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What is the Difference Between Face Cream and Body Lotion?

Face cream and body lotion cater to different skin needs; the former is typically richer, designed for the delicate facial skin, while the latter is lighter, for the less sensitive body. Ingredients and absorption levels vary to address these distinct areas. Wondering how to choose the right one for your skin type? Let's explore the nuances that make each unique.
Y. Chen
Y. Chen

The big difference between face cream and body lotion is, of course, where people apply it. There are many different brands of skin care products on the market, with different formulas catering to select areas of the human body. Not only are there general face creams and body lotions, there are also eye serums, foot lotions, lip balms, and even cuticle creams. While the brand names and price may vary significantly among creams and lotions, the basic formula and method of use are usually pretty constant.

The face is usually the first part of the body that people see upon meeting each other and the source of most people's first visual impression. In order to preserve the youthful and fresh appearance of the facial skin, cosmetologists and dermatologists recommend that individuals use a face cream daily to keep the skin soft and healthy. It is important for preventing the signs of premature aging, especially since the face is the first body part to show the signs of excessive alcohol use, smoking, fatigue, and stress. Facial skin also secretes more oily sebum from its pores than other body parts, especially when exposed to sunlight. This makes the face is a high risk area for skin damage, and it must be protected early on.

A face cream.
A face cream.

The body, on the other hand, is everywhere below the neck and is often concealed under clothes, depending on weather. Because the body's skin is subject to less environmental damage, signs of premature aging are often not as common, although this may be less true for people who tan or spend a lot of time in the sun. If a person is not well hydrated, then he or she may have trouble retaining moisture in the skin, making it feel coarse and dry.

Body lotion is convenient to apply after a shower.
Body lotion is convenient to apply after a shower.

Face cream usually contains a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) due to its higher exposure to sun. Some also claim to combat dryness, imbalances in sebum production, and acne, based on their ingredients. For example, creams that contains alpha hydroxy acid, an enzyme that eats away the dull, dead layers of the skin to reveal a rejuvenated layer underneath, have been recommended by dermatologists for younger people. For older people, face creams that actively fight signs of aging by reducing lines and wrinkles are desirable. These products are usually categorized by the type of skin they are intended to treat: dry, normal, oily, and combination. These different types of skin vary based on distribution of sebum production and all require different formulas.

Some face creams are meant to treat acne.
Some face creams are meant to treat acne.

Body lotion is usually a quickly absorbable formula that is intended to retain or replenish lost moisture. Skin that is well hydrated is also usually softer and smoother. Body lotions usually contain more water than oil, creating a thinner formula that is appropriate for daily, all-over use. Many people find it convenient to apply it right after a shower to help seal in the moisture, or before going outdoors. Unlike products for the face, body lotion comes in many scents. While facial skin is more sensitive to fragrance and other additives, body skin is naturally less prone to such irritation.

Body lotions often are scented and typically contain various oils for moisturizing the skin.
Body lotions often are scented and typically contain various oils for moisturizing the skin.

Manufacturers of both these products have featured plant extracts, essential volatile oils, and emollients in their products, to try to enhance the lotion's marketable properties. Both face cream and body lotion can be found at any retailer where skin care products are sold.

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Discussion Comments


Before you think it, I want it to be known, I am not old. But I learned from my mother, who learned from my grandmother, that if you don't want to look old when you are old, then you must take steps to prevent that before you get that way.

For my grandmother, it was cucumbers, oils, vinegar, and all kinds of natural remedies. For me, it is Made from Earth's Vitamin Face Firming Serum. I use it daily, and people even are astounded now when they ask my age. They are amazed that my skin looks great and so young looking. It is awesome. It is worth what it costs, as it is pricey (but then all products of this nature are). It is worth what it costs, though, since it does work wonders. It produces stunning results.

In fact, it works so good it is recommended by almost all who have tried or used it.


I wonder how much expensive face creams really do help in preventing lines and wrinkles? My mom is in her 80's and has never used face cream or moisturizer on her face.

She has very few wrinkles compared to many women her age. It makes me wonder if the wrinkles you get on your face have more to do with genetics and the aging process than using an expensive face cream.


I have body lotion at different places in my house, in my desk at work and in my purse. This is a hand and body lotion, and I use it all over my body.

When I get out of the shower I like to put on body lotion because it really soaks into your skin and makes it feel soft. I also love all the different scents there are to choose from.

When it comes to my face cream I prefer something that is unscented. I'm not really sensitive to fragrance like some people are, but just like something on my face that doesn't clash with other scents.


@zenmaster-- If I didn't have any other options I would use my body lotion for a face cream. I think this would be better than using nothing at all. Otherwise I would buy two separate products because they are each made for specific reasons.

I know what you mean about the cost though. Usually a small jar of face cream costs more than a large container of body lotion that goes a long way. I have tried using body lotion as a face cream, but I think it makes my face feel too greasy.


As you age your face needs all the help and moisture it can get. I see face cream and moisturizer as basically being the same thing and I never leave home without it.

I use a different face cream on my face in the morning than I do in the evening. In the morning I apply a face cream that has a higher SPF factor to help protect my face from the sun. My morning face cream also has a lighter texture than the one I use at night and doesn't feel heavy under my makeup.

I apply a face cream each night before I go to bed that is heavier and has a lot of moisturizing properties. Using a good face cream regularly is one of the best things you can do to keep your face looking young.


@healthy4life – It does seem like most body lotions are rather simple and inexpensive, while face creams are so specialized and often costly. You see a lot more special ingredients advertised on face cream commercials than you do with body lotion ads, too.

Retinol, alpha-hydroxy, and vitamin C face creams are all kinds that boast some sort of special function. Body lotions usually just contain aloe or jojoba oil for moisturizing, but you don't hear about to many of them containing expensive ingredients for a special purpose.


I have to stay away from moisturizing face creams. My nose and chin are naturally oily, so putting something that would hydrate them on top of them would really make my face an oil slick.

However, my body needs extra moisture. I use a body lotion for dry skin after I shower, and it never makes me feel greasy or slick. That's because my skin absorbs the much needed moisture rather quickly, so it doesn't sit on top.


I use an anti-aging face cream, and it has a more complex texture than a body lotion. It feels like a cold cream, but it spreads across my skin like a mousse.

It amazes me that something can feel one way to the touch and behave another way when spread. With body lotion, what you feel at first is what you get. There really are no surprises there.


You can find both firming face cream and firming body lotion. I have used both of these products, and once I apply them, I can feel my skin instantly tightening.

The face cream is good for people who have noticed a slight sagging of their skin. My eyelids and the area around my nose were starting to sag, but after I started using this cream, I look a lot better.

I like using the body lotion on my thighs. It helps reduce the appearance of cellulite.

The face cream is a lot thicker than the body lotion, but a little bit goes a long way. I dab it on carefully, spreading it as far as it will go. With the lotion, I just slather a handful around, because it isn't nearly as expensive as the face cream.


Are there situations in which it's better to use a natural face cream and body lotion versus a synthetic one?

Is there a rule of thumb on these things?


@zenmaster -- They do make combination face and skin creams, but you really might consider investing in some face cream products.

Most body lotions are not designed for the face, and you're just not going to get the same effect.

If you really want to you can even use a body sunscreen as your face cream, but again, if you want to get the same effect as a face cream you're going to have to actually use one.


Is it ever appropriate to use a body lotion as your face cream?

I would really like to avoid shelling out for one of those fancy organic face creams, so is there any type of body lotion that I could use? Do they even make skin and face creams?

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    • A face cream.
      By: picsfive
      A face cream.
    • Body lotion is convenient to apply after a shower.
      By: studiovespa
      Body lotion is convenient to apply after a shower.
    • Some face creams are meant to treat acne.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      Some face creams are meant to treat acne.
    • Body lotions often are scented and typically contain various oils for moisturizing the skin.
      By: StockPhotosArt
      Body lotions often are scented and typically contain various oils for moisturizing the skin.