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Lotion vs Moisturizer – What’s The Difference?

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

Is lotion and moisturizer the same thing?

When it comes to that part of your skincare routine- applying a moisturizer. Picking out a moisturizer can seem like the easy step in any skincare routine, but that’s the part so many of us get wrong.

From so many products to choose from, two main types stand out. Lotion and moisturizer. What is the difference between body lotion and moisturizer? Since it’s going on your face, choosing the wrong formula, can be the culprit to many of your bothersome skin problems.

I’ve got you covered.

I’ve gone over everything you need to know including selecting the best kind of moisturizer for your skin type, the difference between moisturizer and lotion, and all the little tips and tricks to get that gorgeous glowing skin.

So, if you wondering whether to go for lotion or moisturizer so you can improve sagging skin and breakouts to get to that youthful glow, read one and take notes, your skin will thank you later!

Here’s a tip- When buying skincare products, know your skin type. This is going to make a huge difference when it comes to finding products that work for you.


Moisturizer vs Lotion – Similarities and differences

What’s the difference between lotion and moisturizer? You might have noticed when shopping for moisturizers that label with the words lotion, cream, moisturizer, and others. Although very similar, they cant be used interchangeably and picking out the right one for you can make a difference.


Lotions and moisturizers- Both used to moisturize dry skin

Lotions and moisturizing creams have a lot in common. Is lotion moisturizer? Yes. Both are great for moisturizing your skin, by using water and oil in their formula to lock in hydration. They are both emulsions, and you can use them for your body or face. Now, this doesn’t mean you should simply pick out the one with the prettiest packaging and done. There are a few differences that are key to consider.


Lotions- More water, lighter, fast-absorbing

Moisturizer cream- Contains a mix of water and oil, thicker, greasier, better for drier skin

The main difference between lotions and moisturizing creams are in the formula. Lotions have a higher water content in the ingredients to help moisturize the skin without being too heavy. You will often see lotions described as “body lotions” because they can be used all over your body. Since they are water based, they are much more lightweight for everyday hydration and will quickly absorb into the skin.

Moisturizers usually will come in tubs, and have a thicker consistency that is not as liquid as a lotion. Most people use a moisturizer for their face or hands and feet, as these need more intense hydration. As moisturizers contain a mix of oil and water, they can penetrate deeper into your skin to provide better hydration for very dry skin. Since it is thicker, it can take a while to absorb and will be greasier too.

Once you know the difference, it’s crucial to understand what your skin needs are so you can pick out the best type of moisturizer for you.

Choosing for your skin type

When buying your skincare products, knowing your skin type can make it a lot easier to choose products that your skin will like. If you’re wondering whether to go for a lotion or a moisturizer, then find out what’s best for your skin type.

Normal skin- If you have normal skin, then you can go for a lightweight moisturizer cream for your face, and a body lotion for your body. The key is to not go too heavy or greasy creams as your body doesn’t need them. Everyday hydration is still key though.

Dry skin- dry skin types benefit from using a heavier cream rather than lotion. Moisturizing creams are heavier, so this is a good idea if you suffer from dry skin and struggle to stay hydrated. You can find moisturizing creams for your body too, so you can moisturize at a deeper level if you have very dry skin. You can try creams with added ingredients such as petroleum jelly.

Acne-prone skin- acne-prone skin types benefit from moisturizing especially if using strong acne treatments. The best thing to do is to go for a lighter lotion for your face, as this is water-based it won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. Avoid heavier creams that can make your skin feel greasy.

Oily skin– Oily skin types still need hydration, but you need to pick the right product. Use a water-based lotion that is oil-free, so it won’t clog pores and you won’t add any more oil to your face. Lotions are easily absorbed so they won’t add to the grease or shine on your face, but you will still be providing essential moisture for your skin.

Mature skin- If your goal is to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, then using lotions and moisturizers is a must. For daytime you can choose a lightweight lotion that is absorbed quickly, and then go for a heavier cream moisturizer at nighttime to help against wrinkles.

Sensitive skin- if you have sensitive skin it’s best to use a lightweight lotion without added ingredients such as fragrances and preservatives that could irritate your skin.

Both lotions and moisturizers have their uses, and when you know your skin type you can go for one that will benefit your body and your face.

Seasonal uses for lotion and moisturizer

During the year, our environment changes around us, and so does our skin. You might find you need a very different skincare routine during the summer and winter, when humidity levels change and you get hot and cold temperatures.

Your skin needs moisture all year round, but when it’s summer and the weather is hot, you don’t want a heavy cream that takes ages to absorb. A lightweight lotion that has no oil is ideal because during the summer your skin doesn’t lose much hydration.

From hot temperature to sweat and humidity, you’ll find your skin only needs a little moisture. Ideally go for a moisturizer with SPF to protect from the sun, and remember to moisturize every day as your ski can still get dried out especially after being out in the sun.

In winter you’ll find yourself reaching for heavier creams for your body. It can be like an extra layer of protection from the elements since it contains oils, keeping your skin moisturized when it’s likely to become dry and cracked.

It’s worth using a cream to treat your hands and feet all year round as these can get dry very often, and need extra moisture. Don’t be afraid to use the cream for your face, as long as it is non-comedogenic it can be great to use at night or have a lighter one you can use in the morning.

Final Thoughts

There is a difference between lotion and moisturizer. Body lotion vs moisturizer -even though they essentially do the same job, it is useful to know the differences they have to choose the right one for you. Is lotion a moisturizer? Yes, it moisturizes your skin. Is moisturizer lotion? No, moisturizers are creams.

These terms are not just a marketing ploy, but they’re good indicators of the water content. Body lotion often has high water content, with no oil, whereas creams will have a mix of both for a heavier consistency. That makes lotions liquid, and creams thick, so you can hydrate your skin according to your skin type.

Typically for facial moisturizers, it’s best to go light, especially if you have oily skin. Go for ones that are formulated for your specific type of skin, and avoid preservatives that can irritate your skin. Both have benefits to them and work as moisturizers but simply in a different form. Whether you want a facial moisturizer or a body lotion, go for one that will hydrate and protect your skin.

Apply a form of moisturizer every day and usually, you’ll quickly realize which one you prefer, lotion or cream moisturizer.

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