Can You Use Body Lotion On The Face? What Will Happen?

Understand why you shouldn’t be using the two products interchangeably.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Priya Gill, MBBCH, MRCP Dr. Priya Gill Dr. Priya GillMBBCH, MRCP facebook_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
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Moisturizing is one of the most important elements of a skincare and beauty routine. Often investing in separate moisturizing products for the body and face may burden your wallet. And that is why many use body lotion for your face and body and keep the skin hydrated and moisturized from head to toe.

Can we use body lotion on the face? Are you wondering if this practice is recommended? Are you concerned about the safety of using body lotion on your face? Worry not. This article delves into this topic to answer all your concerns. Keep reading.

Why Should You Moisturize Your Skin?

Close up of a woman applying cream to her face.
Image: Shutterstock

Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It acts as the first line of defense against the harsh environment, pollutants, impurities, and harmful bacteria. It also regulates the loss of water and other vital elements from our bodies. Therefore, our skin requires enough hydration to stay healthy and young.

A survey conducted on 3,978 US adults found that 60% of men and 17% of women never moisturize their skin. It was further noted that 49% of women moisturize daily while 33% do so less frequently. In the case of men, only 39% said they moisturized their skin, out of which 16% did so daily, and 23% moisturized less regularly.

Moisturizing your skin twice a day is a healthy habit and one of the most common skin care tips. Both facial moisturizer and body lotion hydrate and protect the skin, but they are not the same. They are uniquely formulated to address the skin on your face and body, respectively.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Ancient Greeks used beeswax, olive oil, and mashed-up milk and bread for moisturization.

While it might be tempting to use the same moisturizer for your face and body, you should avoid turning it into a one-size-fits-all.

Can I Use Body Lotion Instead Of A Face Moisturizer?

Close up of a hand pumping lotion.
Image: Shutterstock

No. While body lotions and face moisturizers often provide similar benefits, they are different. If you are using your body lotion to moisturize your face, stop right away.

Skin care products are customized to address specific concerns for particular skin types. The products for your body are not meant to be applied to your face because of the difference in the skin texture.

What Is The Difference Between The Skin On Your Body And Face?

A cheerful woman with clear, healthy skin touches her face.
Image: Shutterstock

The first differentiating feature between the skin on your face and that on the body is the thickness. While the skin on your face, particularly your eyes, is thin and delicate, the skin on the other body areas is thicker, especially around the hips, thighs, buttock, and abdomen.

Your facial skin is more sensitive and fragile than your body. It is also frequently exposed to environmental conditions, such as the sun, wind, pollution, and extreme temperatures, adding to its vulnerability.

With the difference between the skin textures, it is only logical that the moisturizers used on these different parts are also different.

Are Body Lotions Different From Face Creams?

A woman holding and looking at the bottle of lotion and a jar of cream.
Image: IStock

Yes. Listed below are the differences.

Face Creams Or MoisturizersBody Lotions
Lightweight and penetrate deep into your skin’s thin layers and hydrate it from the core.Thicker, heavier formulas designed to protect and hydrate your skin.
Contain active ingredients that mainly target enlarged pores, dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines, and other skin issues.Contain a higher concentration of emollients that help protect and hydrate the skin.
Face moisturizers can help reduce acne breakouts and prevent sun damage. Certain moisturizers offer coverage against blemishes on your face.The lotions for your body have different purposes – beyond simply hydrating. They typically address concerns such as skin firming, cellulite, and spider veins.

Since your face has more oil glands than the body, lotions meant for your body can make your face oily and clog your pores. If you are still wondering if applying body lotion on the face will cause any problems, scroll down to the next section.

What Will Happen If You Apply Body Lotion To Your Face?

A woman applying lotion to face at the bathroom.
Image: Shutterstock

Well, if you are in a pinch and have to make do with a body lotion on your face –  sure, you can go ahead. But try not to make it a habit. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you should keep your body lotion where it belongs. Your facial skin cannot absorb the thick formula of the body lotion. As a result, it can stay on your face, irritate it, and clog the pores.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Using body lotion on the face can cause side effects like redness, stinging, itching, and acne breakouts.

Using thick body lotions around the delicate and fragile skin under your eyes can prove more detrimental than skipping a moisturizer altogether. These lotions can clog the pores, leading to milia – small white cysts common around the eyes. Besides, using body lotion on the face may trigger multiple skin issues. Learn more about it in the following section.

Side Effects Of Using Body Lotion On The Face

Using body lotion on the face has some potential side effects, which are as follows:

  • Body lotions are often thicker and may contain comedogenic ingredients, like oils, that may clog the skin pores and cause whiteheads, blackheads, and acne.
  • If you have existing acne, the heavier formulation of body lotions may trigger excess oil production, contributing to acne flare-ups.
  • Body lotions contain artificial fragrances and thicker emollients, which may irritate the delicate facial skin and cause redness.
  • The thick formulation may leave a greasy residue on the face, causing buildup, which may result in uneven skin tone and exacerbate existing skin conditions.

Therefore, it is best to stick to a gentle, non-comedogenic facial moisturizer and avoid using body lotion on the face.

Infographic: Key Reasons To Avoid Using Body Lotion On The Face

Body lotions and face moisturizers may look similar but have different functions. If you have been using body lotion on your face, it’s time to stop that habit altogether. The infographic below explains the four reasons you shouldn’t apply body lotion to your face. Scroll down.

key reasons to avoid using body lotion on the face (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

In A Nutshell

Although applying your body lotion on your face once in a while would not harm your skin, making it a habit can be harmful in the long term. Body lotions and face moisturizers hydrate and protect the skin, but they are different. They are designed specifically for the skin of your face and body.

Some moisturizers available on the market are safe to use on both the face and the body, especially on dry skin. However, you should use a face moisturizer and avoid body lotions on your face. This will keep irritation, outbreaks, and allergic reactions at bay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between body lotion and face lotion?

Body lotion mainly focuses on deep skin hydration, cellulite reduction, and firming. On the other hand, face lotions contain actives to address concerns such as dark spots, pores, wrinkles, oiliness, and fine lines.

Should I use cream or lotion on my face?

Whether to use a cream or lotion on your face depends on your skin type, skin concerns, climate, and personal preferences.

Key Takeaways

  • Body lotions and face moisturizers may have similar functions, but body lotion should not be applied to your face due to differences in skin textures.
  • Face creams are lightweight and contain ingredients that treat acne and hyperpigmentation, while body lotions are thicker and hydrate the skin on your body.
  • Applying body lotion on your face can clog your pores and lead to cysts around the eyes.

Discover the ultimate moisturizer for dry skin. Get expert dermatologist-recommended product recommendations for your face and body to achieve the hydration your skin craves. Your skin will thank you.

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Dr. Priya Gill
Dr. Priya GillMBBCH, MRCP
Dr. Priya Gill is a consultant dermatologist in Klang, Malaysia, with over 16 years of experience. She specializes in the management of all medical and surgical dermatology issues and has a special interest in laser therapy and phototherapy.

Read full bio of Dr. Priya Gill