Many drugstore lotions and butters contain harmful parabens, silicones, synthetic perfumes, mineral oils, and even formaldehyde. Natural body moisturizers, on the other hand, contain nourishing ingredients that improve the health of your skin—and they’re usually a more environmentally friendly option, to boot. Here’s what to look for:
This is the first ingredient to look for on the ingredient label of natural and organic body lotions and butters. It doesn’t contain chemicals known to dry out skin, and it doesn’t clog pores. Shea butter can make skin appear smoother, help heal cracked skin, and reduce premature aging. It acts as a sealant, too, locking in moisture and protecting skin from irritants and extreme weather.
Here’s another ingredient that can create a protective layer on the skin. It’s a humectant, which means that it attracts water to help skin stay hydrated. Beeswax is also a natural exfoliator, ideal for sloughing away dead skin cells.
Nut & Seed Oils
Other key ingredients in natural body lotions and butters include sunflower, safflower, soybean, and hemp oils that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help relieve the symptoms and discomfort of rashes, stretch marks, burns, and bites. And rather than chemical perfumes, essential oils add fragrance and leave your body lightly scented.
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Best Way to Use Lotions & Body Butters
Apply lotions or butters immediately after you do the towel shimmy—when your skin is still damp and you can take advantage of the ambient humidity from the shower or bath. Leave a little moisture on your skin. Rub your hands together to warm up the lotion or butter and then gently press into your skin with slow sweeping motions, focusing on areas that are particularly dry, such as knees and elbows. Allow lotions and butters to absorb before dressing.
1 Cozy up to the warming scent of Desert Essence Spicy Vanilla Chai Hand & Body Lotion. This rich lotion softens and smooths skin with fair-trade organic shea butter, organic jojoba oil, aloe, and sunflower and coconut oils. Antioxidants in black tea leaf extract rejuvenate dry skin. The scent is uplifting and so appropriate for the season.
2 Drench dehydrated skin with Andalou Naturals Kukui Cocoa Nourishing Body Butter. Argan oil, fair-trade shea and cocoa butters, aloe, and sunflower oils nourish, smooth, and soften dry skin. Hawaiian kukui seed oil, evening primrose, and antioxidant berry complex and fruit stem cells help pamper and protect skin’s moisture barrier. Coffee bean and Tahitian vanilla extracts leave skin tropically scented.
3 Reinforce your skin’s natural barrier with NOW Solutions Cocoa Butter Lotion. This lotion with 6 percent cocoa butter and rhodiola extract keeps skin hydrated to counteract dry, cold, windy, or over-conditioned air. Aloe and allantoin (naturally found in the root of the comfrey plant) soothe minor skin irritations. Almond oil helps draw and keep moisture in the skin, preventing dryness. Natural French vanilla leaves skin smelling sweet.
4 Lock in moisture after a shower or bath with Weleda Skin Food Body Butter. Shea and cocoa seed butter soften skin, while sunflower seed oil retains hydration. The light, whipped texture melts into skin for long-lasting hydration without a greasy feeling. A blend of pansy, calendula, and chamomile leaves skin smelling botanically fresh.
5 Comfort sensitive skin with SheaMoisture Purple Rice Water Velvet Skin Body Lotion. Rice gently exfoliates, as sweet almond, coconut oil, and argan oils, plus fair-trade shea butter and aloe in this creamy moisturizer leave skin feeling velvety soft throughout the winter. Purple orchid and violet extracts are reminiscent of spring.
So which is better—lotion or butter?
Both are moisturizing and can help protect your skin from dryness. Lotions are hydrating without feeling sticky, and absorb quickly. Body butters typically contain a combination of naturally derived shea butter, cocoa butter, or mango butter, so they feel creamy and balmy. They are ideal for very dry skin, especially elbows, hands, legs, and feet. It may take a bit more massaging for body butters to absorb. In winter, a rich lotion or butter moisturizes dry skin better than a lightweight lotion. ■