Are you looking for a go-to product to achieve moisturized, smoother skin throughout the year? Both body oil and lotion can give you desired results.
While some people prefer using body oil to nourish their skin, others believe that body lotion does it best. However, knowing their differences can help you determine what best suits your skin.
In this article, we help you choose between body oil and lotion by charting out their differences, usage, suitability and more. Let's begin!
Is Body Oil The Same As Lotion?
Not at all! Body oil and body lotion are two completely different skin care products – structurally and functionally. Though the primary purpose of both of them is to moisturize the skin, there are several other factors to consider. Body oil is usually made up of natural oils (nuts or vegetables) that can restore moisture in the skin.
Body lotion, on the other hand, is either a water-in-oil or oil-in-water based solution that helps to lock in moisture on the outer layer of your skin.
Body Oil Vs. Lotion: Key Differences
What Is Body Oil?
Body oil is made up of oils (either individual or a combination of oils), primarily used to moisturize and nourish your skin's outer layer. It forms a protective barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss.
What Is Body Lotion?
The body lotion is a lightweight blend of water, oil and emulsifiers, formulated to soothe, hydrate and rejuvenate the upper layers of your skin. A body lotion can lock in moisture and also absorb water from elsewhere to keep your skin soft, smooth and hydrated.
Body oil is mainly made of oils of different origins (such as nuts oil, seeds oil, vegetable oil, and essential oil). There is no added water, emulsifiers, or preservatives to sustain. However, some body oil may contain antioxidants, vitamin A and E or essential oils, and beneficial plant extract to improve their quality, prevent spoilage and increase their shelf life. Added essential oil helps to enhance the fragrance of body oil.
The body lotion is mainly a combination of water, oils and emulsifiers. However, they also contain:
- Emollients  (such as cetyl esters, glyceryl dilaurate, lanolin oil, etc.) help to maintain soft, smooth skin
- Preservatives  (such as alcohol denat., benzyl alcohol, chlorphenesin, etc.) help to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes
- Occlusives (such as lanolin oil, dimethicone, etc.) help to prevent moisture evaporation from your skin surface
- pH Adjusters (such as sodium hydroxide)
- Humectants  (such as glycerin) that help in drawing in and binding moisture
Various ingredients come under the above categories, and cosmetic manufacturers formulate body lotions with different ingredients from these categories.
3.How To Use?
It is advisable to apply body oil on properly cleaned and damp skin. After a bath, pat dry your skin, leaving it damp and immediately use the body oil of your choice. The application of oil creates a barrier layer on your skin that helps to retain moisture in your skin.
You can massage the lotion until it gets fully absorbed into your skin. Besides using it after bath, you can also apply body lotion at any time of the day or even before bedtime.
For best results, use it right after taking a shower when your skin is damp.
- Hydrate your skin: An oil massage helps to improve your skin’s barrier function and prevents the evaporation of natural moisture, thus keeping it hydrated.
- Reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars:Body oils are absorbed by your skin and provide a smooth and moisturized effect that helps to reduce the appearance of scars. Repeated use of body oil on your stretch marks can help minimize them. Oil massage can also brighten your skin, manage dullness and roughness, and provide a natural-looking glow.
- Regulate sebum production:Some vegetable oils such as jojoba, olive, coconut, almond, etc. are widely used as body oils. These oils are famous for their absorbent properties. They can mimic the natural lipids formed in your skin as they penetrate. This structural similarity can help to repair and regulate your skin's moisture barrier that influences oil production  as well.
- Keeps your skin soft and hydrated: Regular application of body lotion ensures the proper hydration of your skin and helps to combat issues like dryness, cracking, itchiness, etc. Deep penetration of body lotion restores your skin's lost moisture and keeps it soft and hydrated.
- Body lotion works to smooth the rough areas of your body like elbows, knees, soles of the feet, etc.
- Body lotions with anti-ageing properties can help to slow down ageing signs.
Did You Know?
Lotions with vitamins, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, and ceramides can improve the water-retention ability of your skin.
5. Frequency Of Usage
Daily massage with body oil can provide you best results. Otherwise, twice or thrice a week can be beneficial as well.
You can apply body lotion as often as you like. But usually, once a day is sufficient.
6.Why Do You Need Body Oil Or Lotion?
Moisturizing your skin is the main purpose of both body oil and lotion. So, you can choose a body oil or lotion to hydrate your skin depending on your skin type and specific needs. Body oil is the best fit for dry skin whereas a body lotion can be suitable for all skin types. You need to pick the right one based on its formulation and ingredients.
Depending on the different components of a body lotion, it can improve your skin barrier and elasticity and help to minimize issues like dryness, cellulite, eczema, keratosis pilaris etc.
7.Who Can Use Body Oil Or Lotion?
Usually, body oil and lotion are safe to be used by all. However, if you have sensitive skin, allergies, or any skin disease, it is wise to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional before using either of the skincare products.
People with dry skin can get the most from body oil. Body oil is also good for people who live in a place with cold climates.
It's usually suitable for all skin types.
When selecting a body lotion or oil, go through the ingredient list on the container and choose one that suits your skin type and needs.
8.When To Use Body Oil Or Lotion?
Both body oil and body lotion provide optimum results when applied to clean and damp skin right after the shower.
It is good to use after a bath.
After bath and before bedtime applying lotion offers the best results. You can also use body lotion anytime when you feel your skin needs hydration.
9.Where to Use?
You can apply body oil or lotion to your entire body except for the face. The skin of your face is far more delicate than your body and needs special care as well.
Take 5 - 10 drops of body oil in your palm, rub it and then apply it to your body. Massage gently until it gets absorbed.
Take an adequate amount of lotion in your palm, rub it to warm up the lotion and massage it onto your body using small, circular motions.
11.Who Shouldn’t Use?
It contains oils. So, it may not be a good option for people with oily or acne-prone skin. Applying body oil can further clog pores and lead to breakouts.
If you are allergic to some food items like almonds, coconut, etc, avoid those oils.
Most body lotions are formulated with multiple ingredients. Some ingredients like chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, etc. can irritate your skin and even worsen existing skin concerns. Check out the formulations before using any lotion.
If you are allergic to certain ingredients in body oil, you may experience redness, itchiness, irritation, and even eruptions.
Allergic reactions with any ingredients can show similar signs to that of body oil.
Body Oil Vs. Lotion: Which One Is Better?
Both body oil and lotion have different purposes and can work for different skin types. They have significant importance in a standard skincare regime. To identify whether a body oil or lotion is good for you, first, you need to
- understand your skin type and desired goals to achieve
- consider if any existing skin issue is there
- what are your expectations from the product
Body oils are well-suited for dry to extremely dry skin. They can help repair your skin barrier and can help to prevent moisture loss even in the winter season and in places with cold climates.
Lotions are more versatile moisturizing solutions and can be used by anyone. When you have dry skin, a water-in-oil based lotion is good for you. But for normal to oily skin, an oil-in-water based lotion works best. Being lightweight, body lotions can also be used in a hot and humid climate.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a body lotion is the best option when you experience seasonal dryness.
What Is Common In Body Oil & Body Lotion?
Both body oil and lotion help to keep your skin hydrated. They both work to keep your skin moisturized. However, which one you choose completely depends on your skin type and needs.
Both body oil and lotion mainly serve one common purpose — keeping your skin moisturized. While body oil is a thicker product that helps create a barrier on the outer layer of your skin and prevents moisture evaporation, body lotion is a lightweight formula that helps to soothe and soften your dry skin. Both come with different compositions and are designed to serve different skin types. Narrow down your needs and concerns to choose the best one for your skin.
1. Use of emollients in dry-skin conditions: consensus statement, First published: 21 March 2013,
2. Chapter 9 - Preservatives in Cosmetics: Regulatory Aspects and Analytical Methods, Available online 5 January 2018,
3. Humectants, First Published: 2002,
4. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils, Published: 27 December 2017,
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