have smaller containers in walgreens and other drug stores, if you don't want to sink the $10.
posted by koroshiya at 3:39 PM on May 28, 2015

This cococare lotion is definitely non- greasy and very lightly scented.
posted by chiquitita at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2015

Coconut oil! Or, add an essential oil (pre-approved by your husband) to a good cream like Cetaphil
posted by leslievictoria at 5:21 PM on May 28, 2015

I'm a lotion junkie. Right now I have sandalwood oil, a clove-scented lotion, coconut oil, CeraVe, Ahava, Nivea, and a coffee butter in rotation so I'm not bothered by fragrance! but one scent I can not abide is Aveeno. The facial moisturizer I bought smelled like plastic. After returning it, the company sent me some coupons so I tried the body lotion. Yep, still plastic.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:42 PM on May 28, 2015

Take A Deep Breath by Philosophy has the nicest way of absorbing with no residue. It's great. It smells like sunscreen a bit but it goes away quickly so he may tolerate it anyway.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:47 PM on May 28, 2015

I also find Aveeno to be smelly. It's worth a try though.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:49 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you tried moisturizing body washes? I'm assuming he has no problem with soaps etcc. My husband hates lotion but will gladly slather himself in baby oil or Aveeno shower oil while in the shower.
posted by wwax at 5:56 PM on May 28, 2015

I'm very dry, and very very sensitive. I understand about "lotion-y" feel, though I don't mind it too much. I use, face and body, Epionce Medical Barrier Cream. It does have a light smell, but not any added fragrance and it is gone by the time the lotion is absorbed. Because unlike any other stuff strong enough to moisturize my skin, it does absorb. Takes maybe 15 minutes if the weather is humid. It doesn't get slimy again when it gets wet or you sweat, like CeraVe does.

The 8 oz sizes lasts me about 9 months, using mostly for face.
posted by monopas at 5:58 PM on May 28, 2015

I swear by Naturally Nancy's Protective Cream. It works better than anything else I've tried at keeping my hands from turning into itchy lizard skin. It's made of beeswax, mineral oil and a little bit of borax. It's unscented, but (presumably because of the beeswax) it smells very faintly of butter and honey. I order it online from Halifax Seed.
posted by fullerenedream at 5:58 PM on May 28, 2015

I find almost all hand creams smell terrible, so I think the chances your husband will tolerate the very mild smell of Naturally Nancy's are pretty good.
posted by fullerenedream at 6:04 PM on May 28, 2015

I use this. It has no discernible smell, and it's not sticky or greasy. I'm like your husband and dislike various lotions for the same reasons he does.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:18 PM on May 28, 2015

Aveda Hydrating Formula (without the "personal blend" scent added). Completely odorless, non-greasy, works on all body parts, and absorbs instantly. Warning: it's on the pricier side ($20 or so?) and I think you can only get it at Aveda stores, but you will never go back.
posted by jason and the garlic knots at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2015

Coming to nth Clinique products - specifically, Clinique's Moisture Surge gel, not lotion. My mother has worked for various cosmetic companies and this is the one product I've stuck with. It is totally odorless, not at all sticky, and incredibly hydrating (particularly when applied on a slightly moist, post-washed face).
posted by thebots at 8:08 PM on May 28, 2015

I hate scented products too! I really like Canus Natural goat milk lotion in unscented flavor. It feels more watery than oily on my skin, and it absorbs quickly. And it's truly unscented (at least as far as I can tell).
posted by librarina at 8:42 PM on May 28, 2015

Cornhuskers lotion has a different feel than other moisturizers and absorbs very quickly. It does have a faint smell, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:23 PM on May 28, 2015

There is nothing grosser than being touched by someone with greasy, lotiony hands, so I feel your husband's pain. My partner uses the Aveena stuff and a few minutes later there is no sliminess remaining. (I can't smell it but I don't have the most sensitive nose, either.) She also has some Lush product that is inoffensive, but with a more noticeable smell.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:25 PM on May 28, 2015

I'm very fond of the unscented Naked Bee for my hands and body. It absorbs quickly but not so quickly that I don't feel like I've put on any lotion (I find that a lot of cheap lotions get kind of "sucked up" by my hands and actually leave them feeling dryer than before - this one doesn't have that problem), with no greasy feeling left behind, and I can't smell it at all unless I put my nose up to my hands and really sniff hard. Even then, it doesn't smell artificial or lotiony.
posted by town of cats at 11:28 PM on May 28, 2015

I've tried quite a few unscented facial lotions, and Nivea Essentials Sensitive Day Cream is probably the most unscented. I really can't discern any smell when I put it on. And it absorbs very quickly.
posted by neushoorn at 4:15 AM on May 29, 2015

If you have the budget, try products by from nature with love

From memory, the shealoe has very little scent. You can try the six butter sampler.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:52 AM on May 29, 2015

Best answer: Weird suggestion to deal with the smell issue:
Get your *husband* to wear the lotion. Just for a couple of days.

The first 5 minutes he will really notice the smell, but after that, it should fade right off. Not really 'noticing' a smell after being exposed to it for awhile is called olfactory fatigue. That makes it bearable after about 10 minutes, and then wearing it for a couple of days should acclimatize him to the smell enough that even when he stops wearing it, it should bother him less when he comes and hugs you etc.
posted by Elysum at 8:29 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you tried generic sorbolene or aqueous creams? They usually don't have a powerful smell at all and in the case of aqueous cream you can use it as a cleanser and a moisturiser.
posted by h00py at 9:26 AM on May 29, 2015

L'Occitane has some lotions that feel good on the hands and don't smell like traditional lotions. I've found them at a hardware store, of all places.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:47 AM on May 30, 2015

Response by poster: A brief update: I'm not marking any favorites just yet because I'm testing out a bunch of suggestions. Thanks!
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:57 PM on May 30, 2015

Response by poster: OK, the verdict so far: La Roche Posay is my new go-to facial moisturizer for mornings. Kiehl's Creme de Corps got the disappear-into-skin texture right but had too strong a chemical scent for my husband, so I'm going to test the scented versions.

The suggestion to use scented products rather than unscented was excellent: Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Butter doesn't have a chemical smell and is moisturizing enough for me to use alone at night, and the light herbal scent doesn't bother my husband. Fresh brand Hesperides body lotion (a grapefruit scent that fades to quickly to a light citrusy perfume) has also been deemed acceptable. Also, the suggestion to have him use the lotion to acclimate to the scent was genius!
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:06 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

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