Baby Oil Vs. Lotion – Benefits, Disadvantages & Which One To Choose

Do you find yourself hesitating for a moment as you reach your bathroom shelf stacked with baby skincare products and wondering if you should use baby oil or baby lotion instead?

Do you eventually pick that one bottle that is closer or just smells better?

You need to keep in mind, that when you choose baby lotion or oil, you should consider which one is REALLY the most effective moisturizer for your baby’s delicate skin at that time of year.

Baby Oil Vs. Lotion Comparison

Baby lotions and baby oils do seem to be designed to serve the same basic purpose: moisturize and hydrate. That’s why lots of parents think that both baby oil and baby lotion are kinda-sorta interchangeable.

But are they really?

Well, actually no!

Baby oil and baby lotion are very different. And these differences impact how, and when you should use them and make a huge difference on your baby’s skin.

Think of it this way:

You know how your night cream isn’t the same as your day cream, and your anti-aging cream isn’t the same as your eye cream even though they are BOTH designed to serve the same purpose: hydrate and prevent wrinkles?

In the same way, baby oil is different from baby lotion. There is a difference in absorption rates, the way they hydrate, and most importantly, in the benefits they provide for the baby’s skin.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Dry Skin Vs. Oily Skin – Understanding Skin Types

Oily skin, sensitive skin, or dry skin! It doesn’t matter. Regardless of type, the human skin needs a little help from the outside to keep it hydrated and nourished. This can be achieved through organic products like coconut oil, or customized lotions, body oils, creams, and other beauty industry products.

However knowing your baby’s skin type (eg: dry skin) and skin problems (like eczema or cradle cap) can help you choose the product that is best suited to treat.

Baby Oil Vs. Baby Lotion – What’s The Difference?

Here are the key differences between baby oil vs. lotion:

  • Oil is usually cleaner (it’s easier to find safe baby oil than truly natural and safe baby lotion, partially because lotions have water-based formula and because of that they require some preservatives to prevent bacteria growth).
  • The lotion is usually cheaper.
  • A few drops of oil go a long way. You need more lotion to apply on baby’s whole body.
  • Bottle of oil will last you longer than bottle of lotion.
  • Oils improve the skin barrier function by mimicking natural lipids and creating an outer layer.
  • Lotions, on the other hand, moisturize dry skin and include ingredients like ceramides that have long-term benefits.
  • Baby lotion absorbs quickly, it’s easy to use every day and gives fast results.
  • Newborn’s skin doesn’t really absorb baby oil. This means that it won’t serve your little one as a moisturizer in the first few weeks, but it’s a great skincare product for infant’s massage1. Lotion doesn’t work that well for baby’s massage.

What Is A Baby Oil?

The first image that pops into your head when you say baby oil is that pink bottle of Johnson & Johnson. But, that is not what baby oil really is. Oh at least, NOT ONLY.

There are two types of baby oils. Some of them are like Johnson’s – with mineral oil-based formula, some added fragrances and few other ingredients. Personally I’m not a fan of baby oils with mineral oil because they are synthetic and can actually irritate baby’s skin or even lead to more severe health problems.

Nowadays, you can also find baby oils that are natural and made only from safe ingredients. Some of them are even fully organic! They are way more gentle and safer for baby’s delicate skin (especially if your little one has eczema or cradle cap).

Baby oil works as an occlusive or emollient. These two properties of oil help keep baby skin hydrated by creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This barrier prevents transepidermal water loss while also keeping the skin soft and smooth and helps maintain moisture.

As an emollient, it is ideal for dry skin for babies and adults because it fills in the spaces with fatty substances also known as lipids. This is also why it is used as a body oil and even as an ingredient in many skin care products as it prevents dry skin from cracking and flaking.

Baby Oil What are the benefits

Benefits Of Baby Oil

One of the biggest benefits of baby oil is that it creates a seal on the top layer of the skin that helps lock moisture into the baby’s skin2! This means a little goes a long way and is the ideal choice for body oil for dry skin during winter.

Many baby oils also contain natural oils like jojoba oil and these are loaded with nutrients and benefits. For example, Jojoba oil is great for treating and even preventing cradle caps, a problem that is quite common in newborn skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps repair damaged skin.

Baby oils that list almond oil as their main ingredient are full of vitamin E.

Any body oil containing coconut oil greatly improves the skin thickness and strength of premie babies.

Got a fussy baby? A nice massage with baby oil containing calming oil and scents has a calming effect on the baby.

Baby oil works wonders for chronic dry skin and skin concerns like eczema and cradle cap, and for stretch marks and scars so don’t be surprised if YOU will be the one to finish your baby’s oil bottle!

Pick a brand that makes safe baby oils from all-natural ingredients, with fragrance-free formula. This makes them safe and gentle to be used as body oil for babies, toddlers, and adults alike.

There’s one more benefits of baby oil: it regulates sebum production.

Bottom line: Baby body oil is your best friend in dry seasons and winter months.

Things You Won’t Like

Baby oil may be great but it does have some cons: baby oil stains clothes and can get quite messy. It is also not suited for newborn skin and may also cause irritation and clogged pores leading to baby acne. Some experts recommend not using any lotion or oil on baby’s skin during in first month of life.

Some oils also contain mineral oil which is derived from crude oil or petroleum which can cause rash and allergic reactions. Avoid those ones – both for your baby and you!

Mineral Oil – Why It’s Bad For Your Baby

I can’t stress the importance of the practice to read labels carefully when choosing products for your baby. Mineral oil and irritating ingredients in baby products can cause problems like rash and even break down the top layer of a diaper.

What Is A Baby Lotion?

A baby lotion is a hypoallergenic cream that is specially designed to be gentle and hydrating for a baby’s skin and keep it soft and nourished.

Baby lotions are light and partly water-based which makes them faster and more effective. They are usually made from water, and glycerin, and ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. They sink deep into the skin giving that smooth and hydrated feeling.

Some even come with soothing scents and are enriched with the benefits of shea butter and aloe vera and even oil to pack in that extra layer of moisture.

Baby lotion can also be used by adults as body lotions (you’ve probably lathered your bump in body lotion hoping to avoid stretch marks!) and even on the face.

Benefits of baby lotion vs oil

Benefits Of Baby Lotion

Baby lotions are partly water-based and are quickly absorbed into the skin without the oily feeling. Yes, this mean no stains and spills with lotion.

Plus, body lotion comes in lightweight and thick formula to suit different skin types. In fact, that is one of the biggest benefits of baby lotion and you can choose it according to your baby’s needs, skin type, and preference.

This makes them an ideal choice for everyday wear during hot and humid seasons.

Bonus: they do not clog pores so you can use them for face too.

What You Won’t Like

Although body lotion is cheaper than baby oil, you will need a lot more product, so expect a lot of restocking over time. This is because lotion absorbs faster and covers less of an area.

Another disadvantage is that you really need to read the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t include any fragrances, alcohol (which can be drying), and harsh chemicals that can irritate a newborn’s skin.

Baby Oil Vs. Baby Lotion – Which One Should You Use For Your Baby?

So which is better?

First of all, it’s important to have both lotion and oil for your baby.

While oils give that extra protection you need during the dry months or for problem areas, lotions are gentle and nourishing -perfect for hot and humid days.

Just remember to do a patch test first to check for any allergic reactions or signs of skin irritation.

If your baby has a cradle cap or extra dry skin, a healthcare professional can help guide you better.

Can You Use Baby Oil And Baby Lotion Together?

Yes, you can use baby oil and baby lotion together! That’s one of the reasons I suggest parents to have a stock of both. Baby oils are ideal for skin issues like eczema and you can either:

  • Mix and match and use both: oil on the body and lotion on the face.
  • Combine both together: to deliver that extra boost of moisture and get soft and supple skin.

If you want to combine them, one way is to mix baby oil and baby lotion in your hand and apply it on slightly dampened skin. Keep in mind that you should only mix “one portion”, don’t mix the whole bottles of baby oil or lotion3!

The second way and my personal favorite is to use a baby lotion after the baby’s bath and then apply baby oil to lock in that moisture.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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