Gel vs Cream vs Moisturizer vs Ointment: What is the difference?

People are confused about the differences between gel vs cream, moisturizer, and ointment. They’re not that hard to distinguish: each has typical ingredients, absorption process, and feel.

Based on your skin conditions you need different beauty products for eye treatment or hair and body care. A gel, a cream, or an ointment.

Each is good for skin treatment. But what’s the difference and which one is the best for your skincare?

What is a gel?

Easily recognizable because gels are transparent. Gels are oil-free and are more like lotion because they’re water-based: thus, gels absorb faster. The texture of a gel is similar to jelly, it’s light, not sticky – you almost don’t even feel it on your skin. Because of that, gels are especially useful in hot months: hydration abilities are strong. Gels also provide a matte effect without shining on the sun.

Gels are good for oily skin because they contain for example hyaluronic acid, which is good for capturing water molecules in the epidermis, preventing a greasy effect.

What is cream?

Creams are mostly white and have a thicker texture, thus it takes more time for the skin to absorb. This long-time absorption means that it also creates a long-lasting protective layer on your skin, with the sticky feeling we mentioned above. The cream is also water-based but it also contains oils and fat.

Creams have to be applied less time a day, so they do a good service when they applied at night. We recommend using it in the winter seasons because creams are effective for dry or sensitive skin types.

What is an ointment?

Ointments have a semisolid yellow paraffin-based, thick texture. It’s oil-based and very greasy and non-porous, almost impervious, creating a really strong film on the skin. It has an even longer absorption time than creams.

Because of its long-lasting effects, ointments are mostly for medicinal purposes.

What is a moisturizer?

It’s not a new category: gels, creams, ointments, and lotions are all moisturizers if they make and keep your skin more hydrated. While it prevents the dryness of the skin, it also provides some sun protection and anti-aging benefits.

Moisturizers should be applied in the morning or even more recommended to use them at night, so your skin can reheal itself from the daytime damages.

Advantages of using a moisturizer:

  • Prevents flaking
  • Anti-aging effects: moisturize your face, ear, chest. neck and arms to keep them looking younger
  • Hydrate: if you feel your skin dry and tired, you should use a moisturizer
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Your skin type matters

There are 3 types of skin:

  • Dry skin
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Oily skin

Skincare companies recommend using the cream on dry and dehydrated skin while gels are the best solution to treat the oily skin nicely. Yet, gels are getting more and more popular in the last couple of years. It’s because gels provide an internal solution: after absorbing, the hydration is activated from within the skin, without any greasy side-effects.

On the other hand, creams are a better option for dry and dehydrated skin, because they last longer and treat the skin in the long term.

Gels are also a more rapid solution: in the morning, when you’re in a rush to work, applying a gel on your face is a time saver option.

What we recommend: use gels in the morning and creams at night. They work best in these parts of the day.

About dermolex gel

The herbal ingredients of dermolex gel provide excellent help in the skincare of permanently bedridden patients and the prevention of bedsores.

It’s a gel, thus it absorbs fast so the patient can feel its effect immediately. We recommend to apply it 1-2 times a day. It doesn’t leave a stain on clothes or bedsheets.

The sensitive, mature skin can maintain its hydration with dermolex gel.

Summary: key differences

Gels, creams, and ointments are different, while moisturizer only means that a certain product is hydrating the skin.


Gels are usually oil-free, while creams do have oil and ointments have fat and oil in them.


Ointments create a film on the skin and take a long time to vanish, and can leave stains – so do creams. Gels are mostly transparent and non-sticky, so they absorb quickly enough to not break your daily routine.


Water gel has the appearance of jelly, it’s transparent and can be found in different colors. Creams are usually white and creams are thicker, while ointments are the most solid types of moisturizer.


The greasy feeling and the shiny aftereffect may prevent you from using ointments on your face as a skincare product. Ointments are mostly used in small areas, while cream and gel spread easily.

Keeping your skin hydrated is not only necessary when you’re sick and lie on a hospital bed. Beauty skincare should be your daily routine to moisturize your skin.


Dermolex skin regenerating gel for the prevention of bedsores

The herbal ingredients of dermolex gel provide excellent help in the skin care of permanently bedridden patients and the prevention of bedsores.

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