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First up, I need to say that I’m definitely a Body Butter fan.  As someone who suffers the annoyance of dry, itchy skin, especially in Winter, I simply cannot go a day without my body butter.  That said, in Summer, I bring out the body oil and lotion as a lighter option to nourish and repair my skin after exposure to sun, surf and chlorine.

That’s me but there are so many differing views on this and it will depend on your skin type, skin condition, lifestyle, weather conditions…and personal choice.

The official line

Both body oil and lotion/butter are designed primarily to moisturise the skin, so how exactly do they differ? Oils help re-introduce and lock in lost moisture to keep skin hydrated and protected from further water loss.  Oils absorb deeply into the skin – but also offer a protective layer preventing moisture loss.  Butters, on the other hand, are part water-based and offer immediate relief from dryness while giving skin a hydrated, plumped appearance.  Lotions come in various forms to treat different skincare concerns—such as dry skin, eczema, itchy skin or bumps from Keratosis Pilaris.

The Benefits of Body Oil 

  • Oils regulate sebum production.  Oils absorb quickly and deeply to strengthen underlying skin cells and tissues.   Because many plant-based oils—coconut, avocado, jojoba, and almond, for example—mimic the natural lipids found in our skin, the similarities in structure can help repair and re-regulate your skin’s moisture barrier, which is responsible for oil production.
  • Oils improve skin barrier function.  Research shows that when these oils are absorbed by the skin, the top layers of our skin treat them as their own—repairing and moisturising, as well as giving you a natural glow.
  • Oils tend to be cleaner.  Most natural oils are pure and free from toxic and harsh ingredients including artificial fragrances.  Toxic skincare is a thing of the past.

The Benefits of Body Butter / Lotion 

Nothing says “hydration” like a really good quality all-natural body butter. When your skin is dry and uncomfortable—you need instant moisture so that you’ll feel nourished and hydrated. 

The ingredients in a quality natural body butter should include nourishing oils, butters, botanicals containing nutritious vitamins and fatty acids, which help to nourish and revitalize your skin and improve healthy skin texture.

  • Butters and lotions moisturise dry skin: Lotions are a mix of oil and water and typically work better for delivering immediate relief for dry skin.  Because they’re partly water-based, they’re often better at penetrating the skin, and can deliver ingredients that improve the ability of skin to maintain moisture.
  • Butters have a rich, creamy texture and usually contain Shea or Cocoa Butter to provide your body with vitamins A, C, and E. These are powerful antioxidants that work together to protect your skin and reduce the risk of damage caused by the sun and other types of exposure.
  • Body butter benefits your skin because it contains healthy fats like omega 3s, which helps relieve symptoms of certain skin ailments, such as rashes, stretch marks, burns, and bites.  These fatty acids not only relieve discomfort, but they also help your skin look and feel plump and rejuvenated
  • Butters and Lotions prolong the life of your self-tan.  Self tanning devotees know that hydrated skin means your tan will have a longer lifespan.

Body butter and body oil are both excellent multi-use emollients. They can be used in many ways for all kinds of benefits such as:

  • Relieving dry patches on your elbow and knees.
  • Hydrating dry hands and knuckles
  • Healing stretch marks and scars
  • Soothing freshly-shaved legs
  • Massaging sore or aching muscles

How to Apply Body Oil 

It’s all about timing. Because of their occlusive nature, oils will work better when your skin is wet (since it helps lock in that water) so it is ideal applied directly after bath or shower (or pop some oil in your bath).  Simply pat skin dry with a towel, and then apply your moisturizer, mixing with droplets of water still left on skin. This will help lock in the maximum amount of hydration possible. If you’re looking for an extra dose of hydration for parched skin, you can layer a body oil underneath your lotion.

How to Apply Lotion or Butter

So, how does lotion work best? Like body oil, lotions should be applied onto damp skin right after bath or shower.  This is especially helpful if you love a piping hot shower, as this can tend to dry out your skin even more.  You can use it post-shaving to prevent the freshly exposed skin from getting dry as well as to calm any razor bumps or irritation.

The bottom line

It really comes down to personal preference—and timing. And for that reason, it’s a good idea to have both on hand. But because lotion already contains water, and is lighter than a butter and great if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to wait for oil to absorb before you dress, it can be your ‘whenever’ moisturiser.   In winter, the body butter can be a lifesaver from itchy dry skin and in Summer, there’s nothing better for your skin than slathering on a nourishing body oil after or during bath or shower.

Finally, always make sure to read the label and be wary of ingredients that will irritate or even dry your skin out more.  Avoid gel-based products or those containing alcohol, artificial fragrance and harsh preservatives.

Whatever option or combination you choose, regular use will give you healthy, happy skin.