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Ask Dr. Schultz | Skin Care Guides | Creams, Lotions, Gels... Oh My!

Creams, Lotions, Gels... Oh My!

What a great question. Many times we are so focused on the active ingredients in products that we forget all about the vehicle. What do I mean by vehicle? Well, skincare products can be divided into two different parts, the first being the active ingredients (like gylcolic acid) and the second being the "vehicle" that these active ingredients are housed in - whether it be a serum, cream, gel, or lotion.

What's the difference?

Lotions are water-based and, therefore, they are thinner and can more easily spread across your body. Thus, they are great for head to toe applications, like sunscreen. Creamier products have less water and small amounts of oil. Because the oil makes the product thicker in viscosity, creams are great for smaller, targeted areas of your body - such as your face, neck, and hands. Gels are anything with an alcohol base. The word serum applies to virtually anything! It can be a vehicle of any thickness and type, from Vaseline to Baby Oil.

So, does it matter which one you use?

Of course it matters. If you have oily skin, you'll want to use water based product and stay away from heavier creams and lotions. Mature skin will benefit from oil based products as they will provide richer nutrients that will keep skin from becoming dry and rough. And, we can't forget combination skin - which is a common imbalance. Combo skin pairs well with water based products. Additionally, those of us with combo skin should avoid adding oil based products in areas that are already oiled and you'll want to add more hydrating products to areas where you might experience dryness (i.e. your cheeks).

Want to check out what other questions Dr. Schultz answered on the last BeautyRx Live? Check it out!

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