Hot take: Skincare is confusing. As appealing as it might seem to adhere to a simple routine comprised of only the basics, it’s also been well established that the otherworldly dewy and glowy skin many of us are chasing requires some bells and whistles beyond just cleanser and sunscreen. On the other side of a more pared-back skincare approach, there’s a whole world of products from serums to eye creams, and some slightly more mystifying options like essences and ampoules to get the job done. Among said perplexing options is another elixir that’s recently been blowing my mind (and making my skin so soft), known as liquid lotion.
While lotion isn’t a new concept by any means, it’s the recently nuanced use of the term lotion in the western skincare realm that’s left some room for questions. Stateside, this word has historically been used to describe a lightweight cream in both the face and body categories, characterized by its moisturizing or otherwise humectant properties. Picking up a bottle of lotion almost always meant you’d be pressing down on a pump or squeezing a tube to dispense a gel-like swirl of a smooth, spreadable emollient.
Thanks to the ever-growing appreciation for Asian beauty rituals—especially the involved routines from Korea and Japan—our understanding of what a product labeled as a lotion could be has evolved to include milky, near-liquid, and liquid formulas meant to be patted into the skin to deliver not only intense hydration but sometimes active ingredients, too.