Ever run out of your daily face cream before you had the opportunity to buy more? Maybe you reached for your regular body lotion instead.
“What’s the harm?” you might have wondered. “They’re both moisturizers.”
Plus, since body lotion comes in a bigger (and often more affordable) container, using lotion might seem like an instant way to save money.
But here’s the thing: Body lotion doesn’t contain exactly the same ingredients as products intended for your face, even if the two look similar once they’re outside the bottle.
Here’s what to know about the difference between facial creams and body lotions and how to use them effectively.
When it comes to your face, you should probably skip the body lotion.
In a nutshell, your skin on your face is different from your skin on the rest of your body — so they need different care regiments.
“The skin on the face is much thinner and more delicate,” explains Dr. Anna Chacon, a dermatologist in Weston, Florida.
Your skin on your eyelids is some of the thinnest, most delicate skin on your whole body, next to your skin in your groin. According to Acne.org, facial skin also has smaller pores that contain a higher concentration of skin oil glands, making it more prone to acne.
“Meanwhile, skin on your back and feet is often very thick,” she continues. This skin has larger pores, but it’s also stronger and more resilient.
Facial skin care products and body skin care products tend to reflect these differences.
In short, face and body products serve different purposes.
“Products made for the body are generally stronger in terms of moisturizing or exfoliating the body,” explains Dr. Renée Moran, a board certified anesthesiologist who also performs cosmetic procedures.
In other words, they could be too tough or aggressive for the sensitive skin on your face. Facial creams, on the other hand, are specially designed to protect this delicate skin.
Many facial skin care products also have a more specific purpose, such as treating acne or reducing the appearance of redness or discoloration, dark spots, or wrinkles. These skin concerns tend to show up more commonly on your face, due to its thinner skin and extra oil glands.
In fact, you’ll notice that many facial products aren’t lotions at all. Instead, they’re creams. “Creams are often richer, while lotions are more water-based and liquid in form,” explains Chacon.
Facial skin also spends a lot more time exposed to the elements, like heat, cold, or the sun’s UV rays. Consequently, many facial products have a dual purpose: They help protect facial skin from potential damage while also working to improve any skin concerns you might have.
They also contain different ingredients
Since face creams and body lotions serve different skin care roles, they contain different ingredients.
Body lotions usually contain moisturizing ingredients, like butters or oils, to lock in moisture. However, these heavier ingredients can worsen skin concerns like acne.
You might also choose a body lotion based on how appealing you find its fragrance — but those fragrances can easily irritate more delicate skin.
Facial lotions and creams, meanwhile, tend to contain more active ingredients that help manage skin concerns. These ingredients tend to have a higher cost, so they’re often not included with body lotions.
What’s more, your facial cream has most likely gone through a more rigorous testing process to make sure it’s both safe and effective at doing what it advertises — reducing the appearance of dark circles, for example.
That said, while you’ll generally want to avoid using body lotion on your face, using facial cream on your body is probably just fine.
“I have done this when traveling,” Chacon notes.
Since body lotions are designed for tougher, thicker skin, you run the risk of aggravating the delicate skin on your face.
As a result, you might notice some of the following side effects:
- redness or discoloration
- stinging or burning
- itching and other irritation
- acne breakouts
These side effects are particularly common across areas of more delicate skin, like your eyelids. You might also have a higher chance of side effects if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
If you have an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, using body lotion on your face could lead to even more irritation.
(Video) What to NEVER Put On Your Face! - Dr. Anthony Youn
If you really need to moisturize your face, body lotion can work, in a pinch. Still, some types will probably offer a little more benefit — not to mention a lower risk of side effects.
Moran recommends a lighter lotion, especially if you have more oily facial skin.
You’ll generally want to stick to unscented lotions, no matter what skin type you have.
It never hurts to choose a moisturizer with vitamins, either. In particular, vitamins C and E help protect new skin and fight skin damage. Vitamins A and B5 can help moisturize and boost firmness.
One lotion you’ll always want to avoid putting on your face? Hand lotion.
These formulas are even thicker than body lotions, since they’re designed to stay on your hands as you go about your day. In other words, they can easily clog the smaller pores in your face and trigger breakouts.
It’s generally best to steer clear of thick body butters, for the same reason.
Moisturizing your skin, on your face and your body, offers plenty of benefits, including:
- helping prevent dry skin
- reducing itchiness and inflammation
- firming and plumping skin, helping reduce the appearance of fine lines
- promoting growth of new skin cells
- protecting new skin
Of course, using the right kind of moisturizer can go a long way toward helping you achieve those benefits.
On your body, you can use a heavier lotion. On your face, though, you’ll typically want to aim for a product that’s:
- noncomedogenic (which means it won’t clog your pores)
The University of Tennessee says that choosing a moisturizer with sunscreen can also help you protect your skin from sun damage.
Keep in mind that many moisturizers have also undergone testing for common allergies and skin sensitivities. It may be worth considering these products, especially if you have sensitive skin.
It can also help to choose a moisturizer designed for your specific skin type. If you have dry skin, for example, you may want to choose a moisturizer with active emollient ingredients, like ceramides or peptides.
Not sure about your skin type? This guide can help.
You can also get more insight by talking with a dermatologist or skin care expert.
Keeping these tips in mind can help smooth the way toward healthier skin:
- Wash your face (and body) with warm — not hot — water. Very hot water can dry out your skin.
- When washing, massage skin gently instead of scrubbing roughly.
- Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing or air-drying. Gently patting your skin helps it retain some of its natural moisture.
- Moisturize your skin twice a day after cleansing, gently massaging moisturizer into your skin with upward strokes.
- If your moisturizer doesn’t have sunscreen in it, or has a lower SPF, make sure to apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen before going outside.
- Look for a moisturizer that matches your skin type: oily, dry, normal, combination, or sensitive.
If you notice any ongoing skin concerns, a dermatologist or skin care expert can offer more guidance.
Get more tips on moisturizing.
Putting body lotion on your face once or twice probably won’t cause any lasting harm. All the same, body lotion isn’t meant for facial skin, so it could make some skin concerns worse.
Sticking to products specifically formulated for your face will generally do more to benefit your skin in the long run.
It's best to stick to moisturizing products designed for your face. Facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than body skin. Body lotion tends to be thicker and can lead to redness or discoloration, dryness, acne, and irritation if used on your face.Can I just use body lotion on my face? ›
The bottom line
Putting body lotion on your face once or twice probably won't cause any lasting harm. All the same, body lotion isn't meant for facial skin, so it could make some skin concerns worse. Sticking to products specifically formulated for your face will generally do more to benefit your skin in the long run.
After all, there's a reason why they are called a 'face' cream and a 'body' lotion. A face cream has more active ingredients and is specialised to cater to specific needs such as brightening or hydrating. However, body lotions mainly cater to concerns regarding firming or deeply moisturising your body.Can you put body lotion from Bath and body Works on your face? ›
You can use your face cream on your body but you can't use body creams or lotions on the face because they're so greasy and also made with fragrances wich can cause inflammation, redness and also breakouts.What to do if you forgot face moisturizer? ›
Out of moisturizer? Try an eye cream. In a pinch, eye cream can be used (sparingly) as a night moisturizer. Eye creams are formulated with moisturizing agents to keep the eye area moist, but these properties will serve its purpose to keep the face hydrated.Is it necessary to use face lotion? ›
In short, yes. "A daily moisturizer is necessary to maintain your skin's moisture barrier and to prevent environmental damage to your skin," Weinstein Velez explains.Should I put lotion on my face before bed? ›
"Skin's oil production peaks at midday, and there is less oil production at night. Therefore, when you lose that protective layer of natural oils, your skin loses more water, so it's important to replenish the water loss with a moisturizer overnight," says Sobel. "While you are asleep the skin goes into renewal mode.Is lotion or moisturizer better for face? ›
Depending on your skin type, you can get away with using a lotion instead of a moisturizing cream. Those with oily to normal skin are suited for lotions with a lightweight consistency. However, if you have dry or dehydrated skin, we recommend using a thicker moisturizer.Should I use cream or lotion on my face? ›
Lotions are usually formulated with more water content than creams and are considered lightweight and easily absorbed by your skin. Creams are generally thicker in consistency than lotions and make an ideal choice for people with dry skin on their face or body, or for use during the drier winter months.Is vaseline good for your face? ›
Vaseline is a moisturizing product that is safe for most people to put on their face. People can apply Vaseline to help with short-term skin concerns, such as temporary skin dryness or irritation. Vaseline is also suitable as a long-term moisturizer.
Yes, it is gentle enough to use on your face. How does Skin Firming preparation work? The formula combines essential moisturisers with botanical extracts and firming/tightening polymers. All of these ingredients work together over time to smooth the skin's surface, leaving it looking and feeling firmer.Can I use Aveeno lotion on my face? ›
While it is not designed as a facial cream, and there are other Aveeno brand products designed for facial care use specifically, there are not any active ingredients in the Aveeno Moisturizing Lotion (for the body) that are harmful or dangerous if used on the face, so the short answer is generally yes.What does putting lotion on your face everyday do? ›
Moisturizing Reduces Skin Problems - Moisturizing everyday can reduce the chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness. Both extremes are harmful for skin and cause common skin conditions like acne. Conceals Other Skin Blemishes - Using a daily moisturizer ensures that the skin's blemishes are camouflaged.Is vaseline or lotion better for face? ›
Those with very dry skin on their faces may benefit from using Vaseline as a moisturizer. However, if you have acne-prone skin, you should avoid putting Vaseline on your faces. Doing so may trigger breakouts and can make acne worse.What are the benefits of putting lotion on your face? ›
Brightening qualities are sometimes embedded in lotion to show up as tiny sparkling flecks on the skin when applied. Some cosmetic lotions can brighten the skin to remove dull, dead flakes and rejuvenate underlying tissues.What happens if you don't apply anything on your face? ›
1. You could develop more wrinkles. That's right: Leaving moisturizer out of your routine today could lead to deeper wrinkles later on. "When the skin barrier is compromised, which is what we see when it becomes dry, there's actually a low-grade chronic inflammation that occurs in the skin," warns dermatologist Dr.How can I hydrate my face? ›
- Use a Gentle Cleanser. ...
- Use an Eye Serum. ...
- Use Facial Spray for Midday Moisture. ...
- Skip the Long, Hot Showers. ...
- Switch Your Products With the Season. ...
- Add Water-Rich Foods to Your Diet.
- Limit your showers to 5 or 10 minutes in lukewarm water.
- Use gentle soaps, laundry detergents, and cosmetics.
- Turn on a humidifier during the winter.
- Drink extra water throughout the day.
Not moisturizing will slowly dry your skin out and make it look flaky. This will only get worse in the winter. In fact, if you run a nail across dry skin, you'll end up scratching it easily since you're rapidly losing water. What's worse is that these scratches could be permanent.Why do dermatologists say not to use moisturizer? ›
Another reason Dr Obagi is against moisturiser: He believes that if you use it daily over time, it can change your skin's natural balance of water, lipids, and proteins. The result? Your body will stop delivering the skin's normal, natural method of hydration from within.
- Milk. Milk is a great ingredient for your skin. ...
- Coconut oil. Most people use coconut oil for hair but you can also apply coconut oil on your face to get glowing skin! ...
- Almond oil. Almond oil is great for your skin. ...
- Rose Water. Rosewater is undoubtedly a magic potion for beauty. ...
- Honey. advertisement. ...
- Aloe vera gel. ...
Using a moisturizing, antioxidant-rich lotion on your face before bed can help your skin stay vibrant and protect against the effects of aging.Should I apply anything on face at night? ›
It minimises signs of ageing when you use moisturizers with retinol or retinoid in them. Moisturizers can help skin replenish its moisture levels at night; however, it is always advisable to sleep with bare skin to allow your skin to breathe.Can I use Lubriderm on my face? ›
Can I use LUBRIDERM products on my face? LUBRIDERM products have been carefully formulated to meet the specific moisturizing needs of the body. However, you can apply LUBRIDERM products to the face. First try it on a small patch of facial skin before applying liberally.Can I use CeraVe lotion on my face? ›
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream can be applied as a face cream or body cream to help restore the appearance of hydrated, healthy-looking skin. This makes it a convenient skincare option for anyone who prefers formulas that can be used on multiple areas.How often should I put lotion on my face? ›
How Often Should You Use a Face Moisturizer? Generally accepted advice about the use of moisturizers is to apply it twice daily––every morning and every night. It's the most commonly accepted practice because it ensures that the moisture content of your skin remains constant throughout the entire 24 hour period.Can I put lotion on my face without washing it? ›
As the back of the bottle says, you should always apply moisturizer to clean skin—and for maximum results, shortly after cleansing, before your skin is totally dry. Moisturizers are most effective if you use them while your skin is still damp because damp skin absorbs the product more readily.Can I use body lotion for moisturizer? ›
Body lotion is moisturiser designed to use all over your body. In much the same way we moisturise our face every day, our body benefits from a daily dose of hydration. Body lotions tend to be richer than face moisturisers and are sometimes formulated to tackle specific issues, such as cellulite or toning.Why not to wash face in the morning? ›
Benefits of not washing your face in the morning
My dermatologist explained to me that skipping my morning cleanse could help with my skin's dryness, as it would be one less thing stripping my skin of its natural oils (even though I was using a hydrating cleanser).
How Often Should You Use a Face Moisturizer? Generally accepted advice about the use of moisturizers is to apply it twice daily––every morning and every night. It's the most commonly accepted practice because it ensures that the moisture content of your skin remains constant throughout the entire 24 hour period.
Can I use LUBRIDERM® products on my face? LUBRIDERM® products have been carefully formulated to meet the specific moisturizing needs of the body. However, you can apply LUBRIDERM® products to the face. First try it on a small patch of facial skin before applying liberally.