Best Body Butters

Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for best body butters

Think of body butter as lotion’s richer, more luxurious cousin — and you definitely want it to visit if you’re dealing with dry, dehydrated skin! Usually characterized by a thicker consistency, the best body butters are formulated with ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, and oils including coconut and Argan, each of which are known for their high concentrations of fatty acids and essential vitamins that help your skin soften and retain moisture.

Some formulas are denser than others, but in general, body butter comes in a jar or tub that’s easy to store and use — just stick your fingers in and scoop out what you need. While body butter is an excellent remedy for dryness, you don’t have to save it for winter months. It’s great for daily use to maintain supple skin all year around, and can continue to nourish it even after it’s healed from any skin-related issues.You can also use body butter to nourish your cuticles, soften rough skin on your feet, and in some cases, certain formulas can even remove makeup.

Read on to learn more about all that body butter can do, and check out our top picks when you’re ready to buy one.

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Body butter is ideal for rough patches of skin on the feet, elbows, and knees.

Key considerations

With so many body butters to choose from, it can be difficult to know what to look for when choosing one that meets your needs. Among the considerations you should be looking at? Ingredients, allergens and consistency.


Look for nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, Argan oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or other dry skin-friendly ingredients that help to soften the skin, keep it supple, and lock in moisture. In general, most body butters don’t need fillers or preservatives, as the oils keep the formula fresh. Preservatives to avoid include alcohol, which can be drying to the skin, parabens, because they’re known to disrupt hormone function, and formaldehyde derivatives, as they exacerbate dry skin issues.


Make sure you steer clear of drying agents that can cause more issues for your skin, such as alcohol, which can be drying. You’ve probably heard all the hullabaloo around parabens, phthalates and the like, as in rare cases, they’ve been known to disrupt your nervous system—so avoid products with those ingredients. Synthetic colors are also a good thing to avoid, as they’re often created using coal tar and parabens. Plus, they can irritate skin and cause breakouts.


This boils down to personal preference, but it’s a good idea to get to know what works best for

you and how you like to apply your body butter. Some of the thicker formulas can harden up in cold weather, which means you’ll have to dig it out of the jar and warm it between your hands to get it to be the right consistency to apply to your skin.

If that doesn’t sound like fun, look for body butters that are “whipped” or “souffle.” They have the same good stuff as their thicker, firmer counterparts, they’re just a bit lighter and easier to work with — think like a thick, dense lotion with a firmer consistency that spreads like… well, butter!


Depending on the ingredients, body butter will always have a slight scent to it — for example, those using unrefined shea butter may smell a little smoky, while coconut oil can have a natural hint of that tropical scent to it. That shouldn’t be enough to aggravate those with sensitive noses, but it’s good to know before you stock up. That said, if you have an aversion or strong dislike of scent (or you work somewhere where scent is frowned upon), look for “unscented” or “fragrance free” options that eschew popular perfumey additives.


Some body butters go the extra mile to give you a little something extra. Some feature a shimmery sheen if you want to give your body an all-over glow, even when it’s the dead of winter and the sun’s not around to do it for you.

And don’t discount the benefits of aromatherapy. A little lavender in your body butter can help bring calm in times of stress, while orange and grapefruit are known for inducing happiness. So keep an eye out for body butters that get their scent profiles from one or more essential oils if you’re looking to enhance your mood while you nourish your skin.

Some body butters even have ingredients that help with stiff, painful joints or stretch marks (look for ingredients like CBD or hemp oil).

Body butter features

Now that you know you want to incorporate body butter into your daily self-care routine, you’ll want to educate yourself on what makes a good, high-quality body butter — because they’re not all created equal. Here’s what to look for when you’re choosing the right body butter for you.

Deeply hydrating: The best body butters absorb quickly and not only hydrate thirsty skin, but keep it hydrated throughout the day (and night, if you put it on before bed.) Body butter can also help lock in moisture if you use it after a shower or bath, when your skin has been saturated with water and your pores are open.

Protecting: Good body butters don’t just moisturize, they create a barrier between your skin and the elements, locking in moisture so your skin stays nourished in cold winter months.

Healing: Body butter is also great for skin issues and ailments, such as eczema and psoriasis, and can help with burns while they’re on the mend.

Multi-purpose: Good body butter can be used for more than just moisturizing dry skin. It can be great for softening your cuticles when you’re giving yourself manicures, and wonderful for massages. Some are even great makeup removers.

Body butter prices

Thankfully, body butter doesn’t have an overly wide price range, so you won’t have to spend a fortune on a very effective one you’ll love. In general, you can expect to spend around $15 to $20 for a good-quality body butter.

Inexpensive: Body butters that range in price from $5 to $14 may not have the highest-quality ingredients and could contain fillers that may not be the best for your skin. These are the bargain butters that may not be worth even that small amount of money. Of course, there are some exceptions.

Mid-range: You can expect more from body butters that cost $15 to $25, as they’ll have higher-quality ingredients that are created to work for your skin’s unique needs. Luckily, there’s a wide range of options within this category, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find a body butter that meets your particular requirements.

Expensive: The crème de la crème of body butters checks in at $30 and up and contains top-of-the-line ingredients that deliver exactly what your dry skin needs. Many organic or “clean” formulas fall within this price category, so this may be where you want to look if those considerations are important to you.

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Did you know?
Pregnant women can apply body butter to their stomachs to prevent stretch marks.


  • Hard body butter isn’t unusable. If your body butter is stiff or hard to work with, warm it between your hands until it “melts” so it’s easier to spread over your body.

  • Make it work twice as hard. Boost your skin’s ability to retain moisture by putting your body butter on right after you get out of the shower or a bath (plus, warm skin makes it easier to apply).

  • Don’t ditch butters that leave a film. Love the product but hate that it leaves some residue behind? Use an old towel to wipe away the excess after it’s had some time to sink into your skin.

  • Don’t apply it too thick. Remember, a little goes a long way, so you’ll probably need less than you think you do. It’s better to wait and let the first application soak in before deciding you want another layer, than to apply too much and need to reapply altogether.
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Because body butters are thick and often take a while to soak into the skin, use caution as the areas it is applied to may slip on smooth surfaces like tile.


Q. Is body butter greasy or oily like real butter?

A. Some body butters will leave a film or sheen behind, depending on their ingredients – but the good ones will sink into your skin without leaving a trace.

Q Will body butter seep into my clothes?

A. If you put clothing on immediately after buttering up, you may find some transfer of product to what you’re wearing, depending on the ingredients and consistency (and how long it takes the product to sink into your skin). If you’re worried about the product getting into your clothes, give it some time to fully absorb into your skin before you get dressed — and if you find your skin hasn’t sipped it all in by the time you’re ready, you can use an old towel to get rid of the excess (or you may be using too much, so try using less next time.)

Q. Will body butter clog my pores?

A. Everyone’s body is different, so although body butter isn’t known for clogging pores, your skin may react differently if it’s overly sensitive to oils and ingredients like shea butter. You can always do a patch test to see how your skin will react before you put it all over your body. If you’re using it on your face, you’ll want to make sure to use one that is non-comedogenic, which means it’s specially formulated to not clog your pores. If this is an issue you’re concerned with, it’s probably best to use lighter creams over thick body butters.

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