The Difference Between Lotions, Creams & Oils | Growing Up Herbal | Are you wondering what the difference between lotions, creams, and oils is, and when you should use which? Today I'm sharing all about this very thing.

You’re standing in line at your local health food store to buy some lotion for your little ones skin. You’re seeing many different brands promising all sorts of great benefits, but you’re also seeing other products that promise to soften and hydrate your kiddos skin too. Things like creams and oils.

You’re overwhelmed! Which do you pick? Do you need a lotion, a cream, or an oil? What’s the difference, and which is the right one for your little one?

The Main Difference in Lotions, Creams & Oils

Lotions, creams, and oils are all very similar. They’re all meant to moisturize and soften the skin, and they can be very nourishing and soothing as well.

The main difference (aside from additives) is their oil to liquid ratio.

Oils are just as they sound. Straight up oil with no water or liquid additives. Many can be greasy and take a while to absorb into the skin while others can absorb in a matter of minutes without leaving a greasy feel.

Creams are a blend of oil and liquid with the higher percentage being oils. They’re thicker… like soft butter. They absorb quicker than oils, but their moisturizing properties tend to last longer than lotions.

Lotions are also a blend of oil and liquid, but they are the thinnest of all with the liquid being the highest percentage. They absorb into the skin quickly.

When To Use Which

When you’re needing something to moisturize your or your child’s skin, there are a couple things to consider. Lotions, creams & oils will all do the trick, but it will depend on what you need and when you use it.

First look at your child’s skin. How dry is it? Is it always dry or only during certain times of the year? 

If the skin is very dry or stays dry a lot of the time, then I’d suggest using oils for a while since they absorb more slowly and the moisturizing benefits stay in the skin longer. If the skin is only dry during certain times of the day or year, you could opt for a cream that rubs in and is absorbed quickly and easily. It will moisturize the skin for a good amount of time, but not as long as an oil will. If your child doesn’t have really dry skin, but you want to keep her skin healthy and soft, lotions are a great option. You may need to use them more frequently, but they absorb quickly and do have a moisturizing properties.

Natural Tip: Check your labels! Do not use oils, lotions, or creams with mineral oil. Mineral oil is not good for your child’s body and actually doesn’t moisturize the skin, but instead acts as a wax on the surface and tends to dry the skin out. CLICK HERE to read more about why I don’t use this ingredient here.

Next, when do you plan on using it? In the morning, before bed, after baths, repeatedly throughout the day?

The time you plan on using a moisturizing product will play a part in determining which type you choose.

Like I said earlier, oils don’t absorb as quickly, but they really moisturize and nourish the skin longer. Oils are great after baths when the skin cells are soft and fat… it’s like they’re open to receive all the goodness your oil can provide… ready to soak it up! This is my favorite time to use oils on myself and my kids. I find that the skin absorbs them quicker and we don’t stay as oily as we would if we used it on dry skin. Before bed is also the perfect time to use a body oil since you’re going to bed and you don’t need to worry about having an oily face or oil on your hands.

In the morning is a great time for creams. If I take a bath in the morning, I always use a cream afterwards. It soaks into my skin, and I can immediately put on my clothes and not feel like I’m getting oils all over them. I also use creams in the winter if my kids have chapped lips or skin from the wind. I do use it repeatedly throughout the day here because I really want it to nourish and sooth their irritated skin.

Lotions are my favorite if I need to reapply during the day like after I was my hands or if I’m using a moisturizer on my face. This is really the only time I can think of that I use lotions… when I need some nice, light moisture. It’s great to get the job done quickly!

So Which Do You Need?

I personally use them all.

My oldest son has really dry skin. Always has since he was a baby. I try to get him to eat more healthy oils in his diet, and I use oil on him more than my other boys. That, I’ve found, has worked well for him.

For me, the older I get, the more I use oils and creams. I find that my skin is aging, and I want to do all I can to keep it as nourished and healthy as possible. I’ve changed up my facial care routine and switched from soap based cleansers to oil based cleansers at night. In the morning I’ll use water moisturizers or lotion moisturizers, and I tend to use creams on my body most.

So there you have it.

Take a peak at the skin and assess it’s needs, then decide what time of day and how often you’ll be using a moisturizing product. That should guide you pretty well in choosing the right lotion, cream, or oil for your or your little’s skin.

Have any questions about lotions, creams & oils or moisturizing the skin? Ask away in the comment section below!