Difference between Lotion and Cream
By Rebecca Rodriguez - January 11, 2023

Moisturizing the body is just one of the many reasons why people apply lotions and creams. However, despite the many similarities, there are differences between the two.

Summary Chart
  1. Higher water content
Higher oil content
  1. Sold in lightweight containers
Sold in jars and tubs
  1. Appropriate for use during the day and hot summer nights
It is suitable for use at night and in cold winter months
  1. It can be used on the entire body
Do not use on the face, as the oil may clog the pores
Woman applying lotion to hand

Getty images/Tetra images/JGI/Jamie Grill


The lotion is a topical preparation with a low viscosity applied to the skin. While a lotion can be used to deliver medicine, many lotions, particularly hand and body lotions, are designed to simply smooth, moisturize, soften, and, in some cases, perfume the skin.

A cream is a mixture of oil and water but with a higher concentration of oil (a 50-50 ratio of water and oil). Oil-in-water (O/W) creams are made up of tiny droplets of oil dispersed in a continuous water phase, whereas water-in-oil (W/O) creams are made up of small droplets of water dispersed in an ongoing oily phase.

Lotion vs. Body Cream

Creams have a thicker consistency than lotions and form a barrier to keep skin hydrated. Because of its thickness, body cream is typically sold in a jar or tub. Because of the higher percentage of oil in creams, they feel greasier than most lotions. The body lotion is ideal for normal to slightly dry skin because the skin more easily absorbs it due to its lower viscosity than cream. The lotion is also more appropriate for use during the day and hot summer months.

Oil-based creams are advised to be used on the face unless there is a case of excessive dryness. Creams, on the other hand, provide an oil barrier for ultra-hydration. They are best for dry to excessively dry skin and for normal skin during the harsher winter. However, they’re ideal for dry skin on the hands, feet, and legs.