Lotion, Cream or Body Butter – Which is Best for Dry Winter Skin?

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Winter is upon us, and you know what that means… Dry, cracked, itchy, irritated skin. But you don’t have to let the cold, blustery weather win! Moisturize and protect your epidermis from the elements with thick lotions and heavy creams, including body butters.

Woman's Manicured Hands Opening Small Jar of Lotion vs Cream on Wooden Table | Vitacost.com.blog

The difference between cream and lotion 

Not sure how body creams and lotions differ from each other, or which dry skin solution is your best bet this winter? Well, we’ve got you (and your scaly skin) completely covered!

Both lotions and creams are basically composed of oil and water. Lotions have a higher percentage of water whereas body creams have a higher percentage of oil. Body butter, which is often classified as a type of body cream, boasts the thickest formulation of them all with even less water and more oil, as well as nourishing butters, such as shea, cacao and mango butter.


    • Typically sold in bottles
    • Generally lightest, least greasy and most easily absorbed into skin
    • Recommended for individuals with normal to dry skin
    • Ideal for use during the day


    • Often sold in jars
    • Generally thicker and heavier than lotions
    • Provide an intensely hydrating barrier
    • Recommended for individuals with normal to very dry skin
    • Ideal for nighttime use

Dry skin tips

Want healthy, hydrated skin that withstands intense indoor heat and harsh wintry winds? Following are several simple tips for using body lotions and creams and caring for your skin during colder weather:

  • Use a humidifier, if possible, to keep skin soft and properly hydrated
  • Avoid bathing/showering with hot water, which can cause skin to become dry(er)
  • Limit baths and showers to 10 minutes a day
  • Avoid use of washcloths, scrub brushes and bath sponges
  • Apply body lotion or cream immediately after bathing/showering to lock in moisture
  • Apply extra cream or lotion to super-dry areas, like the knees and elbows

Top product picks

Ready to add lotion or body cream to your daily routine? Check out some of our favorite finds:

Aveeno Positively Nourishing™ Lavender + Chamomile Calming Body Lotion

This fragrant lotion soothes the senses while providing long lasting moisture. Plus, it contains ACTIVE NATURALS® Colloidal Oatmeal, “the natural ingredient most recommended by dermatologists to maintain healthy looking skin.”

Aveeno Positively Nourishing™ Calming Body Lotion Lavender + Chamomile | Vitacost.com/blog Shikai Vanilla Moisturizing Hand and Body Lotion

Give your skin the extra moisturizing power it deserves with this must-try lotion. Its cruelty-free formula is “rich in aloe, borage and shea butter” for deep hydration that lasts throughout the day.

Shikai Moisturizing Hand and Body Lotion Vanilla | Vitacost.com/blog

Tierra Mia Organics Lemon Verbena Face & Body Cream 

Boasting a pleasant citrus scent, this nourishing goat’s milk body cream is “rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acids, which exfoliate and soften skin, aiding in cellular renewal.” And did we mention that it’s gentle enough for use on sensitive or acne-prone skin?Tierra Mia Organics Face & Body Cream Lemon Verbena | Vitacost.com/blog

Alba Botanica® Kukui Nut Hawaiian Body Cream

This quick absorbing cream blends “vanilla, cucumber and arnica extracts, with oils of kukui, macadamia and safflower plus shea and cocoa butters” to deeply penetrate and moisturize the skin. It’s hypoallergenic, 100% vegetarian and compatible with all skin types.

Alba Botanica® Hawaiian Body Cream Kukui Nut | Vitacost.com/blog

Andalou Naturals Kukui Cocoa Nourishing Body Butter 

Protect and pamper your skin with this emollient all-over body butter. Formulated using Fruit Stem Cell Science®, it’s rich in antioxidants and free of gluten and GMOs.

Andalou Naturals Nourishing Body Butter Kukui Cocoa  | Vitacost.com/blog Pacifica Island Vanilla™ Body Butter with Shea & Mango Butters

This body butter boasts a “beautifully sophisticated, exotic blend of Tahitian vanilla, loved for its fruity and slightly floral aroma, anchored with creamy, satisfying rich Bourbon vanilla.” It’s highly effective—even for those with super-dry skin—and contains no animal ingredients, mineral oil, parabens, peanut oil, petroleum or phthalates.

Pacifica Body Butter Island Vanilla™ with Shea & Mango Butters | Vitacost.com/blog