Skin care manufacturers, beauty brands, and customers alike often use the terms “lotion” and “moisturizer” interchangeably. However, while these products are both essential for skin hydration, they are different—and knowing the difference between lotions and moisturizers is important when deciding which products to feature in your skin care line.

What Is Moisturizer?

Moisturizers are a category of skin care products designed to nourish and hydrate skin, both replenishing moisture and preventing further moisture loss. Most people think of moisturizing creams when they hear the term “moisturizer,” but moisturizers can take many forms, including gels, creams, serums, body butter, balms, ointments, and more.

What Is Lotion?

Lotions are a type of moisturizer. These products have a higher water concentration and are more lightweight than creams. They provide hydration and help the skin maintain its moisture levels.

What’s the Difference Between Moisturizer & Lotion?

“Moisturizer” is an umbrella term that includes the subcategory of “lotion.”

However, when comparing moisturizing creams and lotions, there are a few differences that come to light, including the formulation, texture, and use.


Lotions have a higher water content than creams. Their primary ingredient is water, and they do not penetrate as deeply as other moisturizing products. Due to their water content, lotions are more prone to bacterial contaminants, so they typically contain more preservatives.

Moisturizing creams have a higher concentration of oil than lotions, helping to improve skin hydration and provide a strong moisture barrier. They are often enhanced with ingredients to perform other functions, such as anti-aging or acne-fighting ingredients.


Lotions tend to be lightweight and leave a less greasy residue than creams, making them ideal for hotter climates and those with normal to slightly dry skin.

Moisturizing creams are thicker and can feel a bit greasier than lotions. They are great for people with dry skin or specific skin care needs.


Both moisturizing creams and lotions are made to hydrate, nourish, and moisturize skin.

Lotions are lightweight, good for daily use, and absorb more quickly into the skin than creams. They are often formulated for certain parts of the body, such as sun lotion or body lotion.

Moisturizing creams are thicker and provide more intense hydration, so they are an excellent option for dry to excessively dry skin and for anyone during harsh winter months.

Which Is Better: Lotion or Moisturizer?

Moisturizing creams and lotions are designed for different purposes, so choosing which product to use depends on factors such as individual skin type, climate, time of year, and where they will be applied.

For example, body products are generally heavier and more exfoliating than facial moisturizers. The skin of the face is much thinner and more delicate than body skin, so it’s better to use products specially formulated for the face.

Or, during the colder months, when the climate tends to dry out skin, thicker moisturizing creams are the best choice to keep skin hydrated.

Lotion vs. Moisturizer: What to Offer in Your Skin Care Line

Should you include moisturizers or lotions—or both—in your skin care line? It all depends on what your customers are looking for and what types of skin care products you want to provide. One option is having several types of moisturizers and lotions to choose from, which means there’s a product designed to meet the unique skin care needs of each of your customers.

Consider adding a range of nourishing, hydrating moisturizing products to your beauty brand. Include a lightweight body lotion, a facial moisturizer, an intensive moisture-rich serum, and a combination hand and body moisturizer to serve the full spectrum of your clients’ skin care needs.

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