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Lotions vs. Creams- What is the difference? What's right for my feet?

We all want soft, hydrated, smooth skin. But, how does skin get that way? There are so many choices when it comes to moisturizers that it can be overwhelming and confusing, especially since they are all packaged very similarly.

So, what is the difference between lotions and creams? After all, they look the same- both are packaged in a variety of tubes, tubs, and bottles labeled as “moisturizing lotion” or “hydrating skin cream” and you use them the same, so surely, they must be the same, right? However, the answer is NO. Both lotions and creams are mixtures of oil and water, but each type of moisturizer has their own unique composition of ingredients and benefits.




What is lotion?

Lotions are typically sold in bottles and have a liquid consistency. This is because lotions have a higher water percentage compared to creams. Lotions are lightweight, non-greasy and quickly absorbed by the skin. The downside to lotions is that they do not last very long on the skin. Lotion is excellent for normal to slightly dry skin, especially during the summer weather when you want a non-greasy formula that absorbs quickly when applied. This water-based moisturizer can be used all over the body.


What is cream?

Creams are typically sold in tubs or tubes instead of bottles. This is because creams have a higher oil percentage compared to lotions and are denser and richer with a thick consistency. This makes it easier to apply with fingers rather than the squirt of a bottle. Creams are a better choice for dehydrated or thick skin as it penetrates more deeply and is not as quickly absorbed as lotions. This makes creams ideal for use during the colder months in the winter season. Creams work better than lotions to keep the skin ultra-hydrated for extended periods of time. The downside to creams is that they may feel thicker and greasier when applied.


Which formula should I choose for my dry, cracked feet?

Both lotions and creams are moisturizers made from a combination of water and oil intended to hydrate your skin. It is important to understand the purposes of both formulas and use the moisturizers appropriately.


As a podiatrist, part of my physical examination of your feet includes the dermatological exam. It is my duty to examine your skin and take note of its texture and integrity. As a result, I may recommend a moisturizer to you if you have dry, cracked feet. I typically recommend a cream to moisturize your feet due to the thick skin on the plantar soles of your feet. The thicker, denser formula of creams allow it to penetrate skin better and create a protective barrier for your skin that lasts longer than lotion. The secret to lock in moisture is to apply it immediately after your shower when your skin is still slightly damp to seal in the moisture. Make sure you dry in between the toes well, and avoid applying moisturizer in between the toes as this can cause your skin to macerate and break down. Then, wear some socks!


Show your skin some tender, loving, care by applying moisturizer to it after your next shower. Let me know in the comments if you have a preference for creams or lotions, and if there is something you love to pamper your feet with!


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