Education, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

What’s the difference between Body Butter, Lotion and Cream?

One really is better than the other(s).

words by: Natasha Marsh
Dec 29, 2021

Do you know the difference between body butter, body lotion, and body cream? If you aren’t sure, you are probably where most people sit. Yes, all of them are formulated with ingredients to soften and moisturize skin, but are there any real differences?


By now, you probably know how important it is to keep your skin moisturized, especially in the winter. The fact is, hydrated skin yields to a healthy skin barrier — the very thing responsible for keeping your skin looking and feeling its best. Below, we break down the differences, along with tips on which to choose.


What is body butter?

Put simply, body butter has the thickest consistency of the three — getting its name for its resemblance to the butter you eat.


It’s strongly scented and is typically paired with a carrier oil (substance used to hold and deliver essential ingredients into the skin) but hardly ever contains water. Body butters are extracted from natural ingredients like palm, shea, cocoa, and mango to form a rigid texture. It has high absorbency and retains moisture by hydrating and nourishing the skin. You can use body butters all over your skin.


What is body cream?

Body creams are typically whipped and have a thinner consistency than body butters. They have the same ingredients as butters and water-based ingredients like aloe or hydrosol.


In body creams, you’ll see a lot of beeswax or xanthan gum added to make the texture thicker.


What is body lotion?

Lotions are even lighter than creams because they have more water in them. They are very light and often the easiest to apply. They don’t tend to stay on as long as a body cream or body butter and can be applied to arms, stomach, and thighs.


So what’s best for my skin?

The answer isn’t that simple and will depend on what you’re looking for. If your skin is on the dehydrated side, creams and lotions could be best because they have more water. Lotion also works well on oily skin.


It may seem counterintuitive to add moisturizer to oily skin, but the key to keeping oils at bay is maintained hydration. Body creams are best for drier skin as they are thicker and help reduce the loss of moisture.


Even if your skin doesn’t feel dry, it most likely is. It’s important to moisturize every single day (tedious, we know) to keep a healthy and hydrated skin barrier so it can work at it’s optimal level.


If you want the no-fuss version, reach for a lightweight body lotion that will help keep your skin balanced without feeling weighted down. In general, skin needs moisture, so if you are lacking that, opt for water-based formulations.

For more skincare tips, check out the difference between physical and chemical exfoliation for smooth skin and 5 fixes for chapped winter skin.


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