Cream vs Lotion – Difference and Comparison

What is a Cream?

Creams are emulsions or blends primarily made up of oil in water O/W or water in oil W/O., used to hydrate dehydrated skin. Most of the creams are for topical use and contain water in oil. The most popular cosmeceutical products are oil-in-water emulsions in everyday skin care.

Creams are pharmaceutical products, but most of the time, unmedicated creams are used for various skin conditions. Creams are semi-solid blends or emulsions of water and oil—two kinds of creams, cold creams and vanishing creams.

Cold creams are primarily composed of water, oil, an emulsifier, and a thickening agent in which fat and water content are approximately the same. Cold creams are water in oil in composition. Cold creams are used to hydrate dry skin—chemicals used in cold creams are hydrophilic.

While vanishing creams are composed of stearic acid, a polyol, an alkali, and water. Vanishing creams are oil in water in compositions. They are used to dry oily skin and provide a pearly sheen. Chemicals used in vanishing creams are hydrophobic.

What is a Lotion?

A lotion is a low-viscosity liquid prepared for moisturizing application on the skin. In contrast to creams and gels, lotions have higher viscosity due to less water content. Lotions are for use externally on the skin and can be applied by hand, with a brush, or with a clean cloth.

While a lotion can be used as a medicine delivery system, many lotions, especially hand lotions, body lotions, and lotions for allergies, are meant to simply smooth, moisturize, soften, and sometimes, perfume the skin. There are three lotions: emollients, humectants, and occlusive.

Emollients are preparations for moisturizing dry skin that make an oily layer to trap water in the skin. Emollients are composed of petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, and dimethicone.

Humectants are water-absorbing substances used to moisturize skin and are composed of substances like glycerin, urea, AHAs, and hyaluronic acid. Humectants help absorb water from the environment and draw water from the inner layer of skin to the outermost layer epidermis to make skin soft and hydrated.

Occlusive are moisturizing agents that moisturize the skin by making a protective layer on the skin’s surface and creating a barrier to prevent moisture loss from the skin. The chemical composition of occlusives is petrolatum, silicones, waxes like carnauba or beeswax, and most oils and butter.

Difference Between Cream and Lotion

Creams and lotions are skin care products used to moisturize and hydrate skin, but both are the same.

  1. The main difference between cream and lotion is the water and oil content. The creams are rich in oil content and have a thicker consistency and are the ideal choice for people with dehydrated skin or body and are used during drier winter months.
  2. In contrast to creams, lotions have more water content than creams, are lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin, and are efficient and easy to use for people with mild to moderate skin dehydration.

Comparison Between Cream and Lotion

ViscosityCreams are emulsions or blends primarily made up of oil in water O/W or water in oil W/O., used to hydrate dehydrated skin.A lotion is a low-viscosity liquid prepared for moisturizing application on the skin.
CompositionsCreams have a higher percentage of oil with mixed water droplets.Lotions have a higher percentage of water mixed with oil droplets.
ConsistencyCreams are thicker in consistency than lotions.Lotions are thinner in consistency than creams.
Skin typesCreams are Best for severely dehydrated skin and are used at night.Lotions are the best for mild to moderately dry skin and are used during the daytime.
TextureCreams have a greasy and oily, and heavy texture.Lotions have less oil content, are non-greasy, and are light in texture.


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  2. Mezei, M. and Gulasekharam, V., 1980. Liposomes-a selective drug delivery system for the topical route of administration I. Lotion dosage form. Life sciences, 26(18), pp.1473-1477.