What is the difference between lotion and moisturizer?




All lotions are moisturizers, but not all moisturizers are lotions.

While they both have a place in your skincare routine, the right one for your will depend on your skin type, personal preferences, and skin concerns.

Generally, lotions tend to be better for oily skin and people living in warmer climates.

Moisturizers tend to be better for dry skin and people living in colder climates.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What moisturizers are
  • Why you need moisturizers in your skincare routine
  • Lotion and moisturizer difference
  • Whether a lotion or moisturizer is better for you

Moisturizer Overview

La Roche Posay Moisturizer with BowTiedFawn branding

Keeping your skin moisturized is the best way to:

  • Prevent premature aging
  • Keep your skin soft
  • Protect your skin barrier
  • Maintain your skin’s elasticity

It’s an essential daily practice for skin health.

What makes a good moisturizer?

Good moisturizing skin care products will have varying combinations of ingredients like:

  • Occlusive ingredients: petroleum jelly, mineral oil, shea butter
  • Non comedogenic fats and oil: cocoa butter, avocado oil
  • Humectants: aloe vera, hyaluronic acid
  • Fatty and hydrating alcohols: benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol

Moisturizer and Lotion Difference

How often should you use face moisturizer? With BowTiedFawn branding

Moisturizing products are an essential part of any skin care routine.

Generally, moisturizers tend to be thicker cream while lotion tends to be lighter.

There is some overlap, of course. For example, you’ll see products like moisturizing lotions, facial lotions, body lotion, and moisturizing cream.

Try not to get too caught up in the names though. The more important thing is that you find a moisturizer that works for your skin type and doesn’t clog pores.


Stratia Liquid Gold Moisturizer with Flower Background and BowTiedFawn branding

The moisturizer category is an umbrella which lotions fall under. However, it can also include other skin care products like petroleum jelly or ingredients for skin hydration.

Basically, these products add fats and moisture back in to keep your skin protected.

How to Choose a Moisturizer

If you have dry skin, look for thick creams.

If you have normal skin, combination skin, or oily skin type, you can get away with a gel moisturizer or lighter facial lotion.


First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream with BowTiedFawn branding

For dry skin, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is good.

CeraVe moisturizers like the Healing Ointment also makes for a great petroleum jelly with added ceramides, especially to lock in moisture for dehydrated skin.


Vanicream moisturizing baby products with BowTiedFawn branding

Lotions tend be thinner, more fluid formulas with higher water content.

Since they have higher water content, they’re lighter on the skin but provide plenty of hydration.

These tend to be non greasy and easily absorbed into the skin. However, you’ll need more moisturizing products vs. lotion for extremely dry skin.

Body Lotions and Face Lotions

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with BowTiedFawn branding

Body lotions tend to be affordable, but they can sometimes clog the pores on your face.

On the other hand, face lotions might be a little more expensive, but they’re a safe moisturizing product for both your face and body skin.

How to Choose a Lotion

For normal skin or combination skin, look for anything titled lotion, facial lotion, or body lotion.

For an oily skin or acne prone skin type, look for a gel moisturizer.


CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion with BowTiedFawn branding

I have dry skin, and the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion is my favorite moisturizer.

If you have particularly oily skin or acne prone skin, you might like the Neutrogena Hydro Boost line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Skincare Questions with BowTiedFawn branding
Is lotion a moisturizer?

Yes, all lotions are moisturizers.

Are lotion and moisturizers the same thing?

No. All lotions are moisturizers, but not all moisturizers are lotions.

What is the difference between moisturizer and lotion?

Moisturizers tend to be heavier formulas with more fats and occlusives. Lotions tend to be light formulas with more water content and other hydrating ingredients.

Moisturizers also take longer to absorb than lotions.

Do you have any oil recommendations?

Yes! I love layering oil on top of my moisturizer. It’s a great step to lock in moisture, especially during the winter months.

Check out one of my favorites, Stratia Fortify.

Do you have any sensitive skin moisturizer recommendations?

Yep! Check out green tea moisturizers.

When you finally decide to it's time to improve your health and appearance, you need to sign up for my Substack below. Find specific skin routines and protocols in My Roadmap or start with my Basic Skincare Guide.

Also, you should be following my other socials for free skincare, health, and beauty content daily:

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