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Lotion vs Moisturizer: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: June 29, 2022

Everyone has different skin types, but all skin needs moisture to be hydrated and healthy.

There are so many creams, gels, and salves out there, but let’s bring it back to basics: lotion and moisturizer. 

Is there a difference between the two? Does it matter which one you use? Keep reading to find out the main difference between lotion vs moisturizer.

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What’s the Difference Between Lotion and Moisturizer?

The main differences between the two are consistency and texture. Generally, lotions are thinner than moisturizers because they have more water content. On the other hand moisturizers can actually be considered a type of lotion, or even a gel or cream. 

Below, we made a table to outline some major differences and similarities between lotion and moisturizer. 

Lotion vs Moisturizer

higher water content

thinner consistency

has more added ingredients

applies to the body smoothly

usually fragranced

generally for the body, not the face
is an umbrella term to describe products that hydrate and protect your skin

can include lotions, gels, ointments, creams, and salves

can be used all over the body, but is primarily used on the face

Now we’ll break things down even further. 



Lotion Texture

As mentioned before, lotions have a thinner texture and consistency due to the higher water content in the formula.

Lotion are typically meant for the body, which is why the texture needs to be thin so that it can be easily and smoothly applied. 


Moisturizer Texture

Moisturizers can come in different forms. In fact, lotion can be a moisturizer, too! 

The main point of a moisturizer is not just to hydrate the skin, but to also lock in the existing moisture, thus keeping the skin plump and nourished. 

Moisturizers can be thin like lotions and gels, or can be thicker like ointments and creams.

RELATED: 15 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin to Soothe and Hydrate



Lotion Uses

Lotion is mainly used to help hydrate dry skin and give your skin a protective barrier against environmental damage.

Of course, this is dependent on the kind of lotion you choose to use. 

There are moisturizing body lotions that promote anti-aging and skin treatments. There are also lotions specifically for sensitive skin, like Aveeno’s Skin Relief 24-hour Moisturizing Lotion.

And of course, lotions are also used for fragrance, like Bath & Body Works’s Cotton Candy Clouds Body Lotion.

Because many lotions have added ingredients to them — like fragrances — it’s best use lotion for the body unless the packaging states it can be used for the face.

This is because the skin on the face is a lot more sensitive, and using the wrong lotion can clog pores and irritate your skin. 


Moisturizer Uses

Rather than lotions, which tend to stay on top of the skin and act as a barrier, moisturizers do the same but also penetrate the skin to help retain the moisture for longer periods of time. 

Moisturizers can be for the body and the face, and they are typically gentler than body lotions and non-comedogenic — meaning they don’t clog the pores. 

There are a lot of different moisturizers out there, so it’s best to choose a moisturizer for your specific skin type. 

For example, CeraVe’s Three Ceramide Moisturizing Cream is perfect for those with dry skin. 



Lotion Benefits

Not only does applying lotion give your skin a healthy glow and hydrate your skin, it also provides a nice scent wherever you go.

Lotions can be re-applied whenever, and they are often made in little travel sizes so you can take them with you on the go!


Moisturizer Benefits

Since moisturizers are meant to penetrate your skin and support your skin barrier to keep it healthy, moisturizer doesn’t need to be applied super often.

In fact, moisturizers are typically used as the last step in a skincare routine

Since moisturizers are typically used on the face, a lot of moisturizers have ingredients like ceramides, emollients, and vitamins to really nourish your skin.

Moisturizers also don’t normally include fragrance as to not irritate the sensitive skin on your face. 

To Wrap It Up

When it comes down to lotion vs moisturizer, they definitely differ in terms of when you should use them and where.

It’s totally fine to use both, but knowing the difference between the two benefits you and your skin! 

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