The difference between a cream moisturizer and a lotion moisturizer is the amount of oil each contains, with creams being the more oil-rich of the two. The additional oil makes creams thicker and more emollient than lotions.
Creams are often made with rich oils, such as shea, cocoa or avocado butter. Lotions typically have lighter ingredients, such as goat or coconut milk, with lower fat content or non-oil moisturizing ingredients such as aloe.
Moisturizing creams do an excellent job of conditioning and hydrating skin. They keep skin feeling smooth for a relatively long time because their fats are slow to be absorbed. Lotions also hydrate, and the high water content helps the skin absorb them quickly. However, the moisturizing effects of lotions are less dramatic and shorter-lived.