There are several different kinds of skin-firming lotions that may give the skin a more taut appearance, such as lotions containing caffeine, copper or peptides. Peptides are amino acids considered responsible for producing collagen, the protein in skin that creates firm connective tissue and lessens with age. These ingredients can be found in anti-aging creams for the face to give the appearance of firmer facial contours or in skin-firming lotions for the body, such as anti-cellulite lotion used to combat the appearance of slack and dimpled skin. There are also lotions to tone the skin on the stomach after pregnancy or the neck, which is prone to slacken with age or weight fluctuation.
The molecules in most skin-firming lotions are not small enough to pass through the dermis, or skin layers, to affect change in the underlying muscular structure that can slacken with age or lack of exercise. What they are able to do is provide a temporary tightening, which gives the skin a look of increased firmness. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it is able to extract water from human tissue. Most lotions intended to firm skin on the body will contain caffeine, which when applied topically, provides a tighter appearance, because the skin will contain less water.
Other skin-firming lotions for the body may contain herbs known for their diuretic properties, like fennel or olive leaf. These ingredients also have astringent properties, which can make the skin feel tighter. Seaweed extract is another ingredient commonly used to combat the appearance of cellulite on the stomach and thighs. It is known as both an astringent and a diuretic, making it a popular choice for those looking for natural ingredients in their lotions.
Most lotions used to tone the skin also work as moisturizers. Dry skin may often look more loose than it really is because it can have lines and wrinkles. Inactive ingredients in skin-firming lotions, meaning the ingredients not included to specifically firm the skin, may still work to promote a smoother and younger appearance. Such ingredients may include cocoa butter, petrolatum or plant oils such as jojoba or sesame.
Some skin care experts recommend dry brushing, an exfoliation process of gently applying a body brush to dry skin, to exfoliate and increase any lotion's absorption rate. Others recommend applying a skin-firming lotion for the body with vigorous massage strokes. A facial skin-firming lotion should always be applied with gentle motions, especially to the delicate skin under the eyes.