Body Lotion vs. Body Cream: Which One Is Better?

Find out if there's really a difference.

Should I Be Using Body Lotion or Body Cream?
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You spend a ton of time and hard-earned money on your face care routine, but the other 90% of your body deserves just as much attention. While your face and body regimens may consist of different steps, moisturizer is the cornerstone of maintaining healthy skin from head to toe.

As far as the skin below your neck, there are a number of lotions and creams to choose from — but they're not all created equal. So, which is better: body lotion or body cream? That's the question you might ask yourself as you're trying to pick out a body moisturizer in the beauty aisle.

Keep reading to find out the real difference between body lotion and body cream from two top dermatologists. Plus, get their tips on how to choose the best body moisturizer for your routine.

What is body lotion?

A body lotion is a lightweight moisturizer that typically contains higher water content than a body cream. "Lotions tend to feel less greasy and absorb quicker into the skin," explains Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey.

Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology, says that the thin texture can be credited to the richness of the formula and the concentrations of its ingredients.

How do you use body lotion?

Body lotions are safe for all skin types, but Dr. Yadav says they're best suited for balanced or oily skin as they're less likely to clog pores. "They're also better for summer when skin is naturally more hydrated and won't need as much deep nourishment," she adds.

Dr. Sperling further says that lotions tend to dry out quicker, so dry skin types might not find them hydration enough – especially during the winter.

They're best applied daily after the shower on cleansed skin. If your skin is still a bit moist, that will actually help seal and lock in moisture.

What is body cream?

A body cream is a thicker, richer version of a body lotion. "It's designed to hydrate and nourish the skin, Dr. Yadav says. "Common ingredients in body creams include plant-based oils and butters, especially cocoa and shea butter, as well as ingredients like ceramides to help seal in lasting moisture."

Hyaluronic acid is also a common ingredient in body creams as it helps draw moisture into the skin to maintain its hydration levels.

How do you use body cream?

While all skin types can use body creams, dry skin types will especially reap the benefits of moisturizing with a thicker product. "Body creams are best for drier skin types or those who need extra moisture, which can be especially common during shifts in season — namely summer to fall and fall to winter," Dr. Yadav shares.

Dr. Sperling seconds making the switch to a body cream come fall. "In the cooler months, I recommend switching to these richer, more nourishing formulas," she says. "In general, you want to look for products with moisturizing properties that will hydrate the skin. For example, look for creams with ceramides, which are lipids that help restore the skin barrier and retain moisture. Shea butter and coconut oil also have hydrating properties."

As with body lotion, a body cream is best used straight out of the shower while skin is still a bit damp. "This will help seal that hydration more deeply into the skin," Dr. Yadav says.

Should you use a body lotion or a body cream?

When deciding between a body lotion and body cream, consider what your overall skin type is and what your skin needs on that given day. "One is not necessarily better than the other — it just depends on what your skin needs, either generally speaking or that day in particular," Dr. Yadav says.

And if ever in doubt about a formula, do a patch test before slathering it on from head to toe. "Always patch test new products to ensure there’s no sensitivity or allergy," Dr. Sperling reiterates.

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