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Lotion vs Cream vs Ointment


Fighting dry skin can seem like a losing battle, especially when you've tried every body moisturizer to no avail. But are lotions truly the way to go if you want to effectively moisturize your skin? Or should you think about using a cream or ointment? There is a difference in both how they work and their effectiveness.


Ointments are mostly oil and are very greasy. They are thick, so they prevent your skin from losing water and don't have to be reapplied very often because aren't absorbed quickly. They are sticky and hard to spread on your skin, especially on hairy areas.

Ointments are very moisturizing and are the best emollients for very dry or thick skin. They can stain your clothes and are messy, so many people prefer to use them only at night while they sleep. Most ointments don't have any preservatives, so your skin is less likely to have a bad reaction to it.


Creams have a balance of oil and water. This makes them easy to spread on your skin, but they are less moisturizing than an ointment. They have enough oil to trap the water in your skin, but they are less greasy and messy. They are lighter and easier to apply than ointments, which makes them good to use during the daytime. They are also heavier and more moisturizing than lotions, which makes them good for nighttime use, too. Your skin absorbs a cream emollient relatively quickly, so you need to reapply it more often than ointments.


Lotions are mostly water with only a small amount of oil. They're the least moisturizing of the three types of emollients. Since they're a liquid, they're easy to spread on your scalp and other areas of your body that are hairy.

Lotion is good for daytime use because they're thin and easy to apply. But you have to reapply lotions more frequently because your skin absorbs them quickly. Most lotions have preservatives in them, so it's more likely your skin will have a bad reaction to them. Before you use a new lotion, test it on a small patch of skin to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction.

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