Lotions, Butters, & Creams? Oh My – Which Ones to Use When and Why

Maybe you’re not sure which one to use with your skin type. And with so many new trends and DIY recipes and products available, it can get quite confusing. Let’s look at the differences between body butters, body lotions and body creams. Let's help you understand which one you should choose.

Which One Do You Need?

Cream products are thinner than body butters and are typically whipped. Creams usually contain the same basic ingredients as butters, plus water-based ingredients, perhaps even including aloe, hydrosol or a herbal infusion. Sometimes manufacturers add a wax such as beeswax as well as some type of mild thickener like xanthan gum or an emulsifier like borax. A cream may have butters or solid fats in it, but not necessarily.

Lotion is lighter than body butter and thinner than creams. It has a non-greasy feel to it that absorbs quickly into the skin. It’s an emulsion blend of water and oils both, making it great for those with not so dry skin.

You want to reach for the body butter when you need some more intensive moisturizing. The thickest of the three is body butter, which has a consistency similar to the butter we eat. It has the strongest scent and lasts longer than both lotion and crème. It typically takes longer to sink into the skin and can leave a greasy feel if it’s over applied. Because it’s a heavier product, you don’t need as much. 

The ingredients like beeswax and cocoa butter help to form a protective barrier on your skin. This is especially helpful during dry or cold weather since skin is more prone to chapping. Butters can be pore clogging, which is why you really do not want to use a body butter on your face.

Although body butter does have a longer shelf life than lotion, adding some vitamin E oil helps to prevent the oils from oxidizing and going rancid. Vitamin E is also great for keeping skin young and healthy looking, while also fighting wrinkles.

Whatever Works Best for Your Skin!

If your skin is really dehydrated, creams and lotions contain more water, and they may work much better for your skin type. As a rule of thumb, lotions usually work well on oily skin and creams on drier skin.

Body butters are thicker and so they may stay on top of your skin longer which can help reduce loss of moisture but won’t directly moisturize. In this case it’s best to apply the body butter to pre-dampened skin, when you first get out of the shower or bath tub.

Oils and butters will lubricate and soften the skin, helping to prevent further loss of moisture by creating a barrier and keeping your skin hydrated.

Of course, each formulation contains unique scents and additional vitamins and minerals with benefits that can address any of your additional concerns.


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