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What is the Difference Between Moisturizer and Cream?

What is the Difference Between Moisturizer and Cream?

When choosing skincare products to apply to your face, it’s essential to understand their formulations and how they work. Like differentiating essences, serums, and ampoules, it can be quite confusing to pick between a moisturizer and a cream to add to your routine.  

Moisturizers and creams do a good job of helping your skin become healthy, glowing, and supple. Sometimes, they are used interchangeably due to similarities in their ingredients and benefits, but there are differences between them. 

Choosing between a moisturizer and a cream can be challenging if you don’t understand their functions, and how your skin can benefit from the best option. In general, a moisturizer is lighter and contains more water than oil, whereas a cream tends to be heavier or thicker in consistency due to having a higher oil content.


What Is the Difference Between Cream and Moisturizer?

What is a Cream

Commonly used for cosmetic or medical purposes, a cream is a type of moisturizer that contains a blend of water, oil, wax, and other beneficial ingredients. It usually has a higher oil content, which is why the texture of creams is usually thicker and richer in consistency. Usually, because creams are heavier, they are more suitable for dry skin types or to be used in colder weather. Aside from that, creams also tend to contain more restorative and anti-ageing properties, making them ideal to apply at night to rejuvenate the skin. 

What Is a Moisturizer

A moisturizer is great for water retention, and is usually used as a broader term because it comes in different types. However, most moisturizers tend to be lighter in consistency and can be easily absorbed into the skin without clogging pores, thanks to their higher level of water content. They form a moisturizing barrier on the skin to prevent water loss while protecting it from external aggressors such as dirt, pollution, and more. Because of their thinner, lightweight texture, moisturizers are ideal for oily-combination skin types, and are typically applied in the morning. Some moisturizers are also infused with more active ingredients to benefit the skin even further. Moisturizers tend to blend into the skin faster, making the skin feelsmoother afterward. They are also sometimes called “lotion”.


Key Differences Between Moisturizer and Cream

Here’s a summary of the key differences between creams and moisturizers. They both help provide moisture, maintain skin health and skin barrier health, prevent fine lines and wrinkles, provide soothing and calming benefits, and reduce irritation. Either way, cream or moisturizer is a great skincare product to apply to stop the skin from drying. Pick a moisturizer or cream that best suits your skin type and its concerns.


Creams have a thicker, richer texture and are best used for those with dry, flaky, sensitive, or mature skin types. They contain more oil content than water, and contain active ingredients to address skin concerns. For example, some creams contain retinoids or acids for powerful anti-ageing benefits. They tend to be best applied for nighttime routines, and nourish and rejuvenate the skin while you sleep.

On the other hand, a moisturizer has a lightweight, thinner texture, and is best used for those with oily, combination, or acne-prone skin types. They come in different types, such as cream, lotion, and SPF-infused moisturizers. Their light consistency lets moisturizers get absorbed into the skin once it’s blended in. 



Whether you choose a moisturizer or cream, they both serve the main purpose of preventing your skin from drying out. However, depending on the formulation, the difference between a moisturizer and a cream can be distinguished depending on their function, how compatible they are with your skin type, and what skin concerns they can address. 

Creams or moisturizers are sometimes labelled according to their main function. Brightening creams, anti-ageing creams, soothing moisturizers, and more – these products are available in the market to help address different skin concerns. 


When to Use Cream or Moisturizer

Both creams and moisturizers are typically applied to freshly cleansed skin. If you’re going to layer it in your skincare routine, you can apply a cream or moisturizer as the final step after the essence or serum. Anytime you feel your skin becoming dry, you can apply a moisturizer or cream to it.

Whether you use a cream or a moisturizer, pick one that suits your skin type the most; you can use both. For example, use moisturizer in the morning since it won’t feel too heavy when you layer sunscreen on top of it, and then at night, you can use a cream to deeply moisturize and nourish your skin. However, if you prefer to use only one product – a cream or moisturizer – you can use one to apply for both daytime and nighttime.

In the end, it all depends on your skin type, concerns, and preferences as to which product to use. For example, if you have an acne-prone combination skin type, try the ZarZou Daily Essential Moisturiser! It’s formulated with a balance of moisturizing, and soothing ingredients to keep the skin healthy and soft. It’s infused with Beta Glucan, Panthenol, Allantoin, and Centella Asiatica extract to provide hydration, strengthen the skin barrier, and protect the skin. This moisturizer can be used during the day and night and can be layered if your skin needs more hydration. 

Featured Product: ZarZou Beauty Daily Essential Moisturizer, RM59.00, Available on ZarZou Beauty here


Moisturizers and creams are great to use to hydrate the skin, and their main differences have to do with their texture, water, and oil content, and functions. A moisturizer has a lighter, non-greasy consistency, while a cream has a richer texture to provide deeper hydration. Oily, acne-prone skin types usually benefit from moisturizers more, whereas, creams are usually best suited for dry skin types. You can use either a moisturizer or a cream during the day and night. What’s important is finding the right moisturizer or cream that is compatible with your skin type and concerns.


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