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What are natural words to use when talking about applying cream to one’s skin? I don’t have a very sophisticated understanding of the difference between cream, lotion and moisturiser. I just call it all “cream”, which is perhaps incorrect. In Danish I would normally only use one word for putting cream on the skin, but it seems in English there are quite a few choices and I’m not sure what is used in everyday conversations. Are the following sentences natural and do they basically have the same meaning? What would you say? 1. My face is dry, I will smear cream on it. 2. My face is dry, I will rub cream on it. 3. My face is dry, I will put cream on it. 4. My face is dry, I will spread cream on it. With “apply” I’m not sure if you say “apply on” or “apply to” or both: 5. My face is dry, I will apply cream to it. 6. My face is dry, I will apply cream on it. Thanks for your help!
Dec 5, 2016 7:17 PM
Answers · 17
A few comments: Lotion is thinner than cream. Creams tend to be too heavy to put on your face, other than at night. Moisturiser describes the function, not the consistency : both creams and lotions can be moisturisers. 'Apply' is the more formal verb - the one that you'd find written on the label. Both 'on' and 'to' work. Informally, 'put' is the usual verb. If your skin is dry, you should use moisturiser/put on moisturiser. 1. My face is dry, I will smear cream on it. No - 'smear' has negative connotations. In modern English, this word suggests an untidy or careless spreading of something possibly unpleasant - such as greasy or dirty marks. For example, you would complain if your hotel mirror had something 'smeared' on it. NB Think about the idiom 'smear campaign' i.e. spreading dirt. 2. My face is dry, I will rub cream on it. Possible, but a bit violent. You might rub cream into dry elbows or feet. 3. My face is dry, I will put cream on it. Fine. 4. My face is dry, I will spread cream on it. Not really. 'Spread' emphasises the idea of covering a surface. We spread butter on toast, or icing on a cake. We don't tend to use it for facial care.
December 5, 2016
Thanks Angela. I will only put cream in my coffee then. I assume the reason why it’s best to use "face cream" or "hand cream" rather than just "cream," is that using just “cream” might create the association of putting a dairy product on your face.
December 6, 2016
(USer writing) - you (especially as a man) may want to use "lotion" rather than "cream." (And probably "face cream" or "hand cream" rather than just "cream," if you do use that word.) But yes, as Su.Ki. said, you _put_ lotion on.
December 6, 2016
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Danish, English, German, Swedish
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English, Swedish