What are the different types of moisturizers?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

There are many different types of moisturizers; those that are formulated specifically for day or night wear, those that target a specific skin type, and those that target a specific skin problem are just a few examples.


The degree to which moisturizing products smooth, soften, and hydrate skin depends on the type.
  • Gels disperse a moisturizer's ingredients either by a water, alcohol, or liquid fat base. They feel cool on the skin because of rapid evaporation of the base shortly after application. They are typically the lightest and least greasy-feeling moisturizers.
  • Lotions consist of dry, powdered ingredients dissolved in water. Lotions are relatively light moisturizers that absorb quickly into the skin and usually do not feel greasy.
  • Creams are heavier than lotions and are generally more effective at moisturizing and protecting the skin. They consist of a water and oil emulsion. Creams are stickier and feel greasier than lotions.
  • Ointments are thick preparations and have the highest oil concentration of all moisturizers. They are the heaviest and stickiest as well.

Remember that the heavier a moisturizer is, the better it will be at preventing water loss. However, heavy moisturizers also can clog pores, trapping dirt, oil, and bacteria, which may provoke breakouts.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.