Body butter is a moisturizing product designed to keep moisture in your skin by providing a protective barrier. It is made of oils extracted from seeds and nuts, such as coconut, cocoa beans, shea nuts, kukui nuts and mango seeds. It also includes other natural ingredients containing vitamins and minerals thought to help keep your skin healthy.
Skin care has been around as long as humans, and throughout history has developed into many specialized avenues. Body butter as we know it is a fairly modern skin care product, though people have used the oils from nuts and seeds on their skin as soon as they figured out how to extract them. The 1950s, with the advent of color movies and television, had a boom effect on the skin care industry, forming the basis for the current deluge of products that developed and expanded during the 1980s and 1990s.
Body butter is made to cover your skin with a protective layer that keeps outside influences from drying it out, and to keep the moisture inside from escaping. The oils from nuts and seeds contain antioxidants that are said to help slow the aging process and vitamins that nourish your skin.
The different types of body butters are identified by the type of nut or seed oil they are made from. They are often mixed as well to obtain different nutrient benefits from more than one seed or nut. Here is a brief list of the more well known ones and a few of their specific attributes. Cocoa butter is made from the cocoa bean, which is also used to make chocolate, and has a pleasant chocolate smell. It is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, calcium and iron. Shea butter comes from the fruit seeds of the shea or karite tree, this also contains antioxidants as well as vitamins A and E and may have anti-inflammatory properties. Mango butter is obtained from the seeds as well and contains beta carotene and vitamins A and E. Kukui butter is from the nuts of Hawaii's state tree, the oil contains essential fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E. Almond butter and macadamia nut butter are also sometimes used in conjunction with the above ingredients in body butters.
There are also erotic products that are called body butters, some of which claim to be edible. These do not contain the same ingredients as the skin care body butters and are not used for the same purpose, although some do claim to be moisturizers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production or sale of skin care products so it is up to the consumer to research the product. Many people also have or can develop allergies to seeds and nuts. It is a good idea to test a new product on a very small patch of skin in an unobtrusive area to make sure you do not have a reaction to it. If you have problems with oily skin, the oils in body butters could aggravate the problem.