Updated: Jul 25, 2020
Marketing and advertising brainwashing has got us confused. Many companies have being using cosmetics and perfumery terminology in a very inaccurate way and have got us all confused. I've been willing to write this post for a long time, specially for those who do like a proper use of the language and want to know what they are buying or what it is supposed they should've been buying. So let's get started with creams:
A cream is a formulation based on a emulsion of water (or water like liquid like a hydrosol) and vegetables fats (oils, and butters) with waxes. The proportions of the 3 elements may vary depending on the consistency you're looking for and the final result. Balm, ointment, lotion, cream, salve, liniment, rub, gel, emollient, unguent, balsam, moisturiser, and pomade refer all to a creamy substance made to restore, protect and or heal the skin.
The main difference between them lies in the making process and the proportions used. We normally use the word balm, balsam, ointment, salve and liniment to the formulations that contain a higher amount of wax and are specifically tailored to treat skin issues as these names suggest us more healing properties than the others.
We refer to lotion, cream, moisturiser, and gel when we talk about formulations that mainly treat common skin conditions. Those subjective differences are ok, fine. But, what happen when we say "body butter"?
Well, there it is the first most common mistake. We've been told than a thick cream equals enriching and deep nourishing. But is that accurate? Unfortunately nope, it is not. Richness, and nourishment rely on the oils and butters properties and not on thickness. By using thickener agents, most of the big companies make the well known "body butters" that in reality are as moisturising, and enriching as any other light body lotion, body cream or body moisturiser.
A true body butter is a rich formulation as it is ONLY made by oils and vegetable butters, which means no water at all. Of course that butters and oils are more expensive than water, furthermore this should be the reason why those products have a higher price. A true body butter ONLY contain different proportions of oils and butters (non water phase, or wax).
Hence, next time when you read a nice label with "enriched body butter" and in the ingredients list you find written Aqua as in the first positions, you will know that is not a real butter, it's just marketing.
The only way for you to know which are the main ingredients on a composition is by reading the ingredients list. As a rule, they must be listed in descending order, which means the first ingredients are the most used in the formulation. If you'd like to have further information about nasty ingredients list click here to the link on my previous post about chemical ingredients and how to make a good choice on cosmetics.
Next time be smart and don't pay water for a butter price !