A woman using a face cream

What Is The Difference Between Day Cream & Moisturizer?

Are you looking to implement a day cream or moisturizer into your routine but don't know which is best? You're in the right place.
Updated: November 9, 2022
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The skincare industry has grown exponentially over recent years, so much so that things have started getting unnecessarily confusing. We’re not accusing you of overthinking, but if you’re here because you searched for the differences between a day cream and moisturizer… you’re probably overthinking.

In all seriousness, these two products are so incredibly similar that it’s difficult to write an article examining their almost irrelevant differences, but since you’re here we’ll give it a go!

Everything you need to know about day cream & moisturizer

To keep it as simple as possible, day cream and moisturizer do the same thing – they hydrate and moisturize your skin. In fact, the terms day cream and moisturizer are basically interchangeable and more often than not refer to the same thing.

Okay, you probably want a bit more detail on what these products do other than the obvious, right? Apart from giving your skin a moisture refill, day creams and moisturizers have other benefits. First of all their formulas are made up of tons of healthy and effective ingredients. From vitamins to impactful antioxidants, to things like retinol, you can be sure your respective product is filled to the brim with goodness.

As you apply the mixture to your face, your skin will begin to absorb the nutrients found within it. This process will give your face a glowing, youthful shine that will give you a great confidence boost throughout the day. Also, if you have concerns about wrinkles and lines, day creams and moisturizers are packed with amazing anti-aging properties that can help to smooth these unsightly aspects of your skin. Super helpful.

Wait, so there are no differences at all?

There are tens of thousands of products on the market and we’re sure there are some differences between them, but as a general rule, the purpose of day cream and moisturizer is the same. They are designed to achieve the same results and are marketed similarly too.

The only real noticeable difference between the two products is the texture. This is usually the case as different textures can be more suitable to certain skin types. For example, a day cream can be thick and rich, which means it probably isn’t the best thing to use on oily skin. A moisturizer however can come in the form of a cream, gel, or serum. The end goal is still the same, but there’s a bit more variety within the texture. Therefore that person with oily skin could instead opt for a thinner gel that won’t totally overload their pours with too much moisture.

Before we go

There’s really not that much to say. At the end of the day, you will have to determine your own skin type and buy a product with the most suitable texture for you. Hydration is one of the most important aspects of skincare, and both day creams and moisturizers fulfill this need very well. However, depending on the condition of your skin you should choose your product carefully.

A general rule would suggest those with dry skin should go for creamy textures, whereas those with more oily skin should go for thinner and lighter textures.

It’s all a matter of experimentation and discovery. Good luck!

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.