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Body Cream vs. Lotion: What Are the Differences?

When you want to assemble a lineup of products that are great for your skin and packed with beneficial ingredients, knowing the differences between the various types of skincare products is essential. Cleansers, toners, moisturizers, exfoliators, lotions, creams and other types of topicals all serve different purposes in your beauty routine. 

The amount of skincare products that you might come across online or in your local drugstore can quickly start to feel overwhelming. We understand how much of a struggle putting together a skincare routine that works for you can be, and we’re here to help you out! 

This post is all about how to tell the difference between body cream and body lotion. These two types of topicals seem similar at a glance, but there are a few key differences that distinguish them from each other.

Knowing the differences between body cream and body lotion, as well as how both can benefit your skin and contribute to your beauty routine, you can confidently choose which is right for you based on your skin’s specific needs. 

To learn more, keep reading!

What is Body Cream?

Body creams can be made with a variety of different ingredients. However, at the core of every body cream is a mixture of oil and water. This mixture is usually thick, spreadable and distinctly… creamy. Jokes aside, “creamy” really is the most fitting word to describe the consistency of body cream. 

The mixture of oil and water that serves as the foundation for a body cream is typically about a 1:1 ratio. This amount of oil can give a cream long-term moisturizing properties, but it can also create a mixture that can feel a bit greasy on your skin. The greasiness of a body cream depends on the type of oil or oils included in the cream and the ratio of oil to water. More water will make a cream thinner – too much can cause it to get runny, but too much creates a mixture that is too heavy in oil.

The balance of ingredients in body cream is a delicate one. Some creams will feel greasier, while others will feel much lighter on your skin. Different types of oil can each have a distinct feel on your skin, and some may be more appealing to you than others. 

What is Body Lotion?

The key difference between body cream and body lotion is less in the ingredients and more in which ingredients are used more or less than others. 

Generally speaking, body lotion is made with less oil and more water than body cream. 

This change in the ratio of oil to water distinguishes lotion from cream.

The lower oil content in a body lotion compared to a body cream makes the former a more lightweight product than the latter. Depending on what feels best to you, a body lotion’s lower oil content might be more appealing, especially if you are not a big fan of any products that have the potential to feel “greasy” on your skin.

Texture

Both body cream and body lotion can be made with added ingredients that give them a thicker consistency. These additives do not usually add to the benefits of a lotion or cream for your skin. Instead, thickening agents serve the purpose of giving a lotion or cream a texture that feels as nice on your skin as possible. 

Lotions and creams have some key differences from each other in terms of texture, mainly because of the difference in the amount of oil used in each. Less oil and more water makes lotions thinner but less greasy. In contrast, less water and more oil makes creams thicker but potentially more greasy. When you add thickening agents and other extra ingredients to alter the texture of the mixture of oil and water, lotions and creams can get even thicker and easier to spread.

Ingredients

Naturally-derived oils like argan oil, coconut oil and others are rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, two sets of nutrients that your skin needs to stay healthy and keep its natural processes and cycles running normally. 

Antioxidants benefit your skin by counteracting the age-inducing effects of molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can age your skin by slowing down your skin cells’ production of collagen and elastin. Without enough collagen and elastin, your skin weakens and becomes more vulnerable to wrinkling and sagging.

To ward off the damaging effects that free radicals have on your skin, you can supply your skin cells with antioxidants. Antioxidants counteract the effects of free radicals and help to prevent your body from undergoing oxidative stress. One of the best ways to include antioxidants in your skincare routine is to use a body cream or body lotion that includes an oil that is naturally antioxidant-rich.

Using a lotion or cream that contains antioxidants isn’t the only way to supply your skin with these important molecules. You can also include antioxidants in your beauty and routine and your lifestyle at large in other ways. Antioxidants can be taken as supplements, found in many foods, and applied to your skin topically as active ingredients in many skincare products. 

To supply your skin with as high of a concentration of a specific antioxidant as possible, one of the best ways to go is using a serum. Serums are much lighter and more liquid-based than lotions or creams, and their concentration of their active ingredients is much higher. This makes a serum an ideal means of nourishing your skin, especially in tandem with a moisturizing lotion or cream and other helpful skincare products.

Why Use Body Cream and Body Lotion?

Your skin needs moisture to stay healthy. When it gets overdried, your skin can start to overproduce oil in an attempt to lubricate itself. Unfortunately, this excess oil often ends up clogging your pores. Clogged pores can give way to breakouts and can make wrinkles and lines more visible. Moisturizing your skin with cream or lotion can keep your skin hydrated and prevent dryness.

Dryness can also irritate your skin, making it more tempting to touch and scratch your face. When your skin is irritated, there can be much greater potential for transferring dirt, bacteria and oil from your hands to your face. This transfer of unwanted gunk from your hands to your face can clog your pores. Keeping your skin moisturized helps to prevent bothersome irritation and the problems it can cause. 

In addition to helping you keep your skin moisturized, cream and lotion both have the potential to supply your face and body with key nutrients like antioxidants and acids. Now that you know about the importance of antioxidants for your skin’s health, it is also worth diving into the benefits of acids for your skin.

Acids aid in your skin’s natural processes and functions in big ways. They play key roles in helping your skin retain water, generate new cells, fight off sun damage, and more. When you use a cream or lotion that includes a natural oil rich in fatty acids, you are doing your skin a big favor. 

Whether you choose to use cream or lotion on your skin, it is important to remember that some skincare products are designed to use on your body, not on your face.

The high oil content in some creams and lotions can make them comedogenic, or potentially pore-clogging. Applying a lotion that includes a comedogenic oil on your body does not usually cause problems, but putting it on your face is not always the best choice for your skin. 

Comedogenic oils can sometimes have a negative effect on acne-prone skin – for other skin types, they are not often as much of a concern. If you struggle with acne or have naturally oily skin, pay attention to the oils in your lotions and creams. Some products, especially those containing comedogenic oils, are best saved for using on your hands and body rather than on your face.

Body Cream vs. Body Lotion: Is There a Better Option?

Ultimately, there is no “winner” between body cream and body lotion. It is ultimately up to you to decide which balance of ingredients feels best on your skin and best suits your skin’s specific needs. You might prefer cream because of its thickness and spreadability, or you might favor lotion because it is lightweight and less greasy. You have the freedom to choose!

Sources:

https://idp.springer.com/authorize/casa?redirect_uri=https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10522-020-09865-z&casa_token=V9P-q3Zdv1cAAAAA:RpVfv_reGFW7LiajJ425nlwYvnJNtsAEdkOOP51jycZm-0DWMKLJPmZ7Zc8sP6jdyStgS1Rkh__zzjkn

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/9/8/704/htm

http://v2.practicaldermatology.com/pdfs/PD0210_natural%20Fea.pdf