Out of your moisturizer and tempted to just slather body lotion on your face? Stop right there. While facial moisturizer and body lotion have some stuff in common, they’re very different skin care treatments.

Here’s why you shouldn’t use body lotion on your face and how to keep your face smooth, healthy, and hydrated.

Can you put body lotion on your face?

It’s best to stick to moisturizing products designed for your face. Facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than body skin.

Body lotion tends to be thicker and can lead to redness or discoloration, dryness, acne, and irritation if used on your face. But if you use body lotion on your face a few times, it’s unlikely going to cause any major concerns.

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Body and facial skin care products are often formulated with different ingredients because they are designed for different kinds of skin.

“Facial skin is considerably thinner compared to the skin on the rest of the body, and much more sensitive,” cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green says.

This skin is also more susceptible to acne, wrinkles, and dark spots. Because of this, facial moisturizers are designed to protect delicate skin and often focus on specific skin types.

“You can choose a moisturizer with targeted active ingredients that treat an array of skin concerns, depending on your skin type and the benefits you hope to achieve” says Green.

Body lotions are designed for thicker, tougher, and less sensitive skin. So, these products often have more moisturizing power with hearty ingredients like oils and butters.

Facial products usually aren’t technically lotions either. Many facial moisturizers are considered creams, which are richer in consistency and less water-based compared to body lotions.

Everyone’s skin is different. Peeps who have sensitive skin or conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis might have more reaction to using body lotion on their faces. Other folks’ skin may not be fazed at all.

But even if you have really resilient skin, anyone can experience some annoying side effects from using lotion on their face. This includes:

Don’t stress, you can use body lotion on your face if you forgot your moisturizer. But keep in mind, not all body lotions are made the same. Some offer a bit more benefits and fewer risks than others.

Your best bet is a gentle, lightweight body lotion. Ideally, it should be noncomedogenic and oil-free. Try to avoid body butters or lotions that are designed for very dry or scaling skin. They tend to be thick AF and can trigger breakouts.

“Using a moisturizer on the face may help strengthen the natural protective barrier of the skin, keeping skin healthy and hydrated while protecting against skin irritation,” Green says.

The right facial moisturizer may also help reduce wrinkles, dryness, and hyperpigmentation. Plus, it may reduce uncomfortable symptoms like dryness, itching, or scaling.

“Similar to using a moisturizer on the face, when you use a body lotion, you help to enhance the natural protective barrier of skin,” Green says. “This may help protect your skin and combat any potential skin irritation associated with dryness or inflammation.”

Facial care isn’t just about slathering on creams every day and night. Your skin care routine matters, too. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you reach your skin care goals:

  1. Gently massage a cleanser into your face in little circles with lukewarm water. (You should do this in the a.m. and before bed.)
  2. Rinse your face with lukewarm water. Avoid hot water, which can dry you out.
  3. Pat your skin dry with a soft, clean towel. This helps your skin retain more moisture.
  4. Optional: Use a gentle toner, face serums, or treatments.
  5. Apply your facial moisturizer using gentle upward strokes.
  6. During the day, apply sunscreen if your moisturizer doesn’t include SPF.

Pro tip: While it’s not necessary, you can also use a moisturizer designed for the skin around your eyes 👀. But be careful with application — the skin around your eyes is very thin. Use a single finger and lightly tap the cream around your eyes until it’s absorbed.

The face moisturizer you use can make or break your skin care routine. Here are some tips to help you pick a winner:

  • Avoid artificial fragrances, alcohol, or harsh chemicals. All of these ingredients can dry you out and can cause redness or discoloration, and irritation.
  • Look for vitamins. Vitamin C can help boost collagen production, and vitamin E has some pretty sweet properties that may reduce signs of skin aging.
  • Avoid aggressive or excessive exfoliation. Moisturizers with harsh chemical or physical exfoliants can lead to dryness and irritation.
  • Choose products for your skin type. “To determine your skin type, cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and leave it be for several hours afterward,” notes Green. “Then observe the appearance of your skin without any skin care products applied.”

Facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than body skin, so the ingredients in these products are different. That’s why it’s super important you use moisturizers formulated for your face.

But if you’re out of moisturizer or forgot it on the go, using a noncomodenic and oil-free body lotion on your face is OK in the short term. Just note that even a top-notch body lotion may cause irritating side effects like breakouts, redness or discoloration, and flaking.