The body oil vs. lotion debate seems to be never-ending. While some believe a body oil works the best for the skin, others vouch for a body lotion. So, how do these products differ? Which one to choose? Although they come with unique formulas, their primary function is to keep the skin hydrated. However, the one-size-fits-all approach never goes well for skin care products. That said, a body oil may work better sometimes and a body lotion at other times. Much of the results also depend on your skin type, concerns, and environmental conditions. This article explores the difference between a body oil and a body lotion, their benefits, and how they work. Keep scrolling to read.

Body Oil Vs. Lotion: What Is The Difference?

Body Oil Lotion
What Is It Made Of? Oil Blend of water, oil, and emulsifiers.
How It Works Helps seal the natural moisture and works on your skin’s outer protective barrier. Prevents moisture loss and contains potent active ingredients that nourish your skin. Penetrates your skin and helps moisturize, soothe, and rejuvenate it. The creamy formula helps make your rough areas, such as the elbows, knees, ankles, and soles soft and supple.
When To Apply After a shower (on damp skin) After a shower (on damp skin)
Best Suited For Dry skin All skin types, based on the formulation and ingredients

Note: Even people with oily skin types can try lightweight, non-comedogenic body oils in moderation to reduce the skin’s natural tendency to produce oil. However, be careful about the kind of oil you use if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Now that you know the difference between body oils and lotions, let us find out their benefits in the next section.

Benefits Of Body Oils

1. Hydrate The Skin

Body oils help improve your skin’s barrier function and seal the natural moisture, keeping the skin hydrated. They are absorbed by the skin and have a reparative, moisturizing effect.

2. Regulate Sebum Production

Oils are well known for their absorbent properties. Many plant oils, such as jojoba, olive, coconut, argan, almond, and avocado oils mimic the natural lipids found in your skin. These similarities in structure can help repair the skin barrier responsible for oil production.

3. Even Tone The Skin

Body oils can help reduce the appearance of cellulite, scars, and stretch marks. They also brighten your skin, treat dullness and roughness, and offer a natural-looking glow.

Benefits Of Body Lotions

1. Keep The Skin Soft And Supple

Lotions can combat issues, such as cracking, itchiness, and tight skin, by nourishing the skin with the added moisture it requires. They deeply penerate your skin and help replenish its lost moisture and leave it supple, soft, and hydrated.

2. Provide Long-term Moisturizing Effect

A body lotion helps provide your skin with a generous dose of moisture all day long. After applying body oil, you can top it up with a lotion to keep your skin doubly hydrated. Unlike body oils that work best after a shower on damp skin, you can apply body lotions any time of the day.

3. Contain Nourishing Ingredients

Lotions with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, vitamin E, and ceramides can help enhance the skin’s water-retaining abilities. Certain lotions contain both oil and water, which can prove beneficial for dry skin conditions.

It is also important to know how to apply body oils and lotions to achieve the best results.

How To Apply Body Oil

  • Use a body oil on damp skin right after the shower. This will help lock in the moisture easily. Also, remember that a little amount goes a long way.
  • Add a few drops of body oil to your bath. High-quality plant oils with rose or lavender essential oils can provide deep moisturization and make your bath water smell divine.

How To Apply Body Lotion

It is best to slather your body lotion onto your skin after a shower and massage it in until fully absorbed. You can also add a few drops of body oil to your favorite lotion for extra hydration.

When it comes to body oils or lotions, it would be wrong to say that one is better than the other. Both of these products are excellent at moisturizing your skin. So, which one should you opt for?

Body Oil Vs. Lotion – Which Is The Best?

Both body oils and lotions have their unique formulas, benefits, and uses. Therefore, it is best to keep both around, so you are prepared to treat your skin as per its needs.

Depending on your skin type, concerns,  and climate, use a combination of both body oil and lotion. You can layer body lotion on top of oil, similar to facial oils and moisturizers.

For instance, using only a body lotion during winters might not be hydrating enough for your skin. Hence, include a body oil in your skin care routine to prevent dryness in a cold climate.

Opt for lightweight formulas during the humid, summer months. Stick to an oil or body lotion that absorbs quickly and does not make you sweat. Avoid body oil on eczema-prone and oily skin.

Consider using body oil twice or thrice a week as a deeply nourishing treatment to hydrate and replenish your skin. Use the lotion as a daily moisturizer to help soothe and soften your skin.

We hope the article has helped settle the body oil vs. body lotion debate and helped you understand their differences. If you want to find out which one suits you better, you need to know your skin type, its concerns, and the environmental conditions. You should choose the product based on these factors.

If you still find it difficult to choose the one for you, you should try them both and see how your skin feels. Follow the tips and instructions mentioned in this article while using them. Using these regularly will help you maintain your skin health and improve its texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use body oils instead of lotions?

No, body oils and lotions serve different purposes. Consider your skin type, issues, and seasonal conditions before choosing one over the other.

What goes first – body oil or lotion?

Do not use body oils right before your lotions or creams. Since body oils are heavier, your lotion might not penetrate the skin and work effectively. Hence, layer the oil on top of your body lotion for optimum results.

When should you use body oil?

Ideally, you should use body oil after a shower on damp skin (preferably within three minutes of wiping). It helps lock in water and reduces the chance of moisture loss.

Key Takeaways

  • Though body oil and lotion both help moisturize your skin, their formulations, applications, and usage are different.
  • While body oil is composed of just oils, body lotion may have water, oil, and emulsifiers.
  • Your skin type, concerns, and seasonal changes can help determine which of these moisturizing products would work best for you when.
  • You can either stick to one or use both in combination to nourish and strengthen your skin barrier.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
  2. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review

The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Nisha is a clinical dermatologist and aesthetic physician. She completed her MBBS at Chettinad Hospital & Research Institute and… more