Have you ever stood in the store staring at endless shelves of lotions, creams and body butters, wondering which one to choose and why? With the array of body products available on the market, making smart skin care choices can be daunting. But, if you educate yourself about ingredients, know how products are labeled, and understand your skin type, you will reap the benefits of moisturizers.
Until I delved into the world of natural skin care, I had no clue why I picked a product. When I look back, I think it was based on how pretty the packaging was.
My quest to find wild harvested plant based materials forced me to ask the question… what are the chemical differences between effective body lotions, creams and body butters?
Before I go on, let's first answer the question ... what causes dry skin? Dry skin results when the skin loses its natural moisture due to factors, like harsh weather, poor nutrition, pollution, toxins, cosmetics, aging, and frequent washing. The natural oil or moisture on our skin acts as a protective barrier to prevent dryness and irritation. When the skin loses its moisture, it becomes rough. To protect the skin and retain its moisture, we can use different types of skin moisturizers like, body lotion, cream, and body butter.
So how is body butter different from a lotion or cream? The answer lies in the ingredients and composition.
By definition, lotions and creams contain water, body butters do not. Some lotions contain up to 70% water. While we all understand that our bodies need water, we know that if we just spread water on our skin, dryness follows shortly thereafter. Lotion tries to minimize this by adding in moisturizing agents such as oils and other ingredients. But our skin knows the difference and all too often the lotion wears off quickly leaving us back to where we started….dry skin.
Rough, dry skin can be difficult to quench and that’s where body butters come in. Thicker in texture than lotions, butters are richer, luxurious and more intense products because they have a higher viscosity. When butters penetrate the skin, they create barriers that nourish and condition, preventing moisture from evaporating through the pores. The result is skin that is visibly smoother and silky soft. When included in your daily skin care regime, there simply is no comparison.
Since water is not present in the formula, the uses of preservatives are not really necessary therefore; you have a more natural product, assuming you are using an organic brand. Note: this does not mean they don't have a shelf life.
If you have extremely dry skin, we recommend using a body butter treatment daily for 7-10 days to help recondition and soften your skin. Even though you will notice the difference immediately, using good quality body butters will provide ongoing skin nourishment.
Body Lotion and Cream
While body lotions and body creams offer similar benefits for our skin, there is one major difference in the composition and that is the water content.
A body lotion is basically a moisturizer, prepared by combining a higher content of water than oil. It is usually lighter and non-greasy therefore, our skin can readily absorb it. Lotions can effectively moisturize skin and they are ideal for all skin types, including even moderately dry skin. During the summer months lotions tend to be more popular due the light weight factor.
Body creams are not so different from lotions, as they are also a combination of oil and water. The main difference between these two products is that body cream contains more oils thus giving it a thicker consistency than body lotion.
The choice between the two depends on your skin type. Those with relatively drier skin can benefit more from body creams than lotions.
What’s Best for Your Skin?
The choice between butters, lotions and creams depend entirely on your skin type and the climatic conditions. Those with normal to moderately dry skin can try body lotion, while those with extremely dry skin should use body butter.
During the summer body lotion can provide moisture without being greasy. But in the dry winter days, you may like to give skin some additional moisture and hydration by using body butter, especially if your skin is extremely dry. Along with moisture, the various ingredients of body butter such as essential fats and minerals can also make your skin smoother, softer, and healthier.
The Bottom Line
Of course, each formulation contains vitamins and minerals with benefits that can address any of your concerns. Once you have decided between a butter, cream or lotion, it’s time to find the best skin care products for your specific needs.
TIP: If you select a lotion or cream product that contains just water, I recommend choosing one that uses hydrosols, aloe vera or herbal infusions. They will help maintain the moisture in your skin while providing antioxidants and nutrients.
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