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body moisturiser on face

EVERYDAY SKINCARE

Although they may seem similar, body moisturisers and face moisturisers aren’t always interchangeable. Let's look at the key differences between face and body moisturisers and learn how to determine whether a product is suitable for use on your face, body, or both.

Overview

Moisturising is an essential part of any skincare routine for achieving healthy-looking skin. This helps your skin retain much needed moisture and supports skin to feel smooth, soft, and hydrated.

But can you save time and money and apply body lotion on your face as well? Or the other way round? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Whether a facial cream and body lotion can be used interchangeably has been the subject of plenty of debate over the years. In fact, it depends.

In this guide, we’ll provide some explanation around how it really comes down to the individual product and your skin's particular needs. You’ll learn about some of the differences between facial skin and body skin, as well as the main differences between face creams and body lotions.

Plus, we’ll offer our top picks for multi-purpose moisturisers to help you streamline your daily skincare routine.


Fast Facts: Face Creams vs. Body Lotions

  1. Body lotions and facial creams are often intended for application to different parts of the body and formulated accordingly.

  2. It’s important to read the product packaging carefully when buying a face or body moisturiser, to check if it's designed for use on your face, body, or both.

  3. Some body moisturisers, like CeraVe Ceramides Moisturising Cream and CeraVe Daily Moisturising Lotion, are designed to be multi-purpose, and are suitable for use on your face as well.

  4. Multi-purpose body moisturisers offer a convenient option for anyone keen to simplify their skincare routine. If you decide to use a body cream or body lotion on your face, we recommend choosing a formula that is developed with dermatologists, fragrance-free, gentle on skin, and contains beneficial ingredients like ceramides.

What’s the Difference Between Body and Facial Moisturisers?

In most cases, body moisturisers are intended to hydrate the skin on your body and facial moisturisers designed for the unique needs of facial skin. Face and body products can differ in their texture, formulation, and concentration of ingredients.

Besides hydrating skin and helping it retain moisture, face and body moisturisers often provide targeted solutions for skin concerns specific to the area for which they were designed.

For example, many face creams help target visible signs of ageing and uneven skin tone, or provide weightless hydration for oily skin. They’re often more lightweight than body moisturisers, which typically have a thicker, creamier texture ideal for the skin below your neck.

Conversely, some body moisturisers are designed to help address skin concerns specific to the body, such as bumpy or rough-looking  skin on dry areas like the elbows or knees.

Understanding Facial Skin vs. Body Skin

Face and body moisturisers are often not interchangeable because they're formulated for skin in different areas, each with distinct characteristics and needs. Understanding these characteristics can help you pick the right products for your face and body. Here are a few of the main differentiators to consider:

Skin thickness

Research shows that skin on your face is generally thinner than the skin on the rest of your body.[1] In fact, the skin around your eyes is typically considered to be the thinnest and most delicate skin on your entire body. It may therefore be more vulnerable to signs of premature ageing or irritation. Facial skin is also more likely to show visible signs of ageing first—such as wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, or dark spots.

Pores

Skin pores are the tiny openings that allow your skin to release sweat and sebum (natural skin oils) through the surface of the skin. They can be found anywhere sebaceous (skin oil) glands are present, so pretty much your entire body. Your face tends to have a higher density of sebaceous glands though, so pores are more likely to be visible, especially if they've become clogged or enlarged.

Sebum production

Your sebaceous glands create an oily substance known as sebum that helps keep your skin lubricated. However, when too much sebum is produced, such as in oily or acne-prone skin, it can clog your pores and cause blemishes. Clogged pores can occur anywhere on the body but are more common on people’s faces.[2] 

Sun exposure

Unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can contribute to premature signs of skin ageing, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Areas that get the most sun exposure are generally considered to have a higher risk for sun damage—such as your face, neck, and forearms. To help protect skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays, it’s important to follow a daily sun protection routine that includes a broad-spectrum face and body sunscreen with SPF30 or above.

CeraVe Says: No sunscreen blocks out UV rays completely, regardless of its SPF rating. We recommend staying out of the sun between 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., wearing protective clothing, and reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours throughout the day (as well as after swimming or sweating). A water-resistant sunscreen should be used if you're going to be sweating or spending time in water.

Sensitive Skin

Skin sensitivity is more common on the face than elsewhere the body.[3] There are many possible reasons for this, but it may be linked to the fact that facial skin is thinner than body skin and has more nerve endings. On the other hand, although skin on the body is thicker generally, some areas (such as your hands, feet, knees, and elbows) tend to face more wear and tear from common daily activities, like frequent hand washing, or friction from clothing. This can also result in dry, itchy, or sensitive skin in these areas.

Can You Use Body Lotion on Your Face?

Some moisturisers are suitable for use on both body and facial skin but this is very much product dependent. You should read the label on your product carefully before applying a body moisturiser to your face to confirm how (and where) the product should be applied. 

If the formula is suitable for use on the face, you should also keep in mind your skin type. CeraVe's general advice to people with skin sensitivities, mild eczema-prone or acne-prone skin is to opt for moisturisers that are fragrance-free, allergy-tested, and non-comedogenic (meaning the formula won’t clog your pores). Individuals with these skin types may want to consult a healthcare professional before using a body moisturiser on their face.

Can CeraVe Body Moisturisers Be Used on Your Face?

CeraVe offers a range of moisturiser options to suit a wide variety of skin types and preferences. Some CeraVe body moisturisers are non-comedogenic, so are suitable for use on your face. However, this doesn’t mean all CeraVe body formulas can be used on your face or vice versa. Always check the product label. Learn more about our multi-purpose body moisturisers below:

CeraVe Moisturisers for Use on Both Face and Body

Lightweight lotion for normal to dry skin

CeraVe Daily Moisturising Lotion is an ideal choice for gentle yet effective moisturising. This lightweight body lotion with hyaluronic acid and ceramides is oil-free, non-greasy, and fragrance-free. It's suitable for all skin types and can be used daily to help restore the skin's natural moisture barrier. Daily Moisturising Lotion also features MVE Delivery Technology, which continuously releases moisturising ingredients for all-day hydration.

Moisture Barrier-restoring cream for normal to dry skin

Another multi-tasker that might help streamline your skincare routine is CeraVe Moisturising Cream. This moisture barrier-restoring moisturising cream offers all the benefits of the Daily Moisturising Lotion but features a rich yet non-greasy cream texture. It’s formulated with useful ingredients for dry skin, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and petrolatum—plus our MVE Delivery Technology. The cream can be used daily on the face or body to help restore the appearance of smooth, supple, and healthy-looking skin. It is also suitable for use on mild eczema prone skin.

References

  1. Cochran ML, Lopez MJ, Czyz CN. Anatomy, Head and Neck: Eyelid. (Updated 2023 Aug 14). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.

  2. Clogged Pores. Cleveland Clinic, (Updated 19 Apr. 2022). Available at my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22773-clogged-pores. Accessed January 2024.

  3. Farage MA. The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin. Front Med (Lausanne). 2019 May 17;6:98.

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