Moisturizer vs Cream – Skincare Similarities and Differences

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Ever wonder what the difference between moisturizers and creams is? Both words are often used interchangeably, but are they really the same? The truth is that while moisturizers and creams do share some common properties, both skin care products also have some key differences. Understanding the differences between moisturizer vs cream can help you decide which one you need to add to your skincare arsenal.

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Table of Contents

Body Moisturizer by CETAPHIL, Hydrating Moisturizing Lotion for All Skin Types, Suitable for Sensitive Skin, NEW 20 oz, Fragrance Free, Hypoallergenic, Non-Comedogenic

Moisturizer vs Cream: Similarities

Are creams and moisturizers the same thing?  No, but they do share some similarities.

Let’s start by looking at the similarities both of these skincare products share:

  • Purpose:  Moisturizers and creams both help hydrate dry skin.  Creams and moisturizers can both help ensure the skin gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy.  They can also help reduce dark circles, pimples, and other blemishes.
  • Ingredients:  Moisturizers and creams are both made using a mix of oil and water.
  • Intended areas for use:  Moisturizers and creams can both be used on different areas of the body.  There are even products designed for use on one particular area, such as facial creams or facial moisturizers.

Moisturizer vs Cream: Differences

Sometimes the word moisturizer is used to refer to any cream or lotion.  However, the two terms actually refer to different products with distinct properties.

Here are some of the key differences between cream vs moisturizer that can help you answer the question, “should I use cream or moisturizer”:

  • Ingredient ratio:  Moisturizers and creams may both be made using water and oil, but the two ingredients represent different ratios in each product.  Creams have about a 50/50 ratio of water to oil, while moisturizers have a greater water content.
  • Consistency:  The greater ratio of water to oil in a moisturizer gives them a thinner consistency than creams.  Moisturizers are also lighter in weight than creams.  This means they are absorbed by the skin more quickly.  The thicker consistency of a cream, on the other hand, allows it to create more of a barrier on the skin for lasting hydration.
  • Skin Types:  Skin type can impact which product is best for you.  Thinner moisturizers are often sufficient to keep normal to slightly dry skin hydrated, while thicker creams may be necessary for those with extremely dry or chapped skin.

Now, you may be asking, “can I use a moisturizer instead of cream?”  This will depend on your skin type.

If your skin is very dry and chapped, a moisturizer may not be thick enough to deliver the hydration you need.  However, if your skin is normal or only slightly dry, then a moisturizer instead of a cream may be sufficient.

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Making the Decision: Is Moisturizer or Cream Better for You?

The differences between creams and moisturizers can impact which one is right for you.  The answer to cream or moisturizer for oily skin and cream or moisturizer for dry skin can vary.  If you have oily skin, the thinner consistency of a moisturizer, such as Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion or Image Skincare  Vital C Hydrating Intense Moisturizer, may be ideal for your skin.  Moisturizers are less likely to clog your pores than thicker and heavier creams.  On the other hand, if you have overly dry or cracked skin, a moisturizer may not be thick enough for your needs.  You may find that a thick cream, like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or Burt’s Bees Firming Moisturizing Cream, that can really create a good seal on your skin to lock in moisture is better for you.

In some cases, you may find that using moisturizer and cream together can help ensure your skin is sufficiently hydrated and smooth.  In this case, when deciding between cream or moisturizer first, you should apply the moisturizer first, followed by the cream.  When applying skin care products, the lightest should be applied first and the heaviest applied last.

For more about skincare, here are related reads on our blog:

By Ellis James

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  1. Hello there! So happy to stop by your site again! Finally after a short break and first of all I hope you’re having a fantastic 2022 so far!

    And thanks for another meaningful, useful and interesting blog post. I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t know the differences between a moisturizer versus a cream. I actually used to think that they were just synonims, so you discovered a whole new world for me!

    Good to see that you gave us a few recommendations from the real life at the end of the post! And some of them are really budget-friendly 🙂


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