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Moisturizers are skin care products that are used on the skin to help keep it hydrated. They have components that function in distinct ways, such as preventing water loss from the skin and facilitating the shedding of dead skin cells. (1)
When it comes to moisturizers, different formulations are available, with gel and cream being two famous choices.
Deciding on the most suitable moisturizer for your skin type based on your preferences is essential for preserving optimal skin hydration and promoting healthful skin.
Gel moisturizers can be more suited to meet the needs of oily skin because of their lightweight nature, while cream moisturizers work incredibly well for dry/mature skin that requires intense hydration.
So, understanding the differences and benefits of the two can help you discern what should be included in your skin care routine.
This article will explore the qualities of gel and cream moisturizers.
Gel or Cream moisturizer: Which Is Better?
|Recommended for oily skin
|Recommended for dry skin
|Recommended for warm/humid environment
|Recommended for dry/cold environment
|Absorbed very quickly
|Absorbed comparatively slower
|Needs frequent reapplication
|Does not need frequent reapplication
Gel moisturizers are particularly suitable for acne-prone skin due to their lightweight and noncomedogenic formula, (3) which means they provide benefits without clogging pores, helping to prevent acne and breakouts. (2)
Skin sensitivity to alcohol
If you want to avoid alcohol and prefer a gentler option for your sensitive skin, cream moisturizers are a better choice.
Frequency of application
Gel moisturizers, with their light texture, tend to evaporate quickly as you perspire, which may require more frequent reapplication throughout the day. (5)
On the other hand, cream moisturizers provide a thick and heavy texture that forms a durable shielding barrier on the skin.
Climate you live in
If you live in hot and humid climates, using a gel moisturizer is often recommended. They are quickly absorbed, which is beneficial in preventing excess oiliness in humid conditions.
Gel-Based Moisturizers and Their Benefits
Gel moisturizers are formulated with organic macromolecules that create a transparent lattice structure. These gels can be alcohol based or water based (hydrogel) and are thickened with a gelling agent such as carboxymethylcellulose. (2)
When applied to the skin, gels have a thick consistency but liquefy upon contact with warm skin, providing a cooling sensation. They dry quickly to form a thin film that doesn’t leave a greasy texture or stain the skin. (3)
Some benefits of using gel moisturizers are:
- Lightweight and nongreasy texture
- Quick absorption into the skin
- Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin
- Provides hydration without heaviness
- Provides a cooling and soothing sensation
- Good as a makeup base
- Gel moisturizers are commonly used in the treatment of acne and scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis (2)
Cream-Based Moisturizers and Their Benefits
Cream moisturizers are formulated as water-in-oil emulsions. The proportion of water and oil determines the consistency of the cream, ranging from mildly greasy to nongreasy.
Creams are opaque and thick, which is why they are appropriate for dry skin conditions. They are often recommended for infected and exudative plaques seen in conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. (2)(3)
Some benefits of using cream moisturizers are:
- Helps to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier
- Improves the skin’s surface and build
- Helps to reduce dryness and flakiness
- Offers long-lasting hydration
Why Is a Moisturizer Important?
- Moisturizers help in repairing the skin’s barrier.
- Moisturizers help maintain skin integrity.
- Moisturizers enhance overall skin appearance.
- One of the primary functions of moisturizers is to increase skin hydration and improve the water content in the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum.
- Moisturizers deliver water directly to the skin and reduce the loss of water through a process called transepidermal water loss. (3)
- Moisturizers create a defensive barrier on the skin’s exterior, preventing damage and irritation.
- By filling in the gaps between skin flakes, moisturizers make the skin appear smooth.
- Moisturizers can move into deeper layers of the skin, impacting its form and function.
How to Use a Moisturizer?
To use gel or cream moisturizers for your skin, follow these steps:
- Cleanse your face to remove grime and impurities.
- Apply your serums (if any) before the moisturizer.
- Take a pea-sized quantity of the moisturizer on your fingers.
- Nicely massage the moisturizer into your skin using upward motions.
- Allow the moisturizer to be absorbed for a few minutes.
- Follow with sunscreen with SPF during the day for sun protection.
What Is the Correct Time to Apply Moisturizer?
A moisturizer should be treated as an important part of your everyday skin care ritual, which is to be done after cleansing the skin. It should be applied both in the morning and at night to support your skin’s hydration levels and protect the skin during the day and during sleep.
Can Gel and Cream Moisturizers Be Used Together?
Yes, you can use gel and cream moisturizers concurrently in your skin care ritual. This can be beneficial if you have specific skin care concerns or if you want to customize your moisturizing routine based on different areas of your face or different times of the routine.
For example, you may use a gel moisturizer in the morning for lightweight hydration and a cream moisturizer at night for more intense hydration.
Which type of moisturizer is better for oily skin?
Gel moisturizers are commonly more appropriate for oily skin.
Are cream moisturizers more hydrating than gel moisturizers?
Cream moisturizers tend to deliver more intense hydration.
Can gel moisturizers be used as a primer before makeup?
Yes, gel moisturizers can work well as a makeup primer.
Do cream moisturizers work better for mature skin?
Cream moisturizers are often recommended for mature skin.
Which type of moisturizer absorbs faster into the skin?
Gel moisturizers are known for their quick absorption.
Can gel moisturizers be used under sunscreen?
Yes, gel moisturizers can be used before applying sunscreen.
Is it recommended to use a gel moisturizer during winter?
Gel moisturizers can be used in winter, but individuals with very dry skin may need the additional hydration from cream moisturizers.
Gel moisturizers are weightless, are absorbed readily, and are great for greasy or acne-prone skin. Cream moisturizers are richer, deliver amazing hydration, and work well for parched or adult skin.
It’s important to consider your climate, lifestyle, and personal comfort when selecting a moisturizer.