We have so much to thank our skin for — like how it protects us from external factors, helps regulate our body temperature and more. But over time, it’s natural for skin density and elasticity to decline depending on factors like age, gender, ethnic background, lifestyle and weight.
With that said, the ultimate solution to reversing loose skin or dimpling isn’t one-size-fits-all. But there are some ways to give your skin some TLC to keep it in as close to tip-top shape as can be. One of them? Using a firming lotion.
“It can soften crepey skin, improve texture and tone of the skin, and decrease hyperpigmentation and photodamage,” says Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, founder and lead facial plastic surgeon of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston and Palm Beach.
But first, keep this in mind
Before you start your search, it's important to note that results will vary from person to person. For example, someone with moderate skin aging may see more improvements than someone with a lot of loose skin after significant weight loss. Plus, different formulas are designed to target different skin types, areas and needs.
It's also crucial to keep in mind that there are other good habits you should be practicing in addition to using firming creams — and that none of the products we recommend are a guaranteed solution.
"It’s important to remember prevention with sunscreen and healthy eating to maintain your skin’s optimum health. None of these creams can replace a facelift or laser procedure," says Dr. Kami Parsa, a Beverly Hills oculoplastic surgeon.
But back to the topic of the countless skin-tightening products out there. Before you get overwhelmed, take a deep breath: We're here to help. Keep scrolling for a deep dive into all things firming lotions, or use the links below to jump to a topic.
What to look for | Best budget | Best drugstore | Best for face | Best for neck | Best for arms | Best for body | Best for tummy | Best for cellulite | Best for crepey skin | Best scented | Most hydrating | Best for night | Best splurge | How we chose | FAQs | Meet the experts
How to find the right firming body lotion or cream
To start, look for a firming lotion that doesn’t just hydrate the outer layer of the skin (epidermis), but also works to improve the thickness and quality of the deeper layer of the skin (dermis).
Good-quality firming creams are typically slow-working, explains Parsa. These products usually "have active ingredients to increase collagen and elastin production while hydrating the skin. These include peptides, vitamin A derivatives such as retinols, vitamin C and niacinamide," he adds.
There's a reason we emphasize "slow working." There's another class of firming products that contain the ingredient sodium silicate. They're designed to "work temporarily (few hours) and have zero long-term benefits," Parsa explains, adding, "In fact, long-term use may be harmful to skin."
It's also important to start using a firming cream early to help maintain firmness and reverse the signs of aging as soon as possible. DeRosa adds, “No matter when you start using a firming cream, you can expect to see smoother, firmer skin that has better tone.”
According to DeRosa and Los Angeles-based celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab, these are some of the key ingredients you should look for when shopping for a firming body lotion or other treatment:
- Peptides: These strengthen and create collagen.
- Retinol (and other vitamin A derivatives): Retinol is the gold standard ingredient that thickens the dermis and prevents thinning.
- Shiitake complex: These boost collagen synthesis and decrease its breakdown.
- Caffeine: This will increase blood flow and naturally tighten the skin.
- Acetyl tetrapeptide-2: This anti-aging bioactive peptide will support the production of new, healthy elastin.
- L-glutamine: This amino acid will help boost collagen synthesis.
Best budget firming creams
Key ingredient(s): Coenzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, lotus extract | Usage: 1-2 times a day | Best for: Tightening thighs, buttocks and stomach
“I love this cream because, not only is it affordable, but it works. One of the main ingredients is coenzyme Q10, which acts as a strong antioxidant that helps to neutralize harmful free radicals that cause signs of aging," says Elena Marotta, a skin care expert and the owner of BodyBrite Spa in Roslyn, New York.
"You will be pleasantly surprised at just how good it is at tightening skin and reducing the appearance of cellulite. I saw visible results within the first couple of weeks," she adds.
Key ingredient(s): Retinol, green tea | Usage: Once a day | Best for: Sensitive skin, face and body
Since we know retinol is a key ingredient to look for in a firming cream, we couldn’t not include this fitting find by Advanced Clinicals. In addition, this one is made with green tea, aloe vera and chamomile to fight visible signs of aging. Plus, it's fragrance-free for those who are sensitive, and the pump makes application a breeze.
A representative from Advanced Clinicals tells us that this product "uses a stable, proprietary form of retinol which enables us to use a very low percentage without causing irritation to the skin. It is ... designed for use on the entire body, so we use <0.1 percent. It is dermatologist-tested and clinically tested."
Amazon users can’t seem to get enough, with more than 49,000 verified reviewers rating it five stars. One noted, “I love this stuff! I’m on my second bottle, and I love that it’s not a greasy feeling. I feel like my skin is more firm from using this nightly.”
Best drugstore firming cream
Whether you're treating stretch marks after losing weight or pregnancy, Palmer's got you covered. This firming lotion is loaded with natural ingredients like raw shea butter and vitamin E to increase the production of collagen in your skin while reducing the appearance of skin imperfections.
No wonder there’s more than 14,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon. One of those reviewers noted, “Smells amazing, very hydrating. I've been using this lotion for a few months, and it is fabulous. I can see a drastic improvement in skin.”
Best firming products for the face
Key ingredient(s): Retinol, swertiamarin, hyaluronic acid | Usage: Every other night | Best for: Visibly tighter face and neck skin, minimizing horizontal neck lines
This cream was co-formulated with derms and plastic surgeons, and reviewers say it shows. Not only can it be used to firm up skin on the face, neck and jawline, but it may also visibly reduce those horizontal lines on the neck.
"I wasn’t too hopeful that this would work, but I think it really does! I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks but I see a difference in that thin, saggy skin under my chin. It’s not as saggy and has actually firmed up," shared one five-star RoC reviewer who identified herself as a "stressed mom and teacher."
Plus, according to a brand study, 97 percent of users had a visibly tightened face and neck, and almost half of them reported visibly diminished neck lines, all after one week.
Key ingredient(s): MATRIXYL 3000 Plus (collagen peptide technology), hyaluronic acid | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: Those who have sensitive skin
A light serum with major impact, this option from No7 boasts benefits like making your face and neck feel firmer and look visibly less crepey. It's made with complexes that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, calcium and hibiscus peptides.
One of the many glowing reviews on Ulta’s website notes, “I have tried a zillion things under the sun, and nothing helps the lines on my neck — EXCEPT THIS! I use this in the morning after I wash my face and before I put on makeup, and again at night before I go to bed. I'm not even done with my first tube and have noticed a huge improvement. I don't feel confined to turtlenecks anymore!”
Best neck and décolleté firming creams
Key ingredient(s): Peptide complex, Ceramides NP/AP/EOP | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: Firming neck and jawline, all skin types with creping
Specially created to tackle aging on the neck and décolleté area, this gentle cream uses a combination of peptides that tone the skin and ceramides that prevent moisture loss in those areas.
Plus, not only does it tackle fine lines on the neck and jaw, but it's also said to help reduce the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation.
One verified five-star reviewer on DRMTLGY's site noted, "Only using this for a week, and I can already see a reduction in the wrinkles on my neck. The cream is hydrating and has a very nice silky finish. It is not greasy, so blending makeup down my neck is easy. It's already in my cart for my next purchase!"
Key ingredient(s): Shiitake complex, L-Glutamine, genistein | Usage: Once a day | Best for: Normal and combo skin; tightening skin on face, neck and chest; horizontal neck lines
What makes this product different? “It targets the environmental stresses such as pollution that help to deplete the skin elasticity,” Ross explains. He adds, “It is high in collagen-synthesizing ingredients such as l-glutamine and genistein.”
Specifically, it’s designed for our modern world where “tech neck” is a real thing, helping to improve the appearance of horizontal neck lines and skin crepiness.
Key ingredient(s): 9% peptide blend, niacinamide | Usage: Once a day | Best for: Tech neck, aging skin
When it comes to the neck and décolleté area, you'll want something gentle enough so as not to irritate their sensitive skin, but strong enough to actually make a difference. That's where the Nécessaire's neck serum comes in: Its blend of five peptides helps boost collagen production, niacinamide supports the skin's barrier, and rosewater soothes the delicate skin in that area.
Based on the brand's four-week clinical study of 50-plus participants, 92 percent reported firmer neck skin, and 88 percent said horizontal neck lines were visibly improved. One verified Sephora purchaser noted, "I’m 34 and have known for a while I needed to incorporate a good neck cream into my regimen. I really appreciate that the [serum] has no fragrance as I am quite sensitive to perfumes. While I can’t say this was life-changing, I did notice my neck was brighter, firmer and more supple. Lightweight but adequate."
RUNNER-UP: We recommended SkinBetter's TechnoNeck Perfecting Dream in a previous version of this story, but at more than twice the cost of Nécessaire's serum, we're moving it to the Runner-Up spot.
Best firming lotions for the arms
Key ingredient(s): Red algae, kangaroo paw flower extract, Pink PepperSlim extract | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: Toning arms with a "bat wing" look
Body care brand Maëlys focuses on creating products to lift, firm and smooth bodies to help people feel good in the skin they’re in. This cream (infused with red algae, kangaroo paw flower and Pink PepperSlim extract) specifically targets sagging and loose underarm skin, giving it a tighter, sleeker appearance.
What's unique about this cream is the warming sensation you'll feel shortly after application, which is a sign of its fat-burning properties at work, according to Jessie Reder, the brand's Vice President of Product. She also tells Shop TODAY that patience and consistency are key: after about a month or so of use (a bottle and a half's worth), you'll likely see a decrease in circumference — yes, you can measure it!
In fact, there are dozens of reviews on Maëlys website with users showing off their toned arms (we encourage taking a look at the before-and-after photos). One reviewer said, “Have had this cream for a few weeks and can already tell the difference! Love how you can practically feel it working when you apply it. And it smells great too!”
Best firming body lotions
Key ingredient(s): Quinoa oil (Omegas 3, 6, and 9) | Usage: Daily, anytime | Best for: Skin tightening and brightening
Plant-based, Brazil-born body care brand Nativa SPA is all about quinoa, aka the “golden grain” that's rich in omegas and nutrients. Did you know that quinoa oil is 30 times more nourishing than coconut oil? And in this formulation, the brand says you'll also notice firmness, elasticity and radiance in your skin in under 30 days, according to a clinical study.
I’ve been using this cream for months (along with the brand’s Quinoa Firming Oil) and truly can’t get enough of the warm fragrance and luxe texture that’s not too light or heavy. One of many happy reviewers on the brand's site noted, “I have been using a gel firming and firming lotion combined to fight crepeness on my arms for years now; I saw a difference with Quinoa Lotion within days! I never write reviews but this is an exceptional product I will definitely keep using.”
Key ingredient(s): Caffeine, hyaluronic acid, vitamins C & E, ALGAKTIV™ UpLift | Usage: Once a day | Best for: Firming, brightening and deep hydration
While there isn't a firming lotion or cream that will "magically" firm and tighten sagging skin overnight, we can see why Charlotte Tilbury named this product Magic Body Cream.
The luxe, ultra-hydrating cream combines the energizing effects of caffeine with the lifting and the firming properties of ALGAKTIV™ UpLift, which is made up of plant-based polysaccharides that the brand says are clinically proven to help with anti-aging.
It's also got both soothing and moisturizing ingredients that you'll be familiar with, including glycerin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and rosehip oil. And having tried this product for ourselves, we can attest to how rich and instantly plumping the cream is on skin.
Best firming lotion for your tummy
Key ingredient(s): Caffeine, shiitake mushroom | Usage: Twice daily | Best for: Visible toning and tightening the stomach area, all skin types
Designed to tighten your core area, this hydrating formula contains caffeine and shiitake mushroom extract to stimulate your skin and restore elasticity and firmness.
This tummy-toning gel is also infused with menthol to give you an uplifting cooling sensation and stimulate your skin to help detoxify, tone and tighten it.
Best firming cream for cellulite
Key ingredient(s): Bermuda marine actives, murumuru seed butter, shea butter | Usage: Once every morning | Best for: Toning and muscle definition
Nature and science come together in this contouring cream that’s clinically proven to improve muscle definition, tone and firmness of the skin, according to the brand. What I love most about this cream is the rich, creamy texture that just melts into the skin. It’s filled with active marine ingredients from Bermuda and blended with murumuru seed butter and shea butter.
One user raved about it on the brand's website: “I’ve been using this daily, and I’ve seen great results in a few weeks! Firmer skin and less cellulite. ... Works great when you incorporate diet/exercise too!”
Best firming lotions for crepey skin
Key ingredient(s): Peptides, jojoba oil, malic acid, vitamin C | Usage: Once a day | Best for: All skin types, specifically those addressing "dark spots, discoloration, uneven skin tone and texture"
Combining nutrient-rich fatty acids, firming peptides and antioxidant-rich jojoba and botanicals, this vegan body moisturizer works to smooth your skin from head to toe.
Another perk? The vitamin C and malic acid in this rich formula helps brighten the appearance of skin.
Key ingredient(s): Proactive peptides, jojoba seed extract, turmeric root extract | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: Tightening skin and evening its tone
Specially made to improve the appearance of crepey skin, this transformative body cream from StriVectin is loaded with proactive peptides and nutrient-rich extracts to visibly tighten and brighten your appearance. In fact, according to an eight-week clinical evaluation of the product, 94 percent showed an improvement in crepey skin, according to the brand's website.
What’s inside? Jojoba seed extract (to firm and tone skin), turmeric root extract (to boost skin luminosity and even skin tone) and butter blend (to deeply moisturize skin).
Key ingredient(s): Caffeine, patent-pending iFirm™ Technology (peptides, antioxidants and botanicals), glucosamine | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: Improving appearance of crepey and sun-damaged skin, supporting skin's moisture barrier
This one comes with a higher price tag, but it’s also highly recommended by Ross.
“This is a peptide- and caffeine-heavy formulation that helps to lift as well as work on the crepey texture of the skin. It also supports the skin's microbiome, which will help prevent further loss of elasticity,” says Ross.
According to the brand's clinical study, more than 90 percent of participants reported improvements to both skin crepiness and elasticity. Check out the brand’s website for dramatic before and after photos of skin after 12 weeks of use.
Best scented firming cream that still works
Key ingredient(s): Caffeine (Guaraná extract), cupuaçu butter | Usage: Daily | Best for: Butt, legs, arms, tummy that needs toning and a glow
Sure, it's hard to resist Sol de Janeiro's delicious scents, but this body cream actually works! Guaraná extract gives your skin a caffeine boost and tightens its appearance over time, while cupuaçu butter's essential fatty acids deliver plenty of hydration quickly. If that's not enough to convince you of its effectiveness, just listen to the over 21,700 shoppers who gave it a perfect five-star rating on the brand's website.
One of them raved, “I’ve been using the Bum Bum Cream for a few months now, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. The scent lingers throughout the day, and I get compliments all the time. For the price it’s so worth it; do yourself a favor and buy it now!”
RUNNER UP: The brand's Beija Flor Elasti-Cream is a strong contender, too — it uses collagen, cacay oil (a retinol alternative) and squalane to help tone and plump skin. The fruity and floral fragrance is a bonus!
Best ultra-hydrating firming cream
Key ingredient(s): Aloe bioferment, HA complex, vitamins C and E | Usage: Twice a day| Best for: Dry, very dry and combination skin types; those looking for an oil-free option
This super hydrating (and oil-free!) gel-cream from Clinique boasts a soothing hydration that goes deep into the skin and locks it in for 100 hours. This long-lasting dewiness and plumpness is thanks to the formula's combination of Aloe bioferment and two molecular weights of hyaluronic acid.
The vitamins C and E, both antioxidants, support this deep hydration by helping make the skin more resilient against environmental dehydrators. In fact, the brand's clinical study of more 110 women had more than 95 percent of them saying their skin felt more resilient and deeply hydrated, and that it looked visibly plump, after just one week.
Best firming night cream
Key ingredient(s): Glutaline-In-Tense (patented blend powered by the Spilantes Acmella Flower), niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate | Usage: Once nightly | Best for: All skin types, dryness, firming and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles
Your skin won't mind working overtime when it comes to this night cream from First Aid Beauty. A brand study showed that 90 percent of users reported softer, smoother and more supple skin after four weeks of use. This is thanks to powerful ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, which boosts skin's natural moisture content and reduces fine lines, as well as niacinamide (which restores your skin's natural tone, texture and bounce).
Another key ingredient: super calming colloidal oatmeal to relieve dry or distressed skin.
Best splurge firming cream that's worth it
Key ingredient(s): Lipodrone, genistein | Usage: Twice a day | Best for: All skin types; reducing appearance of crepey skin, specifically on the hands, arms and knees
“This cream goes on silky smooth while firming up the skin and working to increase the production of healthy collagen,” DeRosa says.
She emphasizes its ingredients, including active peptides and dill extract (to helps boost elastin and collagen production and reduce the breakdown of existing collagen), linseed extract (to help visibly firm skin and reduce pigmentation) and key botanicals (to "support the production of hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans").
How we chose the best firming body lotions and creams
Shop TODAY enlisted the help of trusty skin care experts who shared their recommendations on products that work based on their experience. We also took their advice on which key ingredients to look for in firming body lotions, creams and other products and researched ones that fit the bill. We also included positive reviews from customers who have used them. In addition, we tested some of these products for ourselves for a first-person perspective on its effects.
FAQs on firming body lotions and creams, answered by experts
What’s the best way to apply firming body lotion?
“Firming lotions are best applied in circular massaging movements,” says Ross. “This really allows the product to stimulate blood flow to the surface of the skin to pull the active ingredients in and help them to do their best job,” he explains.
Are there factors to consider when choosing firming lotions?
In general, products geared toward firming a specific body part are mostly marketing since the skin on your tummy is no different than the skin on your back, for example, Ross explains. He adds, “The most important factor to consider is the overall ingredient formulation and active hero ingredients of the product that specifically target firming.”
Does putting firming lotion on my body help with cellulite?
First off, let’s talk about what cellulite is.
DeRosa notes, “Cellulite forms when fibrous bands that connect the skin to the fascia (a fibrous covering over muscles) pull down on the skin or start breaking down, allowing the fat underneath to be seen.” This is why with cellulite you see a "cottage cheese" appearance with an irregular, dimpled skin contour.
Since cellulite is not simply a skin problem, firming creams or lotions can work only to an extent, and further reduction in the appearance of cellulite requires more invasive treatments.
Since cellulite is not simply a skin problem, firming creams or lotions can work only to an extent, and further reduction in the appearance of cellulite requires more invasive treatments.
In response to the above question, DeRosa says that a firming lotion can indeed contribute to the appearance of less cellulite. “The reason is that it helps to improve the thickness and texture of the skin, usually by increasing the collagen in the skin,” she explains.
Is there anything else I can do to tighten my skin naturally?
There are several ways to improve skin firmness naturally, our experts say:
- Avoid foods that dehydrate. “At home, one can work to improve the skin's hydration by [avoiding] foods and drinks that tend to cause dehydration, including sodium and alcohol,” says DeRosa. “Strengthening the muscles underlying loose skin can help make the skin look tighter too," she adds.
- Eat healthy. Parsa agrees that diuretics like the above, as well as coffee, can lead to your skin aging faster. He also agrees that eating healthy is essential. "The mantra 'green vegetables can essentially cure everything' is true in the sense that green vegetables have tons of antioxidants [and] polyphenols micronutrients, which slow down the process of aging," Parsa says.
- Get enough sleep. Parsa also strongly encourages healthy sleep practices. "The process of sleeping is not only important for our body and mind to rest, but it is essential in getting rid of waste buildup and in the rehydration of facial tissue. It is recommended that everyone sleeps at least seven hours per night," Parsa says.
- Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Even if you historically haven't used sunblock, it's never too late to start, Parsa says. "Sun exposure not only can lead to skin cancer, but it can significantly accelerate the aging process. We recommend SPF of 25+ for everyone, every day, and make sure the product you use has both UV-A and UV-B protection," he urges.
- Try other at-home treatments. Parsa recommends a regimen that focuses on active ingredients that boost skin turnover. "I’m a fan of skin cycling, as skin turnover changes from every two to three weeks when you’re young, to every two to three months in your 50s. Organized skin cycling will allow this system to be boosted and more active, getting the skin to get rid of a lot of the buildup that causes dullness and other signs of aging," he explains. In addition, DeRosa mentions at-home treatments such as micro-needling or skin rollers that can help stimulate the production of new, healthy collagen in the skin.
What's a common skin concern you see in your practice that can be mitigated at home?
Clients often come in to see Parsa for skin issues like droopy eyelids. His advice: Avoid "soft mechanical trauma." These are "things like rubbing your eyes or pulling on your skin when applying makeup, as they can cause skin to lose elasticity," he says.
Meet our experts
- Dr. Arash Akhavan MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of The Dermatology and Laser Group in New York. He specializes in non-invasive and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures for the face, neck and body. He also tackles the detection and management of skin cancer and lesions.
- Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, MD, is a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and founder and lead facial plastic surgeon, of the DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston. She has several years of experience performing intricate facial surgeries and administering injectables.
- Elena Marotta is a skin care expert and the owner of BodyBrite Spa in Roslyn, New York.
- Dr. Kami Parsa, MD, is a Beverly Hills oculoplastic surgeon. He specializes in both surgical and non-surgical procedures that address skin concerns around the eyes, including droopy eyelids and under-eye bags.
- Joshua Ross is a celebrity aesthetician and the founder of SkinLab. He specializes in non-invasive treatments to maintain healthy skin and manage the signs of anti-aging. Ross has been working in the beauty industry for 15 years, working with clients like The Real Housewives.
- Dr. Sejal K. Shah, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York. She specializes in cosmetic dermatology and lasers, hair loss and ethnic skin.