What Is Different Between Cream, Lotion & Butter?

Learn the difference between body butters, lotions and creams before buying your next moisturizer.
Learn the difference between body butters, lotions and creams before buying your next moisturizer. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

With so many moisturizing products on the market, it can be tough to figure out which one is best for you. We all know that body butters, creams and lotions are all meant to hydrate your skin, but figuring out the difference between the three can be a little bit trickier.


Lotion's basic ingredients are water and oil. Generally, lotions are light and non-greasy. Lotions can be used on all skin types and are especially ideal for summertime because the skin can easily absorb them.


The biggest difference between creams and lotions is that creams generally have a thicker consistency than lotions. Creams, like lotions, mostly contain oil and water. Because creams are a little heavier than lotions, they are often used during the winter months when skin is drier and may need a bit more hydration. Those with dry skin types may prefer creams year-round as they tend to be more moisturizing.

Body Butter

Body butters are more highly moisturizing than lotions and creams. They're ideal for those with very dry skin. Body butters can contain different ingredients, but the most common are shea and cocoa butters, which are known for their hydrating powers. Body butters are generally very thick, and create a layer over your skin which helps to prevent the loss of moisture throughout the day.

Read Labels

Though body butters, creams and lotions are technically different, there's nothing to legally stop companies from marketing their moisturizing products as any one of the three. Once you've decided which type of product is right for you, be diligent and read labels. Shea butters, which are often a key ingredient in body butters, contain vitamins A and E, which are known to create healthier skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. However, just because a product is called a "body butter," doesn't mean it's required to contain those vitamins. So before you buy, decide which ingredients are important to you, and make sure to read the label.

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