When you emerge from your morning shower or a delicious relaxing soak in the bath, the final step in your skincare regime is to apply a body moisturizer. Moisturizing helps to improve the texture and smooth appearance of your skin, as well as helping it to feel more supple and elastic.
But what is actually the difference between body cream and body lotion? What about the other types of body moisturizers, such as milks, butters, and oils? With so many options to choose from, how do you decide which one is right for you? Let’s look at the qualities of each type of hydration.
The basic components of body creams are a mixture of oil and water in a ratio of about 50/50. Creams have a heavier consistency than body lotions and seal in moisture for longer. Perfumed creams will keep their fragrance for a longer time than lotions.
Due to their oil content, they can feel greasy, but the advantage is that this creates a barrier, so the skin stays hydrated over a longer time. If your skin feels very dry, creams are a great choice to restore its suppleness and smooth texture. They can also help to prevent dry skin from cracking in harsh weather, especially on your hands, feet, and legs. A word of caution, due to their high oil-content, body creams should not be used as a substitute for face cream.
Consider using body creams if your skin is very dry, and during the winter months. Apply as often as needed, and as much as your skin can absorb easily and quickly.
Body lotions are also composed of oil and water, but as lotions contain a higher proportion of water than body creams they feel less greasy. Lighter than body creams, they are absorbed quickly and easily by the skin. Any fragrance will fade quite quickly, so if you are going to apply your favorite perfume or eau de toilette afterward, they won’t clash.
They are the perfect choice when you want your skin to feel smoother and silkier. In the warm summer months when you want a quick way for your skin to look its best, a body lotion is ideal.
Body milks fall somewhere between creams and lotions in terms of their composition. Richer than body lotions, they still contain a lower percentage of oils than body creams. They provide effective hydration, and as you massage them into clean dry skin, are rapidly absorbed.
Look out for body milks containing natural oils, such as argan oil, as these contain important nutrients for the skin, such as omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. Due to these, body milks are particularly effective in nourishing areas that tend to become dry, such as hands, lower legs, and feet.
Body oils are highly moisturizing and will be thirstily absorbed if you have dry skin. Choose natural options that are similar to the oils your body produces. They are perfect for the winter months as they’ll restore and rejuvenate skin that either been hidden from fresh air under layers of clothes, or exposed to harsh, drying weather conditions. For rapid absorption, apply it onto the skin immediately after a soak in a hot bath, or a warm shower, while your pores are still open, and your skin will thank you. In the summer months, a light coating of body oil will enhance the natural healthy glow of your tan.
One note of caution: don’t make the mistake of confusing body oils with essential oils. Essential oils, such as those used in aromatherapy, should never be applied directly onto the skin, unless they have been correctly diluted into a base, or ‘carrier’ oil, such as sweet almond. Although perfectly safe when used correctly, using them without dilution may provoke severe reactions, which could even require medical attention.
Body butter, as the name suggests, is thick, greasy, and ultra-nourishing. Body butters tend to be based on natural ingredients such as shea butter, argan oil, jojoba, or coconut oil. These natural ingredients contain vitamins, fatty acids, and other nutrients to restore the texture and complexion of your skin.
Wonderfully moisturizing, body butters work best when massaged into the skin. They can be very soothing after too much exposure to the sun, and help prevent the skin from drying out and peeling. Despite these benefits, they don’t offer protection against UV rays, so apply sunscreen if you’re going out and exposing your skin after applying body butter.