Body balms and butters are often conflated in the mind of many folks since they seem to be quite similar at first glance. Both are packed full of nourishing vitamins and minerals that your skin can use to stay healthy and look great over the long-term. Both are also well known for their moisturizing effects.
Still, a few key things distinguish these products from one another. Let’s break down the key differences between body balms and butters now.
Balms and Butters – Both Anhydrous Products
Both balms and butters are so-called “anhydrous” – this means that they don’t contain any water and it’s this feature that distinguishes them from creams and lotions. In fact, butters, balms, and salves are closer to each other than any of those thinner products.
Still, balms and butters are both used for topical or skin-based treatments. This means you aren’t supposed to consume them. Instead, they provide passive benefits to the skin when your skin’s cells absorb their nutrients and vitamins.
Beeswax and Butter – The Difference Makers
The big difference between body balms and butters are their primary ingredients.
Both balms and butters will include plenty of vegetable, nut, and seed oils, alongside other helpful vitamins and minerals that can provide helpful boosts to your skin's health and cellular turnover rate. However, although both make liberal use of beeswax, balms use much more beeswax than butters.
Beeswax is one of the best natural ingredients to use in any herbal or topical remedy. Not only is beeswax smooth to the touch and thus operates as a great mixing ingredient for combining other minerals and nourishing elements, but it also provides healthy boosts of its own.
In addition to these aspects, beeswax creates a protective layer over your skin that can seal in moisture and prevent your skin from drying out. Plus, beeswax can slough away dead skin cells, clearing the way for younger and healthier looking cells to take their place.
Meanwhile, body butters (any kind of butter product) necessarily use one or more natural butters in their ingredient compositions. One of the most common of these is shea butter: an ancient and natural ingredient that’s been used for thousands of years.
It was originally used as far away as West Africa and the butter is harvested from the shea tree. The butter is particularly rich in various fatty acids and vitamins, so it’s excellent for nourishing the skin and changing the texture of any skin-use product.
Body Balm and Butter Benefits
The two products are ultimately quite similar at the end of the day. Both body balms and butters provide your skin with vital nutrients and nourishing elements that it can use to:
- Repair itself more quickly from any injury
- Produce healthy skin cells to replace dead skin cells more readily
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkle lines or blemishes – body butters and balms are excellent products if you have lots of dark spots on your skin, for instance
- Soothe the skin and relieve irritation. These products are even helpful for long-term skin conditions like eczema
Suki Skincare’s Ultra-Protect Body Balm is a perfect example of one of these products. It’s made with natural ingredients that are perfect for sensitive skin, and it can soothe and calm your skin if it’s irritated or inflamed. It’s also ideal for the skin all across your body, including your lips and eyes.
Body Balm and Butter Differences
But although both products can provide numerous benefits to your skin, there are a few main differences. These mostly have to do with texture and moisturization.
Because body butters contain natural ingredients like cocoa and shea butter, they’re naturally a little more moisturizing and protective against your skin drying out. Those ingredients are called occlusives – in short, it just means that they create a barrier that prevents moisture loss, even if the surrounding areas are exceptionally dry.
This results in a different texture you can feel immediately. Rub the butter onto your skin and the process will be easy, gentle, and very quick, even if you only use a little bit of butter for an entire section of your body.
Meanwhile, body balms are a little thicker and use more beeswax. This creates a waxy or texture that can still be rubbed into your skin thanks to the seed and vegetable oils included in its composition.
Which is Better: Body Balms or Body Butters?
Overall, body balms and butters are excellent picks if you want to revitalize the skin all around your body and give it additional nourishment. Both can also be good choices if you want to stop your skin from drying out over the course of the day, or if the winter months are rolling around and you’ve noticed that your hands are becoming drier and cracked more often.
This being said, there are better situations for both products.
- Body butters are better if you have exceptionally dry or sensitive skin. This is just because it’s easier to rub butter across sensitive and cracked skin with less product compared to body balms. The smoother texture and better moisturization capabilities of butters make them a better pick for this circumstance.
- On the flipside, balms are ideal if you have oily skin and don’t want to exacerbate the issue. While body butters might not be bad if you have combination skin, those with overly oily skin might feel slimy or sticky if they rub a body butter everywhere. Body balms are less likely to create the same effect while still providing excellent nourishing boosts.
The main difference, therefore, between body balms and body butters lies in texture and moisturization effects. Both products are quite similar and most folks will be just fine picking one or the other since most people tend to have combination skin.
But keep their niche uses in mind in case your skin tends to be drier or oilier than average. Both products can provide real benefits and make you feel a lot better, but only if you use them as intended.