What's the difference between a lotion and a cream?

Woman reading contents of lotion

We all want beautiful, soft, hydrated skin. It can, however, be overwhelming and confusing when presented with so many different choices; for example: do I need a lotion or a cream? Both are mixtures of oil and water, but what is the difference? Each cream and lotion has its own unique composition and benefits.


Lotions have a higher water percentage and, to put it simply, are droplets of oil mixed in water.

Lotions tend to be light-weight, non-greasy, and are more easily absorbed into the skin. They are excellent for normal to slightly dry skin.

Lotions are normally sold in bottles and have a liquid consistency. The basic rule is to use lotion during the day and in hot summer months, when you want a product to absorb fast and not leave a greasy residue on your skin.


Cream is a blend of oil and water with a higher oil percentage - basically droplets of water mixed in oil.

Cream may be heavier and richer than lotion and, therefore, thicker in consistency. For this reason, cream is typically sold in a jar. It is the better choice for dry to very dry skin and better for normal skin during the harsh winter months. Cream provides a barrier that helps keep the skin ultra-hydrated, which is why it is recommended for nighttime use.

Benefits of Lotion and Cream

Both lotion and cream hydrate dry skin, but cream is the better option for very dry skin. Both help protect the skin against the harsh effects of our environment, namely heat, cold, and wind. The secret to lock in moisture is to apply immediately after a bath or shower when your skin is still slightly damp.

Lotions and creams are also available as body products. They can help moisturize rough areas such as elbows, knees, feet, and hands. Experiment a bit to see which one you prefer on various parts of the body. Massaging either one into your skin can make you feel pampered and relaxed.

We hope this blog helps you next time you are in need of a moisturizer, but aren’t sure what to choose!

Source: Obagi