Lotions, oil, and creams are a standard part of most women’s (and many men’s) daily skin care routine.  However, many people are uncertain as to what distinguishes one from other.  In this article we will consider the differences between the three products.

 The main differences between lotions, oils, and creams have to do with strength, ingredients, consistency, and staying power. At the top of the strength meter are oils and creams. Creams are the second strongest choice, and are actually mostly oil-based.The strength of a moisturizing product depends largely on its major ingredient. Oils and creams are generally oil-based while lotions are water-based.

Oils and creams are the best choice for people who need intense amounts of moisture and do not struggle with acne or other skin issues that are exacerbated by oil. Oils (including petrolatum) are the thickest and strongest moisturizers of the three, but they can be heavy and leave a greasy film behind.  Creams also contain high amounts of oil, but tend to be less greasy than pure oils. Because of this, they can be a good compromise in strength and consistency.

The major ingredient in most lotions is water, which makes them weaker in terms of moisturizing power, but also lighter in consistency and easier for your skin to absorb. Lotions are a better choice for people who need less moisture for shorter amounts of time. The difference in the base ingredient (oil versus water) means that lotions, oils, and creams all widely vary in their consistency. Lotions are usually more watery, which gives them a lighter feel on the skin. but they also have a shorter staying power. Creams, which are generally oil based, have a much thicker consistency.  This can mean that they often feel more greasy or heavy on the skin, but that they also have a longer staying power. Oils, though not as thick as creams, have the same general feel.

Because of these difference, lotions, creams, and oils are appropriate for certain situations, parts of the body, and skin types.  If you are unsure as to which one is right for you, take into consideration the amount of moisture your skin needs, for how long it needs to last, and how you want your skin to feel.  As all companies do not manufacturer these three items the same, it is important to try out different brands until you find the one that works best for you!