Lotion vs. Cream and Which is the Most Important for Your Skin

By November 18, 2019August 5th, 2020No Comments

Your cousin claims that her lotion is the only thing that keeps her skin soft and smooth. Your friend says it’s her overnight facial cream that makes all the difference. In the lotion vs cream showdown, who wins? 

There are so many different types of skincare products, it’s difficult to track them all down and to keep up on which ones you are supposed to use when.  Which one is the best for dry skin? Nighttime use? Times of the month when you are prone to breakouts?

You may have a lot of questions when it comes to lotion vs cream. Luckily, the skincare experts at HD Beauty are ready to answer! Let’s talk about everything you need to know. 

What’s the difference?

First of all, you may question what the actual difference between these two products are. They seem similar because they are both created to moisturize the skin, whether they are formulated for facial or body use. 

Creams and lotions can work to keep moisture in the skin or by bringing up moisture from deeper layers. The first method works by creating a barrier against transepidermal water loss (losing water from inside the skin to the outside) while the second method the product works as a humectant to attract water molecules from below the surface of the skin.   

So while lotions and creams may work in a comparable manner, using either of the methods I listed above, that’s where the similarities end. 


First up in the lotion vs cream standoff is lotion. You’ve probably been using some type of lotion since you were a kid, rubbing lotion on your hands when they felt dry. Lotions are usually oil that has been emulsified in water. They usually are high in water content and are quite light. As compared to creams, they can feel light and less greasy. It can be easier for your skin to absorb a water-based lotion than other products, and it is good for skin that is normal to slightly dry. 

You can imagine lotion. It usually comes as a liquid (or close to it) and in a bottle. I recommend using lotion during the day and for warm weather days, because it’s helpful to have a product that can absorb quickly and not leave a greasy residue on your complexion. No one wants to be oily and shiny on a hot summer day! 

There are many different lotions formulated to meet the specific needs of your face, body, and hands.  The downside is that the moisturizing effect from lotion wears off quickly. Because it’s primarily made with water, you can find yourself reapplying frequently.

I recommend lotion for oily, normal, and slightly dry skin. Especially in the warm summer months, when skin tends to be more oily, lotion is an excellent way to keep skin hydrated.  


Next up in the lotion vs cream debate: cream. Cream, or creme, products are also made of oil emulsified in water. However, the percentage of oil to water is much higher. More oil means that creams are heavier than lotion. While lotion is almost liquid, creams are much more viscous and richer. 

These thicker formulas usually come in a jar, not a bottle. Their thick consistency would make it difficult for the product to be squeezed out of a bottle. For dry and very dry skin, a cream is a better choice than a lotion because of its higher oil content. It’s also helpful for normal skin during the winter when environmental conditions like harsh wind, cold snaps, and low humidity can really dehydrate your complexion. 

Creams provide a thick barrier that retains moisture. Since your skin can dehydrate overnight, creams can be very effective when applied before bed. This allows the formula to sink into your skin while you sleep, and protects your skin from losing hydration. 

Your skin allows for better absorption overnight, which is why some people suggest putting cream on typically dry areas like the soles of your feet before bed. Try putting a face cream on your face and neck as well as a body cream on your feet at night and wake up with well-hydrated skin! 

Which one is better?

The results are in for lotion vs cream. If your skin is feeling tight, dry, or flaky, both products can help bring relief. However, if your skin is naturally very dry or experiencing extreme dehydration from the weather, cream is the better option for ultimate moisturizing.  

The truth is that they are both winners at what they do best. I can’t pick only one! Both lotions and creams exist because they serve different purposes. 

For example, the HD Ultra Sheer Oil-Free Moisturizer is a lotion that delivers a healing formula to normal and oily skin. It’s recommended for people with acne. While a cream would be overly heavy and clog pores, HD Ultra Sheer hydrates while leaving skin shine-free. It’s the key to a healthy and vibrant complexion! 

On the other hand, many of us experience dry skin as a sign of aging. Wrinkles and fine lines are exacerbated by lack of moisture, so if you find yourself with papery, rough skin, it’s important to get hydration quickly. A deeply rich product like HD Reclaim Multi-Complex Night Creme can moisturize the skin, improve the appearance of fine lines, and nourish your skin while you sleep. HD Reclaim promotes smoother, healthier skin and is ideal for people with dry to very dry skin. 

For both lotions and creams, it’s important to lock in moisture at the opportune moment. When you get out of the bath or shower and your skin is still slightly damp, apply your moisturizing product. This will help retain moisture and keep your skin silky soft. In cold weather, it’s especially important to put on lotion or cream because the extra layer on your skin will help prevent water loss due to the cold or wind. 

When it comes right down to it, for lotion vs cream I have to say it depends on the person and their skin. Our complexions are different, so there’s no one size fits all solution! What works well for someone with dry skin may not work for someone with acne-prone skin. Our skin also changes due to the environment, our age, and other factors. Don’t count on your skin staying the same forever! 

What we can anticipate is a change in our skin due to the weather. As cold weather approaches, know that dry, winter air increases the water evaporation from the surface of your skin. That’s why your skin often looks red, flaky, and dry in the colder months. When the temperature starts to drop, use your cold-weather skincare products to protect your complexion. 

Don’t wait until the problems crop up, change from a lotion to a cream or a cream to a heavier cream now. When the weather becomes warmer in the spring, you can switch these products out for a lighter lotion that offers more breathability. With the right planning, you can have a beautiful, well-hydrated complexion all year round!

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