It’s impossible to overstate the importance of keeping your skin moisturized. Well-hydrated skin promotes a healthy skin barrier, which is essential for keeping your skin looking and feeling its best. But, as temperatures drop, we’re all more likely to start experiencing some form of skin dryness. That’s where body butter and body lotion come in.
All moisturizers are designed to help rehydrate your skin to keep it looking healthy and feeling soft — but that’s where the similarities end. Determining whether you're better off using a body butter or a body lotion first requires understanding the differences between the two. Thankfully, you’ve got us. Ahead, we’ll outline the differences between body butter and body lotion. We’ll also provide recommendations for the best body moisturizers for every skin type so you can enjoy smooth, healthy skin all year long. Keep reading for the official Kiehl’s guide to body moisturizers.
First Things First: 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 for healthier-feeling and better-looking skin. 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 or cocoa butter, while body lotion may be formulated with lightweight hydrators, like squalane. As such, body lotions are excellent for daily use, as they’re hydrating but not heavy or greasy. Body butters, on the other hand, are ideal for those with dry skin, as they’re thicker and often offer more intense hydration.
That doesn’t mean that body lotion should be avoided if you have dry skin. It merely means that body lotion will have a more liquid feel than body butter. Realistically, both can help improve the texture and appearance of dry skin — which you choose should depend on the ingredients, your personal preferences, and what type of skin you have.
For Normal To Dry Skin
As far as we’re concerned, the absolute best body lotion for dry skin is Creme de Corps body lotion. This iconic formula has been a Kiehl’s favorite since its inception in the 1980s and is safe for all skin types. As a lotion, it has a thinner texture than body butter, so it’s easy to apply, spread, and absorb. It’s packed with lightweight hydrators, including squalane and glycerin, to hydrate and soften the skin.
For Dry or Dehydrated Skin
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, softening shea butter, and emollient 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.
What If I Don’t Have Dry Skin?
Even if your skin doesn’t feel dry, it’s important to moisturize every day (yes, every day) to keep your skin barrier hydrated, healthy, and working its best. While you can absolutely use a body butter even if you have normal or oily skin, we recommend reaching for lightweight body lotions to keep your skin balanced without feeling weighed down. The formula you choose will depend largely on your skin type and your specific needs.
For Normal or Sensitive Skin
If you don’t deal with dryness or oiliness, you probably have a "normal" skin type. This basically means you don’t have any major skin concerns to contend with (congratulations!). Still, you need to moisturize your body every day. We recommend Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion to keep your skin 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 is available in three stunning botanical scents: grapefruit, coriander, and lavender.
For Oily Skin
It may seem counterintuitive to add moisturizer to skin that already feels oily, but keeping skin hydrated is essential for maintaining your its health. If your skin is oily or prone to breakouts, such as body acne, try a lightweight body moisturizer, like Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion. This antioxidant-rich formula stars argan oil, a natural moisturizer that helps to improve skin tone and texture and may even help minimize breakouts.I Smooth on this luxe body cream every day after showering for healthy-looking skin.
What If My Skin Is Severely Dry?
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 anywhere on your body that is 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 into your skin (and prevent it from rubbing off on your sheets) for softer, smoother skin by morning.
IGuillaume, Dom, and Charrouf, Zoubida. "Argan Oil." Alternative Medicine Review: vol.16, 3: 275-79, 2011.