Understanding Body Butters and How to Use Them in Skincare

Ahhh, butter. Sweet butter. Creamy, delicious, and nutritious, it is perfect for spreading on… your body! Glorious raw pasture butter is not our topic of conversation today, but although I DO love that kind of butter, that will need to be a completely different post for some other time :).

Today we are delving into understanding body butters; Discussing the different kinds, what they do, how they feel, and how to best use them!

Using body butters are one of the best way to nourish your skin, from the inside out. For those looking for a really minimalist skincare routine, you can really use just a single body butter (depending on what kind you are using…some lend themselves to be used by themselves while some need to be combined with others butters, oils or other ingredients to be applied easily). Most will require more effort to rub in than a typical skin cream, but it’s totally worth it and since butters don’t contain water they do not dry out your skin, or require preservatives to stop spoilage.

It’s really a win/win situation. Plus they have a myriad of uses: hand, foot and face care, cuticle softening, dry skincare, massage, all over skincare and softening, and even makeup removal.

Different butters will benefit different skin types, and there truly is a body butter, or combination of, to suit pretty much any need.

These delicious butters melt upon contact, are absorbed quickly, and are amazingly hydrating and beneficial to our skin. If you are using butters in cosmetic creations such as lip balms, soaps, creams and hair care you will want to make sure that you know the major players out there; what kind of texture they have, what kind of benefits they have due to their antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids and even their spf factor.

I have got you covered in my discussions below on the seven major natural butters available. I have split these into two categories: the first being butters that I have on-hand and have used (either singly or in a recipe), and the second being the more exotic butters that I plan to own, use, and love some day!

My On-Hand Butters

Cacao (or cocoa) butter – Cacao (or cocoa) butter is an edible fat obtained from the cacao bean pod. One of the most popular and well known body butters, it is naturally high in vitamin E to help hydrate and soothe skin, and contains natural antioxidants. Because it is a fantastic thickening agent you will often find cocoa butter in lipsticks, lip balms, soaps and creams. It helps to create an amazing whipped body butter.

The texture tends to be creamy and yellowish in color and it has a heavenly light chocolate scent and feels delicious on your skin. As always be aware of where you are purchasing from, but a high quality cocoa butter will be suitable for both cosmetic and culinary uses. There will naturally be little pieces of sediment that will appear on the surface once melted. If that is something you do not want in the overall texture of your recipe, you’ll want to strain thoroughly prior to combining with your other ingredients.

I used cocoa butter to help combat my stretch marks from my twin pregnancy (aka A LOT of stretch marks!), and I am going to bet most women equate this butter with stretch mark and scar relief. Shelf life: 2 years

Shea butter – Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. Another one of the most popular and well known body butters, shea butter is high in vitamins a, e and f, provides collagen (to assist prevention of skin aging & wrinkles), and contains essential fatty acids. Unrefined shea butter will have a noticeable nutty aroma with a creamy faintly yellowish color. You can apply this directly to your skin, or choose to combine it with other ingredients in a skincare recipe.

This is an “intense” moisturizer, and I was blown away to discover you can even use this on your scalp for dry skin! Another awesome fact about shea butter is that is has a natural SPF factor (of about 6) so it is a natural choice to incorporate into homemade sunscreen recipe. And, like other butters, it forms 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.

I have found that I really like to apply straight shea butter to the sides and soles of my feet in the summertime, especially after a trip to the beach. Sand and water have an extremely drying effect on my feet, to the point they will start to peel from dryness if I let it get to that point. So, I just don’t let that happen anymore. I slather on the shea butter and put socks on for a little while (or sometimes overnight), and it keeps my feet soft and moisturized. Shelf life: 1 year

Mango butter – Mango butter comes from the kernals of the tropical mango tree. The texture and composition resembles shea and cocoa butter yet it contains more fatty acids making it a more intense moisturizer. This butter provides skin softness, soothing and moisturizing properties, and is a natural emollient. Mango butter tends to be rich, white in color with a mildly sweet scent and is hard at room temperature.

Due to it’s texture it’s best to combine it with other butters or oils to make it more pliable for use on the skin, or if you are choosing to use it by itself it is best to warm and melt it a bit. Of the butters that I have and use, this is one of my newer ones so I have not yet played around with it in recipes yet. But I will say that I was recently given a lip balm made from mango butter which has become one of my favorite lip moisturizers. I have also read that you can melt it down and add it to your favorite hair conditioner to get extra moisture (this is something I need living in a dry climate in the Northeast US), which I plan to experiment with soon. Eek! So exciting! I love experiments. For now, I have been pleased with using it on my legs after shaving as a moisturizer as-is (it goes on easy in a warm bathroom, on warm, and moist skin). Shelf life: 2 years

Kokum Butter – Kokum butter comes from the Garcinia tree. This is a highly prized and healing butter that can help revitalize skin cells while supporting elasticity and flexibility. It is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin e, and is non-comedogenic (meaning, it won’t clog your pores), making it a perfect choice for dry, cracked, rough, damaged and calloused skin.

Like cocoa butter it has a uniform triglyceride composition, so one can be easily substituted for the other in skincare recipes. Kokum is naturally a very dry and hard butter; it will appear flaky and cracked, although it will melt upon contact with skin. It is best to use this butter in combination with other oils and/or butters to make it more pliable and easy to use. Note: Anyone with a nut allergy should not use this product. This one is my absolute newest butter. I am excited to start incorporating it into recipes. Shelf life: 1 year

Coconut Oil – Now, the only reason I bring this up here is simply because every time I have researched butters, coconut oil inevitably comes up on the list. Although coconut oil is not an butter, it is a carrier oil. This is a go-to oil that you will find yourself using in many DIY skincare recipes, combining it with various butters mentioned here.

My Wish-List Butters

Shorea (Sal) Butter -- This butter is extracted from the seeds of the Shorea Robusta tree native to India. It has little scent, is off-white in color and is naturally pliable, making it a great choice for skincare creations. It can be used to treat both dry skin and damaged hair. Sal butter has similar properties to cocoa butter, and will soften and spread easily on skin. It’s composition makes it a great choice to use to stabilize formulations. Shelf life: 2 years

Cupuacu Butter – Cupuacu Butter comes from a cupuacu fruit tree of the chocolate family, native to the northern Amazon. This sounds like an amazing butter, incredibly creamy and hydrophpllic (which means it has a great ability to retain water and prevent moisture loss), boosting both your skin and your hair’s natural moisture. It has an earthy cocoa scent and contains high levels of fatty acids. Due to it’s texture it can be used by itself for skincare needs. Shelf life: 2 years

Illipe Butter – Illipe butter comes from the Illipe tree in the forest of Borneo in the South Pacific.This exotic butter is extremely moisturizing and can restore elasticity to hair and skin, and is perfect for treating dry or overly processed hair. It doesn’t have a strong scent and is has a harder consistency, so it is great for use in cosmetics and soaps and well as skincare items that you want to holds it’s shape easily. Shelf life: 1-2 years

So there you have it. Details on the different major body butters and what they can do to benefit your skin and hair.

Which of these butters have you used before? Do you have a favorite? And has this post inspired you to try something new?

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