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When you’re plagued with dry skin, it can feel like no amount of body lotions or creams are ever moisturizing enough. And you’re not imagining things — many hydrating products can just simply sit on the surface of skin, rarely getting absorbed to repair dryness. But that’s where body butters save the day. These rich, ultra-concentrated creams can resolve a plethora of concerns, from cracked skin to achy muscles to reducing the appearance of cellulite. But first and foremost, what is body butter?
What is Body Butter?
“I like to think it’s a descriptive term,” says Bee Shapiro, founder of fragrance and body care brand Ellis Brooklyn and New York Times columnist. “It’s not a technical term, but we use it to communicate that the texture is extra rich and thick.”
Almost any skin type can benefit from using body butter, as the extra hydration will help soothe and hydrate even normal to oily skin, but dry and sensitive skin are especially nourished by body butters.
“Texture and concentration of moisturizing ingredients are what define a butter versus a lotion,” says Dr. Audrey Kunin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dermadoctor. “While both hydrate the skin, body butters are thicker, creamier, and contain a higher concentration of super-moisturizing ingredients, such as squalene or shea butter, than their thinner, lighter-weight lotion counterparts.”
Here are a few ingredients to look out for based on your skin type.
- Sensitive: For sensitive skin, a mix of ceramides and other essential fatty acids, like shea butter, help repair the skin barrier, says Dr. Kunin.
- Oily: “Silicones are also a very effective occlusive without having that heavy feeling of petrolatum, mineral oil, or waxes,” says Dr. Shereene Idriss, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology. “So if you’re kind of oily, but living in a very dry environment and wanting to kind of seal it in on your body, silicone is your way to go.” Silicones form a barrier on top of your skin and are often found in the ingredient list with words ending in “-ane” or “-one.” Jergens Lavender Triple Butter Blend is a silicone-boosted butter, for example.
- Dry: Shea, cocoa, and mango butters are ideal ingredients for combating dry skin. These are often used because they’re rich in fatty acids, which soften and moisturize the skin. Nourishing oils, like argan, olive, sunflower seed, jojoba, and rosehip, are really wonderful additions to formulas, too, says Shapiro.
- Minimalist: This isn’t a skin type, but if you want to keep your routine super pared-down, try petrolatum. “Good old Vaseline is actually a great body butter,” says Dr. Idriss.
Best Body Butters of 2022
Body Butter vs. Body Lotion
When it comes to the difference in composition, body butters are purposefully developed to be much thicker than a body lotion. “When you think of a lotion, the classic sense of a lotion, it is much runnier and it’s technically richer in humectants compared to occlusives,” says Dr. Idriss. “Whereas a body butter is much thicker and it is richer in occlusives versus humectants.” This means that body butters will help seal in moisture while body lotions will deliver nutrients to the surface, but not leave a seal of protection.
Choosing a body butter over a body lotion depends on your skin type, how dry you are, as well as the season or climate that you’re currently living in. “If you’re in a very dry and arid climate, you probably want to go for a thick body butter, especially after a shower, to seal all that moisture and hydration in,” says Dr. Idriss. “If you’re in a much more tropical or humid environment and your skin is not that dry, then a lotion that is richer in humectants is probably the way to go for your body.”
The Benefits of Body Butter
There are a few specific reasons why you’d pick up a tub of body butter instead of lotion.
- Deeper Hydration: Since body butters are more loaded with ultra-rich hydrators, Shapiro says that “body lotions generally are less hydrating because the formula needs to be more liquid in order to go through a pump or tube. Water, for example, is usually an ingredient in body lotions but is not often in body butters.” Body butters are a great option for those who want a more intense moisturizer, whereas body lotions are generally more lightweight in texture and preferred for everyday use with ‘normal’ skin.
- Targeted Benefits: Body butters usually have additional ingredients designed to benefit skin in a number of ways, whether that’s collagen to plump skin, CBD to soothe, or colloidal oatmeal to reduce itching, body butters are the perfect vehicle to treat various skin conditions. Body butters have proven beneficial even for traditionally difficult-to-treat issues, like cellulite and stretch marks. You’re also likely to get a more varied and complex list of ingredients that can target several things simultaneously, like dryness and cellulite, all in one tub of cream.
Here are the 15 best body butters, from $6.99 to $180 to hydrate, repair and soothe your skin.
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Susanne Kaufmann Body Butter
Best Body Butter for Dry Skin
- Size: 7 ounces
- Fragrance: Light floral scent
- Special features: Enriched with vitamin E, honey, and whey for deep hydration.
Handcrafted in the Austrian Alps, Susanne Kaufmann’s eponymous label utilizes the rich bounty of botanicals in her own Alpine backyard. For this luxurious body butter, that means rich shea butter, olive oil, whey, honey, and bee pollen — all carefully selected to restore the skin. The rich fatty acids and antioxidants from the shea butter and olive oil soften and hydrate skin, while honey protects and repairs skin cells and the milk protein whey helps skin’s natural healing process. This soothing cream is wonderful for the whole body, but is particularly effective on rough and chapped elbows, knees, and feet.
Supergoop! Body Butter SPF 40
Best Body Butter with SPF
- Size: 5.7 ounces
- Fragrance: Hints of eucalyptus, clove, and vanilla
- Special features: Infused with chemical broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection.
Moisturize and protect the skin with this 2-in-1 body butter from Supergoop! The whipped body butter formula leaves skin soft and hydrated while providing UVA/UVB protection with SPF 40. Plus, the 5.7-ounce squeeze tube makes application much easier than scooping it out from a jar. When you’ve used all the product, take a strong pair of sanitized scissors and cut the container in half horizontally, and then scoop out the product (carefully – those cut edges can be sharp) to use every last drop.
Mutha Body Butter
Best Body Butter for Expecting Mothers
- Size: 5.5 ounces
- Fragrance: Uplifting, subtle notes of citrus
- Special features: Whipped texture with shea, cocoa, and mango butters.
This rich cream is the best body butter for pregnancy and it’s salve-like texture is what inspired founder Hope Smith to start the brand. This whipped trifecta of shea, cocoa, and mango butters deliver intense hydration, but somehow still absorbs instantly. Smith says she specifically developed the body butter to feel lightweight versus traditional body butters, so you could massage it in as often as they’d like. In fact, the brand recommends that pregnant women apply the cream to stretch mark-prone areas several times a day, noting that the more hydrated skin is, the less prone to stretch marks it will be.
Ellis Brooklyn Marvelous CBD Extra Rich Body Lotion Cream
Best CBD Body Butter
- Size: 6.52 ounces
- Fragrance: Fresh scent with notes of pine
- Special features: Loaded with 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD to soothe skin.
CBD has been a buzzword in beauty for years, but what does its inclusion in body butter do? For Shapiro, it meant including 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD in Ellis Brooklyn’s body butter. “I have psoriasis and I also run regularly so I’m always looking for soothing body care and supplements,” she says. “I wrote a story on CBD years ago for The New York Times and I became fascinated with CBD and how full-spectrum CBD, in particular, has all these gorgeous complex cannabinoids that our body’s own cannabinoid system can recognize. It’s a super gentle way of soothing the skin and body.”
CBD in skincare has been shown to reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness, and is especially great for skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. Users have noted how soothing this body butter is for sore muscles, too. “I always have a backup of this since the cream is amazing for my skin but also massaging it in soothes aches and pains,” says one reviewer. “The best CBD product I’ve used and I keep coming back.”
Tata Harper Redefining Body Balm
Best Organic Body Butter
- Size: 6 ounces
- Fragrance: Fresh, floral scent
- Special features: Made from 100 percent natural ingredients.
Formulated, manufactured, and packaged exclusively on her organic farm in Vermont, Tata Harper’s line of skin and body care products features nature’s most progressive ingredients. And this ultra-rich butter includes 27 high-performing botanical ingredients, including shea and cocoa butters, olive oil, rosehip oil, and garcinia indica seed butter (one of the most nutrient-dense butters in nature). It’s also packed with clever moisturizing botanicals as well as rich antioxidants designed to firm and brighten, giving the appearance of youthful, glowing skin.
Mario Badescu Coconut Body Butter
Best Coconut Body Butter
- Size: 8 ounces
- Fragrance: Light coconut scent
- Special features: Leaves skin with a radiant, glowing sheen.
When slathering on Mario Badescu’s Coconut Body Butter, you’d never guess it’s only $16. This luxurious, freshly scented cream is mega hydrating. Its blend of shea and mango butters, infused with argan, apricot, meadow seed foam, and rosehip oils, melt into skin immediately (like a cream triple its price point). “This body butter is luxuriant,” says one Amazon reviewer. “When you open the seal and smell the coconut it’s easy to picture yourself in some sort of tropical spa, having a pina colada. The lotion goes on so rich and thick, it’s a pleasure to apply. It goes on smoothly with a cooling feel and soaks in quickly, especially if your skin is very dry.”
Asutra Melt Pain Away Magnesium Body Butter
Best Body Butter for Sore Muscles
- Size: 7 ounces
- Fragrance: Fresh lemongrass scent
- Special features: The trio of magnesium, MSM, and warming capsaicin help soothe pain.
Founded by Venus Williams and entrepreneur Stephanie Morimoto, Asutra is on a mission to democratize wellness and make it accessible for those who don’t have lofty budgets or excessive leisure time. This unique body butter was specifically developed by Williams to treat her achy muscles. Its high-octane mix of magnesium, MSM and warming capsaicin will leave muscles nearly pain-free in mere minutes. Plus, the butter has shea and sweet almond oil for a healthy dose of antioxidants and moisture. The brand is also proudly women-owned and women-led, with 60 percent of the staff identifying as a POC.
Dermadoctor Calm Cool + Corrected 1% Colloidal Oatmeal Eczema + Dermatitis Clinical Repair Balm
Best Body Butter for Eczema
- Size: 6 ounces
- Fragrance: Unscented
- Special features: Received the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, meaning its clinically safe for sensitive skin
Dr. Kunin is an OG when it comes to resolving skincare concerns frequently overlooked in the beauty industry, like eczema, which triggered the development of this calming cream. What makes its ganache-like texture so effective is the formula’s one percent colloidal oatmeal and enhanced beta-glucan, which is “an active ingredient to treat the itching, dryness, redness, and uncomfortable symptoms associated with eczema, dermatitis, and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Kunin. “Its triple blend of evening primrose, black currant seed, and borage seed oils further help calm and soothe irritated skin, and can certainly be considered a therapeutic body butter.”
Weleda Skin Food Intensive Skin Nourishment Body Butter
Best Unscented Body Butter
- Size: 5 ounces
- Fragrance: Unscented
- Special features: Contains calendula, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil to strengthen skin
This intense body butter treatment features the same uber-nourishing botanical blend as the brand’s beloved and cult-classic Skin Food. At 101 years old, Weleda has also stood the test of time. Founded in Switzerland in 1921, Weleda was created to celebrate and tap into the power of plants. The body butter includes sunflower oil, pansy extract and calendula to soothe and hydrate sensitive skin. “Smells just as great as the OG Skin Food, but more of a whipped cream version vs the butter version,” says one reviewer.
Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Body Butter
Best Drugstore Body Butter
- Size: 8 ounces
- Fragrance: Warm, cocoa scent
- Special features: A unique blend of micro-petroleum allows the butter to sink into skin effectively.
Formulated with cocoa and shea butter, as well as a special “micro-droplet” blend of vaseline jelly, this Intensive Care Cocoa Body Butter penetrates the skin’s surface layers to moisturize and heal dry skin. It is particularly game-changing for dry and dull skin, according to one reviewer. “I have been using this body butter for over 2 years and my skin has thanked me for it over time,” says one fan. “As someone with a history of skin complications (i.e. eczema) I’ve never used drug-store products that have truly worked as described. My skin is soft, smooth, and truly radiant. I buy every single container on the shelf at Walgreens or CVS when it’s time to restock my collection.”
Melach 33 Silky Shea Body Butter
Best Whipped Body Butter
- Size: 10.2 ounces
- Fragrance: Delicate, fresh scent
- Special features: A satiny-smooth finish that leaves skin impossibly soft
Dead Sea minerals make up the formula’s second ingredient, which may sound counter-intuitive to achieve moisturized skin, but its intentional. Melach 33 founder Jennifer McClure discovered the Dead Sea’s amazing skincare benefits during a trip to Israel. In ancient times, people would travel to the Dead Sea to seek its healing powers and now, we understand why: The 33 percent salt content produces mineral-rich crystals, which are the same minerals that help our body detox and regenerate cells. The salts also contain 21 essential minerals that the human body depends on — and 12 of them are found in the Dead Sea. The entire product line contains these beneficial Dead Sea salts, along with antioxidant-rich botanicals and desert oils, but the creamy body butter wraps skin in silky hydration.
Bliss Texture Takedown Skin Smoothing Body Butter
Best Body Butter for Glowing Skin
- Size: 6.7 ounces
- Fragrance: Light (but many users note the scent due to the AHA can be hit or miss)
- Special features: Specifically designed to gently reduce rough, bumpy skin.
Do you have small, scaly bumps along your arms, thighs, or butt? You might have a very common condition called keratosis pilaris, or KP, and one of the only ways to treat this innocent but annoying condition is with medicated creams, like this 10 percent AHA body butter from Bliss. The blend gently softens rough, bumpy skin, including KP, to bring soft, healthy-looking skin to the surface. The butter delivers full-body exfoliation without any harsh scrubbing, thanks to its formula powered by glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids.
This cream is a great option for those who don’t have KP, but still suffer from dry, cracked skin in their elbows, knees, or feet. “Shea butter and squalane provide emollient benefits, smoothing the surface of the skin and filling in cracks between skin cells,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. “A blend of hydroxy acids offer chemical exfoliation, dissolving connections between dead cells so they more easily can be shed from the skin.”
Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Elasti-Cream
Best Scented Body Butter
- Size: 8.1 ounces
- Fragrance: Sweet, musky scent
- Special features: Designed to boost skin elasticity, giving it a more plump and healthy appearance.
This Brazilian brand is known for its scented body creams — and this brand new, collagen-rich body cream has a whole new fragrance. You’ll find that almost all the comments and reviews are dedicated to the cream’s scent — either loving or hating it. Test it out first to see which camp you fall under.
Beyond the scent, this formula is intended for daily use to boost skin’s elasticity, leaving it visibly plump, deeply replenished and velvety-soft. Cacay oil, a gentle retinol alternative, and plant-based collagen support cell turnover.
Augustinus Bader The Body Cream
Best Science-Backed Body Butter
- Size: 6.7 ounces
- Fragrance: Unscented
- Special features: Includes the brand’s patented Trigger Factor Complex to target cellulite, fine lines, and stretch marks.
By now you’ve probably heard plenty of enthusiastic reviews for Augustinus Bader and the brand’s patented TFC8. The Trigger Factor Complex helps support cellular renewal and guides key ingredients to the skin cells for quicker repair and recovery. TFC8 also works to improve skin tone and texture, as well as promote a healthier barrier function for plumper-looking skin. But most impressively, the brand has seen improvements in two traditionally stubborn categories: cellulite and stretch marks. In fact, 92 percent of users noted an improvement in the appearance of their cellulite.
Osea Undaria Algae Body Butter
Best Hydrating Body Butter
- Size: 6.7 ounces
- Fragrance: Uplifting grapefruit, lime, and cypress with hints of mango mandarin
- Special features: Handmade in Malibu by the family-owned brand
Created by one of the most passionate family-owned brands around, Osea’s Undaria Algae Body Butter is a product of love. Handcrafted in Malibu, the brand has been harnessing the natural wonders of Mother Nature since 1996. That includes seaweed from the Pacific Ocean right outside of their workshop, along with whipped shea butter and ceramides for a butter that the skin will drink up.
Seaweed is particularly beneficial for skin because it “is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, nutrients, vitamins to support the skin’s moisture barrier and help keep skin looking healthy by fighting free radicals,” explains Jenefer Palmer, the founder of Osea. “It’s luxurious and dense, but sinks right in without a greasy feel.” But don’t just take her word for it: It’s clinically proven to hydrate for 72 hours and in a four-week, third-party consumer-perception study, 100 percent of users said their skin felt softer and 97 percent said skin looked less crepey.
“This butter balm is AMAZING, hands down,” says one reviewer. “Instant, intense hydration without an oily feeling afterwards or just sitting on top.”
The Best Way to Apply Body Butter
Now that you’re an expert in all things body butter, learn how to properly and effectively slather on thick creams. However, it should be noted that there’s technically no wrong way to apply creams, just more efficient methods to make the most out of your butters.
- Right Out of the Shower: Nearly every single expert interviewed suggested applying body butters to damp skin right out of the shower. You can usually just dab off with a towel quickly and then rub in the cream. Or don’t use a towel at all and immediately get to it. Damp skin is crucial here. “Right out of the shower and on damp skin is always best, as you can lock in moisture with the body butter,” says Shapiro. “I’m personally a nighttime shower kind of person, so I do love to slather it on before bed. Our skin heals at night and it’s just a terrific way of feeding and nourishing our skin.”
- Mid-Day Application: For those wanting more TLC, a mid-day reapplication could be useful to you, especially if there’s a skin concern you’d like to target. Pro tip: Apply a body butter to feet at bedtime to let it soak in overnight to soften the area’s tough skin.
Meet the Experts
- Dr. Audrey Kunin is a board-certified dermatologist, Dermadoctor founder, and Chief Product Officer at NovaBay Pharmaceuticals. A trailblazer in the industry, Dermadoctor has been producing skin-soothing products since 1998.
- Hope Smith is the founder and CEO of Mutha. As the name of the brand hints, Mutha was created by Smith when she was pregnant and looking for solutions to ease her changing body and skin.
- Jenefer Palmer is the founder of California-based skin and body care brand, Osea.
- Bee Shapiro is the founder of Ellis Brooklyn and a New York Times columnist. She launched the brand in 2015 after she had trouble finding sophisticated clean options within the fragrance category.
- Dr. Shereene Idriss is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of her eponymous practice, Idriss Dermatology, in New York. She’s also the creator of the popular #Pillowtalkderm series on Instagram, where she answers users’ questions about everything from sunscreen basics to pregnancy-safe skincare.
- Dr. Joshua Zeichner is a board-certified dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. His Instagram series #SkincareFromAtoDrZ helps to demystify beauty basics from retinol to skin slugging.
Meet the Author
Kristin Limoges is a New York-based beauty and wellness freelance editor. Previously, she created the beauty and wellness vertical for Domino where she served as the lifestyle editor for both print and digital content. In addition to all things beauty, she also covers travel and fitness. She can usually be found hair masking, face masking, and body masking simultaneously in her Chinatown apartment.