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A product shot of Kiehl's Creme de Corps line next to fresh cocoa beans


What's The Difference Between Body Butter and Body Lotion?

Wondering whether body lotion or body butter is better for you? Here at Kiehl’s, we’ll break down the differences between these body care staples.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of keeping your skin moisturized. Adequate hydration helps support the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which is the key to maintaining healthy-looking, comfortable skin. But external stressors—such as chilly temps, indoor heating, and even hot water—can strip the skin of essential moisture and lead to dryness. That’s where moisturizers, like body butter and body lotion, come in.

While they both help moisturize and soften skin, body butters and lotions do have some key differences—and determining which you should use requires understanding what those differences are. Thankfully, you’ve got us. Here, we’ll explain how body lotion and body butter differ and answer your FAQs about moisturizers (like what is body butter, exactly?). Plus, we’ll provide recommendations for the best body moisturizers to use depending on your skin type and concerns. Keep reading for our in-depth guide to body butters, lotions, and more.

What’s The Difference Between Body Lotion and Body Butter?

Body lotions and body butters are both moisturizers designed to be used on the skin below your neck. Each one is hydrating, and they can each help soften skin and minimize dryness. But, they’re not exactly the same.

The biggest difference between body lotion and body butter is texture: The former tends to have a higher water content and more liquid consistency, while the latter is usually thicker and creamier (like, well, butter). Body butter may have a higher concentration of heavy moisturizers, such as shea butter, while body lotion is typically formulated with lightweight hydrators, like glycerin.

Which Is Better: Body Butter or Body Lotion?

Both body butters and lotions can have a place in your body care routine—it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Here, learn about the benefits of these moisturizers and how to use body butter and body lotion in your routine.

What Is Body Butter Good For?

Generally speaking, thicker moisturizers (like body butters) are ideal for dry, rough skin. They can help replenish skin’s natural oils and protect the skin from stressors that would otherwise exacerbate dryness or irritation. Body butters also tend to have a luxurious feel, so they’re an excellent option if you’re looking for an indulgent self-care moment. That doesn’t mean you can’t use body butter every day, though—when it comes to skincare, it’s your personal preferences that matter most.

What Is Body Lotion Good For?

While body butters are usually on the richer side, body lotions tend to be light and fast-absorbing. They’re therefore a great choice for when you need to hydrate your skin but don’t want to leave it feeling heavy or weighed-down. Since they absorb quickly, they can also be used on-the-go to hydrate your skin anytime it needs a little extra moisture.

Our Best Body Moisturizers For Your Skin

Now that you’re caught up on the differences between body lotions and body butters, read on to discover our favorite moisturizers to use in your daily body care routine.

For All Skin Types:

Creme de Corps Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter

As far as we’re concerned, the absolute best body lotion for dry skin is Creme de Corps Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter. This iconic formula has been a Kiehl’s favorite since its inception in the 1980s and is suitable for all skin types. As a lotion, it has a thinner texture than a body butter, and it’s easy to apply, spread, and absorb. It’s packed with lightweight hydrators, including squalane and glycerin, to hydrate and soften the skin. We recommend applying it liberally after stepping out of the shower while your skin is still damp to help trap in moisture for soft, silky-feeling skin.

For Dry or Dehydrated Skin:

Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

For skin that feels dry or dehydrated (yes, there is a difference between the two), we recommend reaching for a slightly richer treatment, such as Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter. This luxurious moisturizer contains nourishing jojoba butter, shea butter, and honey to soften and deeply hydrate the skin. The unique, air-whipped formula has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly for 24-hour hydration. It’s suitable for all skin types but especially useful for those who need an extra dose of moisture. Apply it after showering for soft, moisturized skin without a greasy feel.

For Lightweight Hydration:

Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion

If you don’t often deal with dryness, you probably have a "normal" skin type. This basically means you don’t have any major skin concerns to contend with (congratulations!). Still, it’s best to moisturize your body every day. We recommend Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion to keep your skin feeling hydrated and healthy. This formula (a Kiehl’s staple since the 1960s) features aloe vera and oatmeal, and it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It absorbs quickly and easily for a silky feel, and leaves the skin with a light, fresh scent.

For Your Hands:

Richly Hydrating Scented Hand Cream

We use our hands a lot, which leaves them particularly vulnerable to dryness and associated symptoms like cracking and peeling. To help keep your hands moisturized every day, incorporate Richly Hydrating Scented Hand Cream into your routine. Made with shea butter and vitamin E, this velvety hand cream provides intense hydration to help nourish dry hands. Despite its buttery texture, the formula sinks into the skin quickly, leaving your hands feeling soft and infused with a light, pleasant scent.

For Severely Dry Areas:

Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas

If your skin is extremely dry, cracked, or callused, you may benefit from a heavy-duty treatment, such as Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry or Callused Areas. This thick, soothing salve features a blend of ultra-hydrating botanical ingredients, including avocado oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, to nourish and soften dry, damaged skin. You can use it on any spots that are extremely dry or rough, like your elbows, heels, or hands. For extra hydration of your hands and feet, you can DIY an overnight treatment by applying a thick layer of this salve under a pair of cotton gloves or socks. It’ll help the moisturizer soak in (and prevent it from rubbing off on your sheets) for softer, smoother skin by morning.

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