Body Butter Vs. Body Lotion: What's The Real Difference?

While your face might get most of the princess treatment, moisturizing the skin below your neck is a crucial part of any routine. Aside from helping your skin attract moisture and stay plump, Oz Naturals notes that using moisturizer on the rest of your body helps prevent infections that could get in through your skin when it is dry and broken. There are many reasons to moisturize, and many options you can choose from to hydrate with too. Among these options are body lotions and body butters, each often designed around the skin types that they work best on and the weather or seasons they're best used in.


According to Jergens, body butter is a thick-textured, deeply hydrating cream, usually made from oils like coconut oil or butters like cocoa butter or shea butter. On the other hand, Whish describes body lotion as a lightweight moisturizer formulated chiefly with water and a smidge of oil. While both products are excellent at providing the skin with moisture, there are some key differences between them.

Need any help choosing between the two on your next trip to the beauty supply? These are the major distinctions between body lotion and body butter, including their ingredients, textures, and uses.

The difference between body butter and body lotion

Body butter and body lotion are both moisturizing, but they have differences. A significant and simple discrepancy, Kiehl's says, is the way that they feel. Where body butters have a richer, denser consistency like their name implies, lotions have a thinner, fluid structure. This contrast in texture presents another key difference between body lotions and butters: the proportion of ingredients. Butters have a thicker texture because their elements, like cocoa butter, shea butter, or mango butter, usually remain solid at room temperature. Lotions, however, are made with a large percentage of water or liquid components and a bit of oil, making their consistency looser than the butters (per Ipsy).


Secondly, the absorption rate of these moisturizer types into the skin itself marks another difference between them. Because body butters have a creamier texture, containing more oils and fats, they don't absorb as quickly, but are deeply moisturizing. Meanwhile, lotions sink easily into the skin due to their water content, but are not as nourishing as butters (per SkinKraft).

Both body butters and lotions benefit the skin, but different skin types have vastly different needs when it comes to moisturizers and, as such, can be unsure of which one is best for them. Body butter or body lotion: here's how to know which is best for your skin.

When should I use a body butter or body lotion?

If you have dry skin, body lotions provide some relief, but SkinKraft does warn that they are less deeply moisturizing than other options. On the other hand, body butters are extremely enriching, making them the better choice for your skin type. If you have oily skin, body butter might feel too heavy. In this case, a body lotion would be the right choice, as it hydrates while leaving a light, non-greasy, and non-sticky feel. Also, if you have issues with acne, you might need to use your body butter lightly, as it may contain ingredients that can clog your pores (per Skincare).


Your skin will likely get dehydrated in colder or drier weather, so CocoSoul recommends body butters to prevent dryness, especially around your knees, soles of your feet, and elbows, as they get drier faster. In warmer weather, Ipsy says to get a body lotion for daily use, as your skin is less likely to get parched due to the weather.

It would help if you also considered how much time you have to apply your body moisturizer. Body butters take time to get absorbed and may not be the best option if you must prepare fast and leave soon. Body lotions, however, sink into the skin easier, providing quick, on-the-go hydration (per Wow Skin Science). This makes body lotions a better option for daily use.


How to apply your body lotion or body butter

Moisturizing your body is great, but knowing how to do it correctly is even better. According to I Love Cosmetics, one of the best ways to apply your body butter is by using it as an intensive treatment on damp skin before bed. Body butter offers long hydration periods but is slowly absorbed into the skin, making it perfect for overnight application. So after a shower, pat your skin until it is slightly damp and spread the body butter on. This will help your skin lock in even more healing hydration. If you have dry feet, massage the body butter in and wear some thick socks before bed. It will seal the moisture into your feet and protect your floors from greasy footprints.


You should also similarly apply your body lotions. After taking a shower or bath, you can pat your skin a bit, but don't fully dry yourself off. Hanalei Beauty explains that damp skin absorbs products better, which helps your body lotion moisturize your epidermis. 

For some shopping inspo, we're big fans of the 54 Thrones African Body Butter and the Olaedo Naturals Classic Body Butter. For body lotions, we recommend the Nécessaire The Body Lotion, and the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion for a fantastic but budget-friendly option.