Do You Know The Difference Between A Cream And An Ointment?

Difference Between A Cream and an Ointment

People often use the terms cream and ointment interchangeably.  They are both white substances that come in jars that you put on your skin, so that makes sense.  I think ointment sounds a bit more medical than cream, but other than that they seem like much the same thing.

In fact there is a big difference between them in development labs.  The term cream is used to mean an emulsion product.  So a cream contains oil and water,  and ingredients to stop them separating into two.  An ointment on the other hand is pure oil.

The physical chemistry of the two systems is miles apart.  For a start, the cream has the potential to separate into an oily layer and a watery layer if you haven’t got the formulation quite right.  Also as it contains water you need to take care to make sure it is adequately preserved.

Ointments are much simpler – they can still separate if you have ingredients that crystallise out – but they very rarely give you any problems with contamination and usually they basically last forever.

But the huge bulk of products that are sold into skincare are creams rather than ointments.  There is a lot more you can do with a cream, and the cost to make them is a bit lower as they contain the cheapest ingredient available which is water.  But the main reason is that consumers simply prefer them.  They have a lighter feel that rubs in more easily.

In the end you can only succeed by giving people what they want.



Photo credit: tzutzu via photopin cc

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