We all know about the importance of keeping your face moisturized. After all, flaky skin is not cute — and even if your skin is more on the oily side, avoiding moisturization can actually increase oil production and leave you with a slick face in no time. Moreover, with all that care you put on your face, you should make sure that your body gets some TLC, too. This will help you deal not only with weather transitions, but it’ll also make sure your skin stays soft and supple throughout the year.
How Moisture Loss Affects the Skin Barrier
Before we dive into the products themselves, some background on what moisture and, on the opposite end, moisture loss, does to your skin. “The function of the skin is to be a protective barrier of the underlying tissues, protecting the internal organs from infections and irritation,” Birmingham, Atlanta-based board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, explains. “Desiccation and stress disruption of the protective barrier can lead to the increase of transepidermal water loss, and therefore conditions that are associated with skin, dryness, and irritations.”
Who Should Use a Body Butter?
When it comes to the best way to keep your skin hydrated, most dermatologists agree that very dry skin would benefit best from body butter, which Dr. Hartman describes as “a waterless, thicker version of a body lotion.” However, especially during the drier, winter months, anyone could benefit from using a heavier formula.
What Ingredients to Look Out For in Body Butters
Ingredients to look out for are familiar, hydrating powerhouses, Dr. Hartman notes, “such as shea butter, cocoa butter, and oils like coconut and avocado, as well as vitamin E, which softens skin and protects the skin’s moisture barrier.” (Spoiler: you’ll notice that most of the picks listed below will boast shea butter, a rich emollient that heals cracked skin, thanks to a composition that includes vitamins A, E, and F.) Dr. Hartman also adds that it’s best to avoid any ingredients that will dry out the skin, like alcohol or witch hazel.
When and How You Should Use Body Butter in Your Routine
Since there’s very little to no water present in body butters, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Julie E. Russak, MD, says the best time to use one is when you’ve just stepped out of the shower — when your skin is damp. “Pat the skin dry, and while the skin is still moist, apply body butter to all the areas that are rough and dry, including feet, hands, ankles, and elbows,” she says. “This locks in the moisture that has been obtained from the shower decreases trans-epidermal water loss and helps to repair the barrier.”
To find the best body butters for any skin type — dry, sensitive, and everything in between — we spoke to several dermatologists, tried some out ourselves, and looked at products with the best reviews from several popular retailers, both high-end and affordable. Keep reading to learn about 11 body butters that are well worth the hype, induce intense hydration, and will leave your skin feeling amazing during the winter months — and, really, all year long.
Nashville, Tennessee, board-certified dermatologist Michael H. Gold, MD, is a huge fan of Paula’s Choice Ultra-Rich Soothing Body Butter. “It’s very gentle on the skin, and I’m a big fan of the eczema-friendly ingredients in it,” he says. Case in point: this unscented, paraben-free body butter contains a special blend of shea and mango butters for softness, as well as oat extract to calm inflammation.
This Whipped Body Butter is free from 1,300 potentially harmful ingredients that Indie Lee stays away from (including mineral oils, sulfates, and parabens). However, what you will find inside are some rich moisturizers — such as shea butter and marula, bergamot, and jojoba oils — that hydrate and protect skin against environmental stressors.
A budget-friendly find that goes a long way, the Weleda Skin Food Body Butter wins top points from Dr. Gold due to its plant-based skin-care ingredients. It contains a mix of shea butter, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, and pansy extract, which gives this body butter a smooth texture that very easily melts into the skin for full absorption.