Beauty 101

What's The Difference: Gel, Cream & Lotion

Tiffany Ong Beauty Expert
What's The Difference: Gel, Cream & Lotion

What's the difference between gel, cream & lotion moisturizers?

Skincare can be very confusing and hard to delve into when you first start out, it’s the same for everyone. No one is born a professional, it takes time, experience and countless trials and errors. One of the most common question we face is “What are the differences between the types of textures for moisturizers?”. So today, let’s talk about that. We’ll be covering 3 types of moisturizer textures; Gel, Cream and Lotion.



gel moisturizer texture

Gel moisturizers are more suitable for people with oily, combination or acne-prone skin because it has a lighter and more watery texture compared to creams and lotions. They tend to contain oil-free humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid and natural moisturizing factors that are capable of attracting and sealing water molecules in the skin without that typical greasy feeling. There are instances where gels do include a small quantity of oils, usually less than 5%. If it’s anything higher it’s no longer a gel. Gels are also preferable for those who are looking for a matte effect or anyone living in very hot or humid climates so that their skin feels more comfortable.

Threebs recommends:

Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Gel Cream

Dear, Klairs Fundamental Water Gel Cream

Benton Real Cool Soothing Gel

COSRX Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream



cream moisturizer texture

Cream moisturizers are more suitable for people with dry, sensitive or rough skin as they have a richer and more emollient texture than gels. This is because they have a higher composition of fat in their formulation (a 50-50 oil-to-water ratio), making them feel slightly oilier on the skin as it actually provides a protective and nourishing effect. Creams helps to prevent the natural oils from being released from our skin. Some examples of fats used includes shea butter, essential fatty acids, Vitamin F, phospholids and oils. Creams are more preferred anyone living in colder and drier climates as the skin is less likely to dry out. Something to note about creams is that some brands would have developed a formula that allows creams to have a very lightweight consistency and be easily absorbed into the skin, which is why they promote themselves to be lightweight and non-greasy. 

Threebs recommends:

Cerave Moisturising Cream

Dr.Jart+ Ceramidin Cream

COSRX Comfort Ceramide Cream

KraveBeauty Oat So Simple Water Cream



lotion moisturizer texture

Moisturizers that are indicated as lotions are suitable for all skin types as its texture lies in the middle between a gel and cream. It is designed to be absorbed into the skin quickly and deliver moisture and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. So, if you feel like a gel moisturizer is not hydrating enough but a cream moisturizer is too thick for your liking, consider a lotion type as it has a lower fat composition than creams but is not oil-free like gels. There are also cases where some products will be called lotions but has a liquid consistency very similar to a toner/essence. Such products indicate that it is thicker and more hydrating than toners but less than a serum. 

Threebs recommends:

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion 


Final Notes

There are some moisturizers that include the either the words cream, gel or lotion at the end which gives a good indication as to what type of texture is that moisturizer. However, there are cases where some moisturizers don’t specify anything and leaves it at just “moisturizer”, now what does this mean? Moisturizers are meant to restore moisture back into the skin and creams, like we stated, have a higher oil content and requires more time to be absorbed. Most of the time, just “moisturizers” will have a lotion to cream-like texture, unless they state that it dedicated for oily to combination skin, then we can assume that it has a more gel consistency.

I hope this blog has helped you in any way and if you have anything to add or ask, feel free to join in conversation below! We’ll gladly answer all questions to the best of our ability and help you in any way we can!

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