woman applying moisturizer to skin

The Differences Between a Cream and a Lotion

Discover Whether a Cream or Lotion Is Best for You

Hydration is the key to having healthy, glowing skin. If you’re looking to achieve flawless, wrinkle-free skin adding a good moisturizer to your skincare routine is a must. Whether you have cracked elbows, rough knees, or things are just feeling a little dry and uncomfortable, you need a body moisturizer to enjoy smooth, soft skin. However, it can be confusing when choosing between a cream vs lotion. There are a few things to consider before you get yourself a new skincare product.

Cream vs Lotion

When browsing face and body moisturizers you’ll find many bottles of lotions and jars of creams. Knowing exactly which one to go for depends on your skin type, your environment, and your personal preference. Like most skincare, what works for one person may not work for someone else.

Creams and lotions are both used to hydrate skin and lock in moisture. They can be either oil-based, meaning a mix of water into oil, or water-based, meaning an oil into water. The biggest difference between a cream vs lotion is the oil content. Creams have a higher oil content whereas lotions having a higher water content.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Lotion

Lotions typically have a much higher water content than creams do, and have a thinner consistency. This means that they absorb much faster into the skin and don’t leave any greasy residue behind like a heavy cream can. They are often sold in squeeze bottles due to their liquid consistency. They also work well on areas of the body that are covered in hair, such as the scalp.
However, due to the higher water percentage, lotions often contain more preservatives because bacteria is able to easily grow in water.

Since water doesn’t absorb easily into the skin, penetration enhancers are also added to lotions for easy absorption. With these additional chemical ingredients, lotions tend to be heavily fragranced to disguise the chemical smell. This means that they may not be the best option for those with sensitive skin.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Cream

Creams are designed to lock in moisture. They have a much higher percentage of oil and are thicker and heavier than lotions. This means they are often packaged in jars or plastic containers. As creams deliver an instant moisture surge, they are perfect for dry and dehydrated skin and can help soothe irritation.

However, creams can be too heavy for some skin types and may leave behind a greasy residue due to their high oil content. They also tend to take a lot longer to absorb into the skin than a lotion does.

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Things to Consider

Deciding between a cream or a lotion is not always easy. You need to factor in your own skin type and lifestyle when choosing which option is going to work best for your body. There are several aspects you should consider.

Your Skin Type

The main factor when choosing any skin care product should be your personal skin type and your skincare concerns. Typically, due to the high oil content and thick consistency, creams will work best for those with dry or dehydrated skin. While a lotion will help with mild dryness and will maintain moisture levels, creams will help provide a dramatic improvement to dry and irritated skin.

If you have an oilier skin type, lotions are a better choice as they won’t cause skin congestion or feel too heavy.

The Weather

Your skincare routine isn’t just influenced by your skin type; it’s influenced by your environment, too. In winter, the air is drier and cooler, so creams are recommended.

However, in summer, you may wish to swap to a lotion as these can help keep skin moisturized without being too heavy when humidity levels become high. What may work for you in winter may not work as well in summer, so it’s important to adapt your routine to your changing surroundings.

Personal Preference

Trying and testing products is important to see what works for your skin. However, you also need to enjoy how it feels on your skin. While some people prefer a dewy look, others prefer a matte look, and creams may be too heavy and greasy to achieve a matte finish. Similarly, some people really enjoy the deep, hydrated and nourished sensation of cream, and like to dedicate time for an at-home pamper session. Others, though, may want their skincare routine to be fast and efficient and will prefer a quick-absorbing lotion.

Choosing between a cream vs lotion isn’t simple. The best way to find out what works for you and your skin is to try a few out and adapt your skincare routine to make sure you are getting the moisture that you need throughout the year.