Body Butter versus Body Lotion – What’s the Difference?

October 11, 2022

women thinking with lotion on nose

‍There are a ton of different skincare products on the market that can effectively moisturize your skin. 

Some come in the form of creams, some as body butters, lotions, serums, gels, ointments, balms and even salves. But what’s the difference? Do they serve different purposes? Should you use one over the other? 

women looking at different skincare products in bathroom

Well, that all depends on your skincare goals and pure ingredient values (more on that in a minute). 

Below, we’ll break down the differences between the two most commonly used types of skin moisturizers: body butter versus body lotion – so you can make an informed decision when making your next skincare purchase!

*Shameless plug – if you’re looking for the BEST all natural body butter on the market – with pure essential oils, grass-fed tallow and seriously good vibes – then check out our natural moisturizers aka body butters NOW! 

nefertem ad for moisturizers

What is Body Butter?✨

Body butter is a thick, rich moisturizer that is used to nourish dry or flaky skin. Body butters are often used on the hands, arms, elbows, legs, knees, and feet because they tend to be the areas most prone to dryness. 

Body butters are made with a blend of ingredients that are designed to deeply moisturize your skin. 

body butter

They typically contain natural ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax that help hydrate your skin naturally without creating an unbreathable barrier as does petroleum-based products (like mineral oil or petroleum jelly). 

Most body butters are made to have a thick, creamy texture that requires gentle heating or softening before application. 

To apply, you simply scoop out a peanut-sized amount into your hands, rub your palms together to warm and soften the body butter, then apply just as you would a lotion. 

Keep in mind that because body butters are often much more hydrating “per square inch” then lotions, they typically require you to use far less product than you would a lotion. 

older lady applying lotion

Body butters are also a great choice for people with “pure ingredient values” (meaning they favor pure, natural or organic ingredients over artificial chemicals).

As body butters are anhydrous (do not contain water) they are much less likely to develop mold, which means they rarely contain chemical preservatives. 

What is Body Lotion?🧴

Body lotion is a thinner, lighter moisturizer that is used to keep your skin hydrated without heavy butters, fats or waxes. Many lotions contain water as the primary ingredient, followed by lightweight oils, leaving your skin feeling hydrated without a greasy feeling. 

Many people prefer lotions during the summertime or in humid locations because they provide thinner coverage that tends to “dry” faster than body butters.

women applying lotion on beach

However, this “drying” does not necessarily mean that the lotion is absorbing quickly or more easily but can actually be caused by evaporation due to the high water and alcohol content in lotions. 

Because lotions are hydrous (contain water), or contain water-based ingredients like aloe vera, lotions very commonly contain preservatives to prevent microbial growth such as mold and bacteria. 

Unfortunately, some of these preservatives (parabens, propylene glycols, tetrasodium EDTA, etc…) have been shown to cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, and more serious health problems such as increased risk for breast cancer, asthma and kidney problems

The Difference Between Body Butter and Body Lotion🤔

Body butter and body lotion both serve the purpose of moisturizing your skin, but they have different textures and ingredients. 

hand pumping lotion from bottle

Body butter is thicker and richer, while body lotion is lighter and thinner. 

Body butters tend to contain ingredients rich in fatty acids such as butters, tallow, and waxes, whereas lotions tend to contain water-based or water-soluble ingredients. 

Body butters require very little product to effectively moisturize an area of the body, while lotions require more product to achieve the same level of skin hydration.

Lotions may need to be applied more than once during the day to maintain skin hydration due to their water content, whereas body butters typically only need to be applied once in the morning (or after an evening shower) to attain day-long moisture.

Body butters tend to absorb deep into the layers of the skin due to their similarity to human sebum (skin oil) composition, while lotions tend to create barriers on the skin when containing petroleum-based ingredients. 

women moisturizing legs with nefertem body butter

How to Choose Which Moisturizer Is Right for You🪄

If you want a product that is more hydrating and will deeply moisturize your skin, go with a body butter. 

If you want something lighter that evaporates fast, a body lotion is your best bet! 

With that said, there are many different brands of body butters and body lotions available on the market, so it can be tough to know which one to try. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide which skincare brand of body butter or body lotion is right for you: texture, common use, fragrance, and ingredients. 

nefertem body butter ad


If you already tend to have moist skin and find body butters too thick for you, choose a body lotion. 

On the flipside, if you have dry, cracked, or flaky skin, choose a body butter for moisture that sticks around.

Common Use

Consider your location, activities, and humidity levels. If you’re working with paper products and you just applied a body butter, you’re likely to leave an oil stain, so opt instead for a water-based lotion.

If you’re going out for a mid-summer jog in a high humidity area, you’re probably better off going for the body lotion. 

women jogging

If you have a profession that requires constant handwashing (doctor or nurse), you may want to choose a body butter to prevent skin cracks and seal in long-lasting moisture.


Not only is fragrance a consideration based on our scent preference and enjoyment, but it’s also a consideration based on what the fragrance is made of so find a brand that fits your liking.

If you prefer natural, find a brand that uses only essential oils to scent their body butters and body lotions to achieve a strong, yet natural aroma. 

natural essential oils

If you prefer a wider range of scents, and are fine with using artificial fragrances, find a brand that carries your favorite scent. 

With that said, be mindful that artificial fragrances have been shown to contain endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and hormone-modulating chemicals that can increase your risk of reproductive harm.


Determine if you have “pure ingredient values” or not. Knowing this can help you choose the right product for you based on reading the list of ingredients on the label. 

If a skincare product contains parabens, propylene glycol, artificial fragrance, or disodium EDTA, and you value applying pure ingredients on your skin, don’t buy it! 

Instead, seek out 100% natural, pure ingredient, clean skincare products

nefertem skincare products

On the other hand, if you’re not concerned about what ingredients are in the body butter or lotion, grab what works for you based on the above differences we’ve discussed. 

Bottom line

Overall, body butters and body lotions are wonderful skincare products. They hydrate, soothe, and protect your skin to keep it healthy and glowing. 

older lady showing her glowing skin after using nefertem products

Whether you have dry skin, an oily complexion, or combination skin, you will likely benefit from using either one of these products. 

To choose the one that is best for you, simply determine what texture you like best, how you will use it, and what ingredients you prefer. Then make your purchase! 

Nefertem Holistic Skincare – The Cleanest Skincare on the Market!🧼

At Nefertem, we pride ourselves on giving your skin everything it wants and none of what it doesn’t. 

Our body butters (which we call moisturizers to show they can be used on the face as well as the body) are made with organic, unrefined, grade A ingredients such as shea butter, tallow, coconut oil, beeswax, jojoba oil and essential oils. 

We have never and will never sacrifice quality or safety for a cheaper price. Your skin is way to precious for all that mess. (Learn more about us.)

Treat your skin with love + intention. Treat your skin to Nefertem. 

nefertem moisturizer ad

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