Cream vs lotion: what is the difference?

We all have our own preferred skincare routine, but we share the same goal: keeping our skin adequately hydrated. But with so many different products on the market these days, it’s sometimes tricky knowing what’s what when it comes to making an informed choice. For example: what’s the difference between lotion and cream? Many think they’re basically the same, but they’d be wrong. There are subtle differences between the two that set them apart.



Lotion is significantly lighter in comparison to cream. It has a higher water content and is mixed with less oil, making it an excellent choice for those who don’t want their skin to feel too oily after an application.

If you have a combination or slightly dry skin type, lotion is the ideal choice for you. It quickly absorbs into your skin without leaving a greasy residue, making it suitable and comfortable for you to confidently use, especially in summer.

It is completely okay – actually recommended - to apply body lotion every day. There are a few things to check when choosing a lotion to ensure it suits your needs:

• does it contain fragrance?
• does it contain any ingredients your skin could react to?
• does it contain sunscreen/SPF?

It is always advisable to consult a dermatologist before trying out a new product if you have sensitive skin. Remember, our skin produces natural oils that assist in moisturising your skin, so balance and moderation is key to keeping your skin healthy and beautiful.


Woman smiling looking into the mirror


Cream is thicker and richer in consistency than lotion. This is because it has a 50:50 ratio of water and oil. When applied, it leaves a heavier, richer layer on the skin due to the high percentage of oil.

If you battle with very dry skin, cream should be your go to. Not only does it deeply nourish the skin, it also leaves an external barrier to prevent moisture from escaping. Perfect for those cold, dry months where your skin needs the most love and attention.

Body cream can be used for all parts of your body, except your face. Due to its extremely thick consistency and the fact that it usually contains fragrance, it can irritate more sensitive facial skin. Rather stick to a product that is light and delicate to prevent clogging your facial pores.


Which is better: lotion or cream?

Now that you know the difference between lotion and cream, which is the best option? It all depends on your skin type. Body lotions and creams share the same goal, to hydrate and moisturise your skin. It also comes down to preference. If you prefer thicker-based skincare products to lighter products, the choice is yours. To recap:

• Creams are ideal for those with dry skin or medium skin types
• Lotions are great for those with oily skin who don’t want the extra moisture in their life.


Mixed race man smiling

A good skincare routine should be practiced by everyone, men included. We know many men opt for lighter moisturising, so usually prefer lotion to cream. With this in mind, Dawn offers Dawn Men Active Fast Absorbing Body Lotion as part of its range of creams and lotions for men. Enriched with Activated Charcoal to detox and smooth dry skin for a balanced, even-toned finish. It is formulated to be as strong and mighty as the men who use it.