Most likely, you’ve come across tubes and tubs labelled “moisturizing cream” or “hydrating skin lotion” at your local drugstore.
It’s possible you thought “lotion” and “cream” were marketing terms and wondered if there is any difference between the two. Effectively, these moisturizing products are very different.
So, let’s talk about the differences and similarities between lotion and cream are.
The similarities and differences—
Let’s begin with the overlap. Both creams and lotions can be used to moisturize your skin. Both are emulsions that combine oil and water.
However, the lotion has more water than cream. Lotion may contain oil but usually only a few drops of it. The substance is more easily absorbed, so it feels lighter on the skin. Lotions are usually water-based and can be used anywhere on the body.
The cream is roughly a 50/50 mix of oil and water. Creams that are oilier tend to be thicker and greasier. They are more greasy when applied to the skin.
This is why oil-based creams are often found in tubs rather than tubes or bottles with pumps. It’s easier to apply the product with your fingers than it is to use with the help of a spray bottle. This is why you will find more cream-based products meant for hands and feet. Their thickness penetrates deeper into the rough skin of hands and feet, offering proper moisturization.
But before you pick skincare products, especially face products, it’s important to consider two important factors—
Know your skin type—There is no reason why you would choose cream over a lotion or vice versa without knowing the composition of your skin. Every skin type is different. Some people have sensitive skin, so they need to be cautious about what moisturizers they include in their skincare routine. On the other hand, some people have normal skin, so they have more control and liberty over the kind of moisturizeFrs they use.
The best choice for you will depend on your skin type. It may take some time to make the decision regarding what to buy, but with some research and experimentation, you will be able to zero in on the right products.
- Buy the best face products based on your skincare goals—
Your skincare goals are another important factor to consider. You might want a moisturizer that is anti-aging or a simple hydrating one to soften your skin. So, before you buy a product, think about what you are trying to accomplish with it.
Note that even if you are buying products based on your skincare goals, you shouldn’t forget to consider your skin type under any circumstances.
So, what to buy— cream or lotion?
- For Acne-Prone Skin—
You should stick to lotion if you have acne-prone skin. It has a low oil content, so it is easy to absorb and goes on easily.
Using cream on oily skin can lead to clogged pores.
Also, make sure the lotion you use is not containing alcohol. This chemical can dry out the skin and make it sensitive to infection.
You may find alcohol as ingredients such as ethanol, methanol, and isopropyl ethanol in lotions. These ingredients are added by manufacturers to make lotions lighter and more absorbing.
These alcohol-based skin additives have the side effect of destroying your skin’s natural barrier. This ingredient in products is not good for a long-term skin regime.
- For oily skin—
People with oily skin may be tempted to stop moisturizing. It’s possible to feel the need to use alcohol or astringent to dry out the skin when it’s too oily. However, if you dry out your skin, it will lead to more oiliness. Why? It triggers the production of more oil in your skin to combat the dryness, creating an endless grease war.
For a few days, you can use a non-greasy lotion to moisturize your skin. Then watch if your oil levels decline. Your skin will most likely adjust to the extra hydration and will begin to reduce its oil production.
You can go for a hydrating cream for other parts of your body, like your hands and legs. This will help to heal chapped, dry skin. It’s best if the products have nourishing natural ingredients such as olive oil and shea butter to provide maximum hydration.
- For extra dry skin—
Avoid using lotion if you have dry or cracked skin. Instead, use creams. They will act as a barrier to prevent moisture from evaporating. Use nourishing creams to soothe and moisturize dry skin.
- For normal skin—
Lotions can very well hydrate normal and combination skin types. You should moisturize daily because taking showers can strip your skin off of its natural oils.
Seasonal use of lotions and creams—
The lotion is light and has minimal oil, so it can be used in summer when you don’t want that greasy feeling. Your skin is normally hydrated by sweat and humidity in the summer. You should moisturize your skin in summer to prevent it from becoming dry and burned by the sun’s harmful UV rays. For additional protection, you can apply sunscreen lotion over the moisturizer.
The cream is thicker and oilier than lotion, which makes it ideal for the dry months of winter. The cream creates an additional barrier on the skin and increases hydration. It traps your skin’s natural oil and moisture.
Creams for hand, foot, and body moisturizing are often recommended by dermatologists. This is because creams with a thicker texture can allow moisture to penetrate the skin’s thick layers. If your skin is extremely dry from the winter cold, you may use non-comedogenic creams which will not clog your pores.
Which one is better for your skin care needs- cream or lotion?
Each product has a specific purpose. You will find yourself switching between a thick layer of ultra-penetrating cream in winter to a light swathe of moisturizing lotion in summer. You might also find that your feet become rough after summer activities and need a cream to treat it.
Each type of moisturizer has its own benefits and uses, so it is important to understand your requirements first.