Beauty 101: Body Butter vs. Lotion vs. Oil: What’s the Best?

When it comes to making the skin on the rest of your body feel amazing, you’re pretty spoiled for choice - body lotions, body butters, and body oils are all products that you should consider having in your beauty stash to ensure your skin looks amazing from top to toe. Here are our top body care tips for choosing the right moisturiser for your body and how to get the most from them!

Body Care Products: What’s the Difference?

When you think of body moisturisers, there are three main types that normally come to mind - right? Body lotions (which technically includes creams), body butters, and body oils. But if all of them are supposed to help with the same thing - moisturising skin - what makes them different from each other? Not to worry - we’ve got answers to all your questions!

Clarins Extra Firming Body Cream Product Image on White BackgroundClarins Extra-Firming Body Cream 
This anti-aging body cream helps to firm skin, instantly smoothing dryness for soft, touchable skin.

What Makes a Good Body Care Lotion?

A body lotion is a safe option that tends to do the trick for everyone’s skin - you might also see them called body milks, as some have ultralight, milky textures that just sink into your skin. Bliss! What sets a body lotion formula apart from body butter or oil is that a lotion is technically an emulsion. 

All that means is that it’s a blend of water-based ingredients and oil-based ingredients; some of our favourite water-based ingredients to find in a body lotion are glycerin and hyaluronic acid, both amazing humectants that help to attract water to your skin and boost hydration. 

L'Occitane Rose Body Milk product image on white backgroundL’Occitane Rose Body Milk
Scented with French roses, this lightweight body milk moisturises skin and adds a touch of fragrance.

Oil-based ingredients usually refer to plant-based oils, like sweet almond oil and shea butter, but can also refer to lipid-based ingredients that are derived from whole oils and fatty alcohols. A blend of these two types of ingredients come together perfectly to moisturise dry skin, instantly softening and conditioning it for a hydrated glow. 

However, depending on your individual skin, a body care routine at home that only has a body lotion might not be enough - if you’re finding your skin is still a bit drier (and ashier), even with body lotion, it might be time to move up from a body care lotion to body butter. 

What Does Body Butter Do?

If you’re wondering what sets a body butter or body cream apart from a body lotion, the main clue is in the texture. Body butters are much thicker with a creamier, indulgent texture that takes a little longer to sink into your skin. 

Why? This is because these heavier, creamier moisturises have a few more lipids and oil-based ingredients added to the formula, working hard to lock in hydration and add a more comforting, moisturising feeling to your skin. 

Vine Vera Intensive Shea Body Butter product image on white backgroundVine Vera Intensive Shea Body Butter
This ultra-creamy body moisturiser is loaded with skin-nurturing shea butter for healthy, soft skin. 

When it comes to your body care routine at home, a body cream is a star product to add - especially for winter! These heavier moisturisers are perfect for stopping dry skin in its tracks, getting rid of ashy skin and ensuring your skin has a glow - no matter the temperature.

However, some skin types need the big guns - and that’s where body care oil comes in. 

Why Use Body Oil?

Body oils are in essence, pure oils that are intended for use on your body. They make great massage oils, by the way! If you’re dealing with some seriously dry skin on your body, or want to protect your skin from any dry, cold weather, body oil might be the way to go. 

Remember how we said that body oils work as occlusives and emollients? A body care oil is one of the best things that you can do to help your skin hold onto any essential hydration as well as fortify your skin against hydration loss and dryness. 

Natural plant oils form a barrier that keeps hydrating skincare ingredients like panthenol and glycerin in your skin and makes sure that any water they bring to your epidermis - your upper layer of skin - stays there. 

L'Occitane Shea Fabulous Body Oil product image on white backgroundL’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil 
Lock essential hydration to your skin with this Shea Butter based body oil from L’Occitane. 

However, using natural oils can be a double-edged sword - their superpower of keeping all that hydration in your skin is only as good as how much hydration there is to start with. Basically, if you put all the goodness of a body oil over dry skin, you’re not going to get as much of a benefit compared to putting a body care oil over skin that’s already full of hydration.

The solution? Locking in your favourite lightweight body care lotion with body oil - this means you get all the benefits of the hydrating, lightweight ingredients in your favourite body lotion, boosting them with a body care oil so your skin stays moisturised and hydrated -  no more ashy skin!

L'Occitane Almond Delightful Body Balm product image on white backgroundL’Occitane Almond Delightful Body Balm
Almond oil packs a punch - and that’s what makes this body balm from L’Occitane such a nurturing, comforting moisturiser. 

If you’re still trying to create the perfect skincare routine - for your face, that is - try our skincare quiz! You’ll get a tailored result to your skin type and concerns.

Beauty Affairs Skin Routine Quiz

Products Mentioned:

  • Clarins Extra-Firming Body Cream 
  • L’Occitane Rose Body Milk
  • Vine Vera Intensive Shea Body Butter
  • L’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil 
  • L’Occitane Almond Delightful Body Balm
  • Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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