“Body butters” are nutrient-rich fats derived from plant-based sources, such as nuts, seeds, and beans. Using natural body butters is one of the best ways to nourish your skin. Deeply moisturizing and soothing, they absorb into the skin quickly to supply hydration and relief.
Today we are exploring a few of our favorite plant butters, and what their benefits are in skin care, and the benefits of body butter for sensitive skin! We’ll also be looking at a few of our personal favorites: shea butter, mango butter, and cocoa butter.
Body Butter: The Luxury of Melting
The raw ingredients of body butter are fats extracted directly from seeds (or nuts, etc.). They are typically firm or solid at room temperature, but will melt on contact with the skin.
This is the magic that makes them feel so luxurious. If they melted at a cooler temperature, they would behave more like an oil, and the sumptuous feeling of the butter melting on your skin would be lost. And if they melted at a higher temperature, they wouldn’t be able to melt on the skin at all, and would just sit there and make a big mess.
Great for Sensitive Skin
This melty quality is one reason why it’s a good choice to use body butter for sensitive skin. Pure shea butter for instance, is extremely gentle and deeply moisturizing. On it's own, shea butter has a firm texture, that would be harder in a colder room, but if you let it sit in your hands, it will begin to melt and can be spread all over your body. Since the butter naturally melts and can be left to absorb in if needed, you also don’t have to rub and disturb your skin as much as you would with many other products.
If you’re wondering, there is a little bit of crossover between edible butters and body butters, such as cocoa butter. Sometimes, what’s good for the inside of your body is good on the outside too! Most butters, however, typically belong to one world or the other.
Body Butter by Itself, or in a Blend?
For those looking for a really minimalist skincare routine, you can use a body butter for sensitive skin care in a pure form, all by itself—that is, without other ingredients. However, this comes with its own challenge, as pure butters can be difficult to spread, especially in the wintertime or in cold environments when you need moisturization the most. (If you’ve ever tried to work with hard cocoa butter, you know what we mean!)
For that reason, we like body butters blended with other ingredients. Also, using them in a blended, high-quality lotion or cream can help feed your skin other nourishing active ingredients at the same time. Moisturizers are naturally great “carriers” for healthy ingredients, since they absorb into the skin so well.
Blending Helps with Sensitive Skin
Using body butter for sensitive skin gets a lot more effective when you don’t have to worry about problems spreading it on, and it’s very nice to be able to take advantage of other soothing, non-irritating ingredients like eucalyptus or aloe to bring extra relief and resilience to sensitive skin. This is another big reason why we like blends over pure butters.
Body Butter in the Sun
During these sunny summer months, body butters are also a great addition to a healthy summer skin care routine. They form a natural barrier on the skin to keep moisture in, so it’s a great choice to apply either before or after sun exposure to keep your skin moisturized.
Remember that body butters are not a substitute for a good sunscreen! They are partners. The butter hydrates your skin while the sunscreen deals with dangerous solar radiation.
Wondering how to apply these products together? If you use a chemical-based sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and then the body butter, since chemical sunscreens need to absorb into the skin to become active. If you use a mineral-based sunscreen instead—which is what we prefer—apply the body butter first and the sunscreen last, as mineral sunscreens work by forming a physical shield around your skin.
Shea, Cocoa, and Mango: Some of Our Favorite Body Butters
All body butters are different. The “best” one really depends on your needs. Here are three of our all-around favorite choices when it comes to a good body butter for sensitive skin care.
Shea butter is the all-around skin care superstar and workhorse. You’ll find it in many different products, especially moisturizers and creams, and for good reason: Our skin loves it!
Soaps and body washes can contain shea too! Our Dead Sea Spa Body Bar includes shea butter to soften the skin and create a rich, creamy lather to moisturize as you wash! The clays and cleansers in this gentle body bar exfoliate without aggravating the skin, and the shea body butter for sensitive skin is relaxing and soothing—a perfect little slice of the spa right at home.
This delightful butter is extracted from the nut of the shea tree. It’s naturally high in vitamins A, E, and F, and it contains fatty acids and other nutrients that aid in the production of collagen. It has a noble history, with roots in skin care dating all the way back to ancient Egypt, where it was used (and is still used today) to protect skin and hair against the hot, dry climate.
Cocoa (or “cacao”) butter is obtained from the cacao bean pod. Better known as star ingredient in white chocolate, and the source of the butteriness and creaminess in milk and dark chocolates, cocoa butter is also one of the most popular and well-known body butters in the skin care world. It naturally has a light chocolate scent and is also is high in vitamin E to help hydrate and soothe the skin. It’s a great body butter for sensitive skin because it’s so gentle and mild.
This luscious butter has been shown to be effective treating fine lines, stretch marks, and wrinkles. If you have oily skin, you may want to avoid using pure butter, as it might be too rich for your skin to handle. But on dry areas, it’s simply wonderful! Try melting some cocoa butter with a little bit of beeswax, jojoba oil, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make a smooth, hydrating lip balm!
Mango butter comes from the kernels of the mango tree. It is similar to cocoa and shea butter, but contains more fatty acids, making it an even more powerful moisturizer. Some studies have shown that it may also aid in slowing down the degeneration of skin cells.
Mango butter has a slight sweet aroma and provides skin softness, soothing, and moisturization. Like the others, it’s a great body butter for sensitive skin care because it doesn’t inflame or irritate the skin, and doesn’t usually aggravate any existing conditions or sensitivities you may be dealing with.
Body Butters for Better Bodies
Body butters are becoming increasingly popular in the skin care community. If you want rich moisturization, there are no better ingredients to check the label for on your next body product purchase. Be cautious, though! Many lotions advertise shea or cocoa butter as main ingredients, but only contain a small amount in the actual formula. If you want an ultra-rich lotion, make sure that the butters you are looking for are in or close to the top 5 ingredients on the label to ensure you are getting a generous dose!
Our Tranquility Moisturizing Hand Cream is rich in cocoa, mango, and shea butter, and is great to use in the evenings on your hands after a long day in the sun. Another great way to use it is to apply it to the heels and soles of your feet and then wear some fuzzy socks overnight. This allows the cream to sink in completely, and you’ll wake up with soft, nourished feet! This is our favorite thing to do after a day at the beach, where the heat and sand can dry out your feet.
And there you have it! We love a good, nourishing body butter for sensitive skin care, and we hope you have an opportunity to discover or rediscover some of these wonderful ingredients soon.