The Difference Between Creams and Lotions and Balms and Salves

The definition of creams, lotions, balms and salves has changed in recent years and with the availability of new ingredients has seen new formulations being made.  But what is the difference between a lotion and a salve?  Well one of the basic differences is that a lotion will have water in the mix and a salve won't.  But even this has changed over the last couple of years where cream has become to mean anything from balm to lotion.  Some lotions are an oil-in-water formulation.  Some body butters will have a water-in-oil formulation.  In general it is best read the ingredients on the container of whatever you are buying.

Here, at Heartworks, we don't use any water in any of our natural skincare products.  This isn't because of any other reason other than with water in the mix you then have to introduce a preservative.  Natural preservatives are available but we prefer to stay clear of them.  So all our products are oil-based only.  

There's nothing quite like an oil to properly clean the skin.  It seems to get into every nook and cranny and drag out all the dirt and grime of the skin.  See our facial oil cleansers for more information on this.


And you can't beat a body butter with its calendula oil and beeswax for putting on those dry cracked heals or elbows or even hands.  Our hand cream is really a body butter re-labeled as it offers the same type of protection and moisturising properties owing to its calendula and beeswax addition.

Body butter

Then we offer a lip balm that really does what it is supposed to.  It is made up of coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax along with essential oils for flavour and/or scent.  Note the presence of beeswax in a lot of our products.  Beeswax is such a healing, protective and moisturising substance that we found it difficult to leave it out.

beeswax lip balm

So basically, the difference between a cream and a salve can be very little and open to interpretation.  I would immediately say the difference is that a salve has a lot more wax in it, is firmer, and more dense.  The difference between a lotion and a balm might be that one is water-in-oil  or with no water (Balm) and the other is oil-in-water.  It's all open to interpretation nowadays

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