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Known for their thick, velvety texture, these formulas offer hydration to tackle dryness, stretch marks, and beyond.
Body butters make a compelling case for paying more attention to the skin below your neck and turn it into a ritual you enjoy. Unlike the typical lotions and creams, these formulas tend to be thick and luxurious. That gives them a dual benefit: They’re not only deeply nourishing for skin, but they can also serve as a built-in moment of self care, too.
While more lightweight formulas may be top of mind during certain seasons (and if say, you struggle with body acne), few body-care products can top a body butter if you experience dryness, itchiness, or even skin conditions like eczema. Scroll ahead for the best body butters guaranteed to soften, smooth, and baby your skin.
Best Overall: Osea Undaria Algae Body Butter
What We Love: It absorbs relatively quickly for such a thick formula.
What We Don’t Love: There’s a chance it could pill.
Sheila Farhang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Tucson, AZ, is a fan of Osea’s marine-inspired body-care products—including this body butter. “The ingredients are so clean and I love that it’s formulated with seaweed, antioxidants, and ceramides—in addition to the whipped shea butter,” she says. “Those other ingredients are great to help heal dry skin.”
That ability to offset dryness is what makes New York City board-certified dermatologist Julie Russak, MD, a fan as well. “It provides intense hydration and nourishment, leaving the skin feeling moisturized and smooth,” she says. In fact, it’s clinically proven to hydrate skin for up to 72 hours after applying, so you can slather it on knowing that you’re treating your skin to days (and days) of healthy, happy skin.
Price at time of publish: $56
Key Ingredients: Undaria seaweed, shea butter, ceramides | Scent: Citrus | Size: 6.7 ounces
Best Budget: NIVEA Cocoa Butter Body Cream with Deep Nourishing Serum
What We Love: It’s easy to spread and massage into skin.
What We Don’t Love: The scent is polarizing.
For roughly the same amount as an artisanal drink at your local coffee shop, you can score a whole pound of this cocoa butter-based formula, which offers 48 hours of moisture; that makes it one of the most cost-effective options on this list. Along with cocoa butter and vitamin E—which do much of the heavy lifting in terms of nourishing skin—it contains Nivea's Deep Moisture Serum for an added hydration boost.
Better yet, while this drugstore body lotion feels thick and therefore super-satisfying to apply, it doesn't leave a sticky or tacky residue on skin. The sole drawback is the scent: It's a light, cocoa butter-based fragrance that some people might not love.
Price at time of publish: $7
Key Ingredients: Cocoa butter, vitamin E | Scent: Cocoa butter | Size: 16 ounces
Best for Dry Skin: Moroccanoil Body Butter
What We Love: The scent will elevate your A.M. routine.
What We Don’t Love: You still have to massage it into skin for proper absorption.
Although you might know and love Moroccanoil for its argan oil-based hair formulas, the brand applies the same thinking (and ingredients) to body care. “The body butter is formulated with argan oil and shea butter as well as hyaluronic acid, which pulls in water and plumps up the skin so it can really make the skin look rejuvenated,” says Dr. Farhang. “It also has a whipped texture, which is nice.”
That airy feel is what allows it to sink in so quickly (and sans residue) despite being packed with a heavy-duty blend of shea, cocoa, and mango butters. And the recyclable glass packaging is a nice touch, too.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Argan oil, hyaluronic acid, shea butter | Scent: Moroccanoil signature scent | Size: 6.7 ounces
Best for Eczema: Tatcha Indigo Soothing Body Butter
What We Love: It feels incredibly lightweight for body butter.
What We Don’t Love: Some might find the fragrance to be too strong.
Carmen Castilla, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, NY, is a fan of this blue-tinted body butter. “It absorbs quickly into the skin despite its rich consistency,” she says. “It also contains both squalane and glycerin, which is a great humectant and emollient combination.”
It gets both its color and anti-inflammatory abilities—making it great for the red, itchy skin associated with eczema—from blue Japanese indigo, which has long been loved for its ability to calm irritation and help skin heal. (Don't worry: It won't stain or give skin a blue look once you apply it.) And since it's free of synthetic fragrances, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil, you can slather it on without worry.
Price at time of publish: $47
Key Ingredients: Japanese indigo, squalane, glycerin | Scent: Citrus floral | Size: 0.28 ounces
Best for Aging Skin: Caudalie Vinotherapist Replenishing Vegan Body Butter
What We Love: It can alleviate not just dryness, but the itchiness associated with it.
What We Don’t Love: The scent recently changed, and some people hate it.
This body butter is so good that it has a reputation that precedes it, says Dr. Farhang. “I love that it is formulated with shea butter, grape seed oil and date oil,” she says. Since skin loses its ability to retain moisture with age, this vegan formula—which replenishes the skin barrier to soften and soothe—keeps it hydrated, radiant, and youthful. In fact, it can even alleviate itchiness caused by dry skin.
Dr. Castilla is also a fan. “This is a rich formulation that still works easily into the skin and does not leave a greasy residue—and the fragrance is light,” she says.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, shea butter, date oil | Scent: Light grape | Size: 8.5 ounces
Best for Pregnancy: Mutha Body Butter
What We Love: The brand donates a portion of profits to the International Medical Corps.
What We Don’t Love: The extremely thick formula takes a bit of massaging to work it in.
If the name doesn't give it away, the brand was born when its founder was pregnant and seeking luxury, plant-based beauty products. To that end, this body butter is infused with 100 percent natural-origin ingredients, including shea, cocoa, and mango butters. Inside, you'll also find vitamin A, vitamin E, and fatty acids, which can help comfort and moisturize skin as it stretches during pregnancy.
Bonus: The formula is also clinically proven to improve the discoloration of stretch marks and improve skin firmness. With ingredients like this, you can feel comfortable, if not fully encouraged, to slather it all over your body whether or not you're expecting.
Price at time of publish: $95
Key Ingredients: Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter | Scent: Citrus | Size: 5.5 ounces
Best Whipped: Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter
What We Love: Its smooth, airy texture feels nice to apply.
What We Don’t Love: It might clog pores if you’re prone to body breakouts.
Part of the appeal of body butters is their buttery texture—makes sense. But for those who want the skin-drenching moisture without the weight may want to consider a whipped formula like this airy version, which is formulated to deliver a lightweight feel that absorbs on the spot.
It still delivers the 24 hours of moisture that you'd expect, thanks to a combination of shea butter (an occlusive) and jojoba oil (an emollient), which work in tandem to fortify and protect the skin barrier. That ultimately helps seal in moisture for the long haul, leaving skin soft, smooth, and comfortable.
Price at time of publish: $45
Key Ingredients: Squalane, jojoba oil, shea butter | Scent: Sweet milk and honey | Size: 7.6 oz.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Bliss Naked Body Butter Unscented Moisturizer
What We Love: It offers a great value for the price and amount of product.
What We Don’t Love: It’s a little more lightweight than the average body butter.
Those with reactive skin require a little extra TLC. “For people with sensitive skin, I recommend avoiding body butters with essential oils and heavy fragrances,” says Dr. Castilla. “These ingredients are notorious for causing irritation.” This formula—powered by a combo of shea butter, coconut oil, and sodium hyaluronate (a stable form of hyaluronic acid)—fits the bill. And, unlike other body butters, it comes in a tube, making it easier for travel and more hygienic than a tub.
It locks in moisture for all-day softness, and since it's free of both fragrance and any potentially irritating essential oils, those with sensitive skin can pile it on without worry. It does take a little more time for it to fully sink into skin, but it's a worthwhile trade-off when you consider all the perks.
Price at time of publish: $13
Key Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil, sodium hyaluronate | Scent: None | Size: 6.7 ounces
Best with SPF: Supergoop! Body Butter SPF 40
What We Love: It’s one of very few body butters with SPF.
What We Don’t Love: The formula can separate over time.
While sunscreen lotion is a dime a dozen, a body lotion with sunscreen, and a body butter at that, is more unique—as is the case with this formula. This body butter includes a blend of chemical filters, among them avobenzone and homosalate, to provide broad-spectrum SPF 40 (which, by the way, is higher than the minimum SPF 30 recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology).
For your skin, meanwhile, it includes a blend of antioxidant-packed sea buckthorn oil as well as vitamins A and E, which both nourish skin and boost your defense against free radicals. And it comes in an easy-to-pack, sanitary tube format. The one downside, however, is that the texture just isn't as rich or, well, buttery as other body butters.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Sunscreen filters, sea buckthorn oil | Scent: Eucalyptus | Size: 5.7 ounces
Best Unscented: Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream
What We Love: It may not be hydrating enough for very dry skin types.
What We Don’t Love: It can take some time to fully absorb.
Some people are sensitive to fragrance in skincare products, or simply don’t like it. If that sounds familiar, consider this fragrance-free formula, which doesn’t skimp on the sensorial luxury. “This body butter is a rich cream that absorbs quickly and contains niacinamide to support the skin's moisture barrier,” says Dr. Russak. “It also provides hydration and helps to tone and firm the skin.”
Also in the formula is squalane—which is nearly identical to a lipid, squalene, that’s naturally found in the skin barrier, as well as caffeine, which can help smooth and firm skin texture over time.
Price at time of publish: $30
Key Ingredients: Squalane, caffeine, niacinamide | Scent: None | Size: 6 oz.
Best Drugstore: Weleda Skin Food Body Butter
What We Love: The glass jar is recyclable, and its cardboard packaging is made from recycled material.
What We Don’t Love: It can feel greasy when you first apply it.
This fan-favorite formula is so rich that for many, it works best on hands, elbows, knees, and feet—a.k.a. the areas of the body that typically require the most TLC. And, for a drugstore find, it has a surprisingly luxurious feel, thanks to the glass jar and sustainable packaging. (It also features certifications for sustainable production processes and planet-friendly harvesting of natural ingredients.)
The whipped butter has a base of shea and cocoa butters to soften and smooth skin, and it's formulated without parabens, phthalates, and fragrances (although it does have a light scent). Another key ingredient is calendula, which has anti-inflammatory properties to keep skin comfortable. Together, they offer a great value, especially if you prioritize sustainability, which often comes with a higher price tag.
Price at time of publish: $22
Key Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, beeswax, shea butter | Scent: Citrus | Size: 5 ounces
Best Hydrating: Fenty Skin Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream
What We Love: The oils leave skin glowing.
What We Don’t Love: The refillable can be tricky to install.
Not to be outdone by other body butters, this whipped moisturizer pairs nearly 25 percent botanical butters with not one, not two, but seven oils, including kalahari melon, sorrel, baobab, sunflower, coconut, jojoba, and rice bran. They work not only to seal in moisture for long-lasting hydration, but to leave skin with a radiant (but non-greasy) sheen.
You'll also get glycerin, a humectant, adding up to the moisturizing trifecta of occlusives, emollients, and humectants, making it a winner for anyone dealing with stubborn dryness. While it's now refillable, earning it sustainability points, it can be tricky to fit in the jar.
Price at time of publish: $23
Key Ingredients: Shea butter, baobab oil, glycerin | Scent: Tropical | Size: 6.7 ounces
Best for Stretch Marks: Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter
What We Love: The natural vitamin A offers retinol benefits with less potential for irritation.
What We Don’t Love: It takes time to see results.
While plenty of body butters will claim to treat stretch marks, few actually have the ability to do it. This whipped body lotion with retinol is among the latter. “The two ingredients that can potentially improve stretch marks are hyaluronic acid and retinol,” says Dr. Castilla. While you'll find the usual moisturizing suspects here, such as argan oil, squalane, and shea butter, what sets this formula apart is the pink algae extract. It's packed with beta carotene, which is a natural source of vitamin A, a.k.a. retinol.
While it's not as potent as the real thing, it still offers similar properties—namely, the ability to boost production of collagen and elastin over time. That can give you an advantage if you’re looking to treat or prevent stretch marks, leaving skin smoother and firmer over time.
Price at time of publish: $46
Key Ingredients: Argan oil, pink algae extract | Scent: Vanilla | Size: 8.0 ounces
Best for Cellulite: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream
What We Love: The scent is a crowd-pleaser.
What We Don’t Love: It has a light shimmer, which some might not love.
While no topical skincare formulation can actually make cellulite even disappear—even in-office treatments are hit or miss—certain active ingredients can temporarily improve its appearance.
That’s the case with the caffeine-packed guaraná in this formula, which is specifically included to improve the appearance of the butt (although you can and should use it all over). It helps boost circulation in the skin, alongside a hydrating lineup of coconut oil, açai oil, and cupuaçu butter to deeply nourish.
FYI: While many people love the scent, which leans gourmand, it might not be for everyone, especially if you have a sensitive nose.
Price at time of publish: $48
Key Ingredients: Guaraná, cupuaçu butter, açaí oil | Scent: Warm and sweet | Size: 0.28 fl. ounces
Best Clean: True Botanicals Pure Radiance Body Butter
What We Love: It offers clean, super-safe ingredients.
What We Don’t Love: It’s so thick that it can be hard to scoop.
True Botanicals is known for its ability to formulate clean products without skimping on the luxury feel, and this body butter is no different. It pairs jojoba oil with a blend of kokum and tacuma seed butters, vitamin E, and linoleic acid, which are brimming with fatty acids to bolster the skin barrier, leaving it smooth and supple.
Plus, in keeping with the brand's ethos, the ingredients are Made Safe® Certified, cruelty-free, and vegan—and the formula is free of phthalates, parabens, and mineral oil, just for good measure. It effectively makes dry, crepe-y skin a thing of the past without compromising on the company’s sustainable values.
Price at time of publish: $58
Key Ingredients: Kokum butter, tacuma butter, jojoba oil | Scent: Citrus | Size: 9.4 ounces
What to Keep in Mind
Body butters typically contain some combination of occlusive, emollient, and humectant ingredients. (For the uninitiated: Humectants attract and retain water, emollients smooth and fortify the skin barrier, and occlusives create a seal over the barrier to trap moisture in skin.)
“Body butters commonly include shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil,” says Dr. Castilla. “These ingredients have great occlusive properties that lock moisture into the skin.” Another common ingredient is jojoba oil, she says, which has both emollient and humectant properties. In other words, “it attracts water into the skin but also helps soften and smooth the skin,” she says. Cocoa butter forms the base of Nivea Body Cream, while Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter relies on both jojoba oil and shea butter.
Despite the variety, shea butter tends to be the most common base for body butter—like Osea Undaria Algae Body Butter—and that’s a good thing. “Shea butter is usually used in the creams as it is high in essential fatty acids, which is perfect for moisturization,” Dr. Farhang says. “Shea butter is also a great source of antioxidants, such as vitamins E and A.”
These days, you can find both the traditional thick, rich formulas as well as lighter options. “I've noticed a few products called ‘body butter’ that do not have the traditional rich texture,” says Dr. Castilla. These airy, or whipped, body butters are typically more lightweight, allowing them to sink in more quickly and leave behind less residue — without sacrificing moisture. A mix of oils and butters gives Fenty Skin Butta Drop Refillable Whipped Oil Body Cream its lightweight airy texture.
Your Skin Type
While most people can use a body wash without having to consider their skin type, that’s not the case for body butters. As with the skin on your face, “different skin types have different needs and preferences when it comes to moisturizers,” says Dr. Russak. “For example, people with dry or very dry skin may benefit more from the rich and nourishing texture of body butter, while those with oily or combination skin may prefer lighter lotions or creams.” And, of course, if you’re prone to breakouts on your body, you might want to stick with non-comedogenic formulas, meaning they won’t clog pores. Bliss Naked Body Butter Unscented Moisturizer is fragrance-free and great for reactive skin types.
Also worth keeping in mind is your goal—for instance, whether you’re looking to address stretch marks or cellulite—and manage your expectations accordingly. While “there are no strong research studies to support the use of moisturizing creams to help prevent and treat stretch marks, by giving your skin the optimum hydration and skin barrier, your skin is healthier and more well equipped to handle stretching and healing,” Dr. Farhang. “So I’m all for it, but I also don’t want women to blame themselves for not applying enough cream or spend hundreds of dollars for a cream that markets preventing stretch marks if it only is formulated with moisturizing ingredients, and not anything that renews the skin, stimulates collagen and elastin, et cetera.” Retinol (found in Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter) is one of the few ingredients that can actually help spur collagen production, so that could be worth looking for.
Your Questions, Answered
What is body butter?
Just as the name implies, “body butters are meant to be thick and occlusive, which makes them a great skin product for very dry or mature skin,” says Dr. Castilla. They often contain botanical “butters” derived from shea, cocoa, and mango. Who needs them? Good question: “Body butter is best used during the dry transitional months or whenever the skin feels dry and in need of extra moisture,” says Dr. Russak.
Is body butter better for you than lotion?
Not necessarily. “Whether body butter is better than lotion depends on personal preference and individual needs,” says Dr. Russak. “Body butter is generally thicker and more emollient, providing intense hydration and nourishment to the skin.” For areas of the body that are very dry or rough, it’s your winner. However, she says, “lotions, on the other hand, have a lighter consistency and are easier to spread over larger areas.” For that reason, if your skin leans normal to oily, you may want to stick with these.
In addition to being prone to body acne, “for those who live in very humid or polluted areas, a lighter body butter such as a cream or lotion may be better, since oil and butter concentration isn’t as high,” says Dr. Farhang.
Is it OK to use body butter every day?
If your skin can tolerate it and you don’t have an issue with residue, go for it. “For optimal results, I would recommend applying the body butter right after your shower or bath while your skin is damp—that way it can soak right in,” says Dr. Farhang.
Why Shop With Us
Deanna Pai is a freelance writer and editor who has been covering beauty, health, and wellness for more than a decade. She’s researched and used body butters for years to treat her perennially dry skin. For this story, she interviewed three board-certified dermatologists, including Dr. Sheila Farhang, Dr. Julie Russak, and Dr. Carmen Castilla.
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