What Is The Difference Between Lotion and Moisturizer?

Whether you lather on lotion before bedtime or apply moisturizer after a shower, the majority of people believe they are doing their skin a service. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to apply either of these products as our skin would maintain the moisture it has and never lose elasticity. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and things like harmful cleansers, environmental toxins, and the ever-changing seasons, leave our skin prone to irritation, dryness, and dehydration. If you are looking for a remedy to any of these skin issues, you might be wondering whether to purchase a lotion or to grab a bottle of moisturizer. In this article, we break down what the difference is between the two and which one you should buy.

The Chemical Differences Between Them Are Subtle

This is a bit of a trick question in that lotions, creams, and ointments all have one or more forms of moisturizer in them. Since moisturizers are on a water to vaseline spectrum line, most lotions will have a combination of these two. This is why you can by a cream or a lotion that has a “moisturizer” in it. Keep in mind though, a true moisturizer will use a mixture of water soluble and oil soluble components. Common ingredients for these include mineral oil and petroleum jelly.

In the case of lotions, these will have more added ingredients than moisturizers. This is because they have a higher water content which makes it easier for bacteria to form within it. This means that the product maker must insert in preservatives, like parabens, and salicylic acid) to stave off the bacteria. Often fragrances are then added in to mask the smell of these preservatives.

The Differences in Texture Between Moisturizers and Lotions

Some of the best moisturizers are going to be thick and greasy. This is not because they have gross ingredients in them but because greasy creams and oils are the best for locking in moisture into your skin and keeping environmental irritants out. Lotions, on the other hand, are often very light in how they go on the skin, will hydrate without feeling sticky, and will rub in rather quickly. These have a low-viscosity to them and are economical to buy, but are only a temporary solution as the moisture doesn’t last as long or lock in for as long.

Which One to Buy?

Individuals who have extremely dry skin or suffer from skin conditions like eczema will want to buy thick creams and ointments that are near the petroleum end of the spectrum. These types of moisturizers will have protective ingredients and will lock in moisture. For those who have well-balanced skin but suffer from spots of oiliness or dryness, using a gel cream or light lotion will get the job done. If you have acne-prone skin, choose a lotion that has low levels of oil and if you live in humid areas, choose water-based lotions as these will not clog up your pores or cause your makeup to run in the heat.