Skincare » What Is Body Butter and Why Do You Need It?

What Is Body Butter and Why Do You Need It?

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Rich and creamy, body butter is one of the most luxurious skincare products we can use on our bodies. If you have dry skin, you definitely need to have some on hand for when your skin gets truly parched. Whether you buy a whipped, all-natural butter from the booth at the local farmer’s market or choose a decadently fragranced tub from Sephora, it’s important that you know what body butter is all about.

Thankfully, we cover everything you need to know about body butter in this post! We’ll explain what it is and how it differs from similar products like body lotion. Then we’ll let you know about its unique benefits, and finally, give you some pro tips for how to use body butter for the best results.

In this article:

What Is Body Butter?

Body butter is a type of body moisturizer made with a thick texture and a lot of oils. As a result, it is deeply moisturizing and reparative, especially to those with dry skin. There are two main types of body butters worth knowing about.

Waterless Body Butter

Many body butters, especially ones from all-natural brands or homemade ones, are composed strictly of plant oils and butters. The liquid oils and the more solid butters get mixed together (and often whipped), so they have a cream-like consistency. However, they’re technically not creams, since a cream is an emulsion of water and oil, and these body butters are entirely waterless.

Because they don’t contain any water, these body butters can often be made without any preservatives. They’re fantastic at replenishing the skin’s natural oils. However, because they don’t contain water, they can’t infuse the skin with water and combat dehydration the way a cream formula can.

Read Next: How to Choose the Right Body Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

Cream-Like Body Butters

Most commercial body butters are basically very thick and rich body creams. Their formulas are an emulsion of water, oils, and plant butters, and they often also contain water-attracting humectants.

They’re still very rich and thick, which helps combat the lack of oil in the skin, but they are also able to hydrate the skin directly. Some creamy body butters also get the whipping treatment, so they end up with a very airy and sumptuous texture.

Body Butter Benefits

How Is Body Butter Different from Lotion?

As a rule, body butters are always thicker than body lotions, and they contain a higher percentage of oils, plant butters, and other oil-like substances. Lotions, on the other hand, are much lighter, with a very high percentage of water that makes them fantastic for dealing with dehydration.

For those with oily skin, body butters can feel a little greasy, so body lotions might be the preferred body moisturizer. Those with dry skin, however, will appreciate the richness of body butter.

Cream-like body butters, aside from being thicker, are still formulated following the same basic principles as a lotion. Waterless body butters, however, are based on a very different and much simpler oil-based formula.

Read Next: How to Use Your Body Lotion or Cream

Body Butter Benefits

Body butter has many of the same benefits as other body moisturizers, but since it’s thicker, it also has some unique benefits that are entirely its own.


Because of the rich, thick oils, body butter is fantastic at locking moisture into the skin, especially after a shower. Body butters with shea or cocoa butter, especially, have strong occlusive effects, which means that they create a protective barrier that prevents moisture from evaporating. This is essential for keeping moisture inside, especially if you have dry skin that doesn’t produce enough oil on its own.

Soothing and Healing

The protective layer of oils is also very soothing and healing to the skin, especially when it’s severely dry or chapped. The essential fatty acids present in most botanical oils have been found to speed up the healing time of surface wounds.

While we wouldn’t recommend them in place of first aid, they’re very beneficial for speeding up the repair process of skin that has already started to heal or that is suffering from minor, surface-level damage or irritation. Those suffering from eczema or similar sensitive skin conditions will also benefit from these healing effects.


Depending on the body butter you choose, you may also be able to benefit from directly hydrating effects. Body butters made with water and humectants can load the skin up with a respectable amount of moisture, which they also seal into the skin in the same step. Look for formulas that include water as their first ingredient if you want those added hydrating effects.

Read Next: How to Make Body Butter at Home? DIY Body Butter Recipes


The high amount of antioxidants like vitamins E and A in most plant butters and oils gives most body butters some anti-aging effects, especially when it comes to prevention and protection. The antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage caused by external aggressors, which is an important part of preventing early signs of aging like fine lines or pigmentation on the body.

How to Use Body Butter

Beautifully Scented

Body butters are often made with complex essential oil blends that smell fantastic. As the body butter reacts with the heat of your body, those fragrance compounds float into the air, surrounding you in a gentle cloud of scent that’s not as strong as perfume.

You can rely on body butter to act as a base layer under your perfume (just make sure to choose complementary scents), or you can use it instead of perfume for a more delicate scent.

How to Use Body Butter

The best time to use body butter is immediately after the shower. You can also use it at night before bed, especially on the parts of your skin that tend to get dry at night. In the daytime, you can use it before going outside, especially in winter when the skin is more susceptible to dryness.

  • If you’re using body butter after a shower, first make sure to towel off gently. Press the towel against your skin instead of rubbing, so that your skin remains slightly damp.
  • Dispense a bit of body butter in your hand. If your body butter comes in a tub, it’s better to use a small spatula to get it out since sticking your fingers directly inside can introduce germs and bacteria.
  • Begin massaging the body butter into your skin, using circular motions. Work strategically, section by section, so you can cover your entire body with an even layer.
  • Once your entire body is covered in body butter, give it a few moments to sink in well before putting any clothes on.
  • If your body butter has a waterless formula, you can first moisturize your skin with a lighter body lotion, then layer the body butter on top to seal it in.

Photos via @dearglowgetter, @nikki.cruz, Instagram