Face cream and moisturiser: identical or different products?

Face cream and moisturiser: identical or different products?

In the world of skincare, there are countless different products you can choose from, many of which fulfill distinct functions in your routine.

Depending on where you live, you might hear the terms cream and moisturiser and assume they’re different names for a similar product.

Since face care products are often targeted to specific concerns like anti-ageing or hydrating, it’s crucial to understand precisely what you’re applying to your face.

Let’s learn about these products.

Moisturiser and cream

Moisturiser is an umbrella term that refers to any product whose primary function is to add moisture to your skin. Face cream falls under that umbrella — it’s a kind of moisturiser.


A good facial moisturizer, as the name implies, is a lotion-style product that you apply to your face to add, improve, or retain moisture in the skin.

Of course, there are a few different kinds of moisturiser, each of which may have a slightly different texture. Generally, moisturisers are slightly more liquid than creams.

The lighter consistency of the product means that it sinks into the skin much more easily when applied and has a minimal chance of clogging your pores because of the high water content in the formula.

If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road consistency, choose a creamy-feeling moisturiser. For really lightweight wear, choose a gel product instead.

Moisturisers form a barrier between your precious skin and whatever environment you’re in. They keep pollution and other external stressors at arm’s length. You’ll probably want to reach for a moisturiser instead of a cream if you:

  • Have naturally oily or combination skin
  • Live in a very hot climate where you may sweat a lot.

Moisturisers work for either day or night-time use, depending on your needs.

Do your skincare products really benefit your skincare routine?


What makes cream a little bit different from other kinds of moisturiser is that it usually contains both water and oil-based components.

Of course, the ratio of these components, the ingredients, the texture of the product, and its specific targets will vary from brand to brand, but this difference is more or less universal.

Cream is often far thicker and ‘creamier’ than regular moisturiser due to the oil or wax content, hence the name.

All creams have a moisturising effect on the face; this is the primary purpose of any cream or moisturiser product that you purchase for facial use. The oil content in the average cream means that it is likely to be the right product for you if:

  • You live in a climate where the weather is incredibly cold or dry
  • Your skin type is naturally dry and in need of very intense moisturising.

 Since face cream may take some time to sink into the skin, it’s more likely to be a night-time product (except in the above cases) than a daytime one. Creams tend to contain more rejuvenating and nourishing ingredients than regular moisturisers do.

What to look for in each product


Since this product is most likely to be used during the day, you should select a moisturiser with an SPF in the formula.

Leading products contain vitamin C, which is a great ingredient to find in any moisturiser since it helps to boost collagen production (which means bouncy, elastic skin), evens out the pigmentation in your complexion, protects against the sun’s harsh rays, and helps any little abrasions or cuts to heal faster.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an excellent moisture retainer, so it’s a good choice as an ingredient. Take into consideration your personal skincare concerns as well.

Health meets beauty: How to start a holistic skin care routine


Cream is more likely to be a night-time product unless you live in a cold or dry climate. If this is the case, look for a cream with an SPF. If not, there’s no need to have an SPF in a night-time cream.

Since you’ll be indoors when you use this cream, you can choose one that contains retinoids. Vitamin A derivatives like this will help with fine lines and wrinkles and minimise dark spots, but it’s essential only to use retinoids when you’re not in the sun.

A little vitamin E wouldn’t go amiss either — to help heal the skin and brighten your complexion. Hyaluronic acid comes in moisturisers and creams, but it gets the chance to work a little harder overnight when you’re resting.

Which product should you choose?

Choose the product that best fits your routine and suits your needs. There’s no rule saying you can’t use both!

Try out a light moisturiser during the day and heavy cream at night. Or you could try switching up your moisturising routine as the seasons change: in the summer, use a moisturiser during the day. When winter rolls around and it gets cold out, use a cream during the day.

Skincare is a journey, and there are a lot of steps along the way. Try out different products from well-known brands to see which ones give you the best results, and read brand reviews or customer testimonials to help you along the way. Before you know it, you’ll find your perfect products.