Difference Between Lotion and Liniment

At one point of time or another, almost all of us suffer from either skin ailments or pain in our body that necessitates use of balms and crèmes. Though the problem is simple and temporary, it is important to select the right product to get fast relief. There are different kinds of balms, crèmes, lotions, ointments and liniments available in the market for use on our skin to alleviate problems. Here we will restrict ourselves to lotions and liniments and try to find out differences between them.


Word liniment comes from Latin Linere which means to anoint. It is a type of medication that one requires to rub on the affected part of the body to get relief. You must have heard about Sloan’s balm and if you are a kid, ask your parents about it. It was a very famous product that was used to get relief from various aches and pains in different body parts and though the company printed the name as Sloan’s liniment, people called it Sloan’s balm. It is thus clear that liniment is a kind of balm that needs to be rubbed with relatively more force than any other ointment or lotion to get relief from pain. Ointments and crèmes are more viscous than liniments. A liniment appears to be semi solid and one needs to apply pressure to get it absorbed in the skin.

Traditionally, liniments have been used to get relief from pains and stiffness of shoulders, leg and back. These liniments contain alcohol and sometimes other compounds that are known to provide relief in pain. Liniments have always been applied to the bodies of horses to provide them relief after a hard race or practice session.


Lotions are slightly less viscous than liniments and you can see them dripping when you draw a little in your cupped hand. Their bases are oil and water which is why they are also called oil-in-water. They spread quickly but care has to be taken to apply them on unbroken skin as they may quickly enter into any lesions or wounds. While liniments get absorbed quickly by the skin, lotions take time to absorb and this is why they are applied before bath whereas liniment is applied after taking a bath. Lotions are mostly cosmetic in nature that helps in replenishing water back in the skin. Lotions carry medicines into the skin just like crèmes but they are more suitable for areas that are covered with hair such as scalp. However, there are moisturizing lotions that women apply over their bodies before going to bed at night.

What’s the difference between Lotion and Liniment

• Liniments are a type of balm that are used to carry medicine inside the skin by applying force unlike lotions that need not be rubbed forcefully

• Liniments are more viscous than lotions and this is why they need to be rubbed for some time whereas lotions spread quickly to a large part of the skin.

• Liniments are products that are mostly used to alleviate pains and stiffness in different body parts such as shoulders, neck and back

• Lotions are used for various purposes. They are oil-in-water and help in replenishing water in the skin.