Aveeno vs CeraVe: Ultimate Guide (2022)

If you’ve been in any drugstore for skincare products, I’m sure you’ve seen both Aveeno and CeraVe.  They’re two of the most popular brands in the US and thankfully, very affordable.

I’m a big fan of using inexpensive products when they work just as well as the luxury brands. Particularly for cleansers and moisturizers, I find drugstore products are a great option.

In this article, I’ll answer your questions on which products will work best for your skin type. By the end, you’ll know which ones you want to try first.

CeraVe vs Aveeno: Which Is Best?

Aveeno is known for using natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, soybean oil, and shea butter in face and body lotions. They have a reputation for making products to soothe sensitive, dry, and/or itchy skin. 

CeraVe is a newer skincare brand, founded in 2005, but has quickly become very popular. CeraVe products contain three essential ceramides that help hydrate your skin and preserve your skin’s natural moisture barrier (more on ceramides later).

✅ Skincare Tip: There’s no need to stick with just one brand. Find your favorite products that give you the best results. It’s more fun to mix and match anyway!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may make a commission at no cost to you. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details.

CeraVe vs Aveeno

Aveeno vs CeraVe for Acne

I’ve organized the rest of this article into sections by product type: cleanser, moisturizers, etc. But to make it easier for those with acne-prone skin I decided to put the acne-related products together in one section. 

Keep in mind that it’s fine to use a cleanser or moisturizer not specifically designed for acne. You don’t need every product to have salicylic acid in it just because you are breaking out, just one good product with 2% will most likely be enough.

Best Aveeno Products for Acne

Aveeno has four products meant for acne, and unfortunately, they all contain artificial fragrances. I’d recommend avoiding them regardless of whether you have sensitive skin or not. Artificial fragrances and dyes increase the odds of an allergic reaction and can cause skin irritation, even if it’s not visible.

The Clear Complexion Face Cleanser has 2% salicylic acid and the Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser For Sensitive Skin has .5%.  While .5% is meant for sensitive skin, I think it’s a really low percentage, particularly considering you are only going to leave it on a minute and then rinse it off.  Since salicylic acid is not particularly irritating I don’t think most people would have any problems with a 2% strength in a cleanser. 

In addition to the cleanser, Aveeno offers exfoliating pads and a moisturizer. The Clear Complexion Exfoliating Pads for Face have .6% salicylic acid as well as soy to even out skin tone. The Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer has .5 salicylic acid plus soy for skin tone and glycerin for moisture.

Best CeraVe Products for Acne

CeraVe has two cleansers formulated to fight acne. The Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser has 4% benzoyl peroxide and the Acne Control Cleanser has 2% salicylic acid. Both of these active ingredients are effective at fighting acne. I would recommend using either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in your cleanser and then using the other ingredient in a leave-on product. That way you’ll get the benefit of both without overdoing it.

The Cerave Acne Control Gel has 2% salicylic acid, which is enough to be effective. Salicylic acid has the benefit of being less drying to your skin than benzoyl peroxide, so it’s easier to use if you need to use it on large portions of your face.

CeraVe includes their Resurfacing Retinol Treatment as an acne treatment on their website, however, I think it’s a better product for anti-aging so I’m including retinol in the treatments section down below. While retinol does stimulate skin cell turnover, which should lessen clogged pores, it’s not as effective at fighting acne as its stronger cousin, prescription-strength tretinoin.

CeraVe vs Aveeno Cleansers

Both brands have cleansers that should work well for different skin types. However, CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser is my all-time favorite. I’ve used it for years and repurchased it more times than I can count. But just because it’s best for me doesn’t mean that will be the case for you. It’s perfect for my normal to dry skin. But if you have an oily skin type, you’ll probably be better off with a stronger cleanser.

Best CeraVe Cleansers

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

This is a gentle cleanser that I think is best for those with normal to dry or sensitive skin. It removes excess oil without leaving my skin feeling tight. With no artificial fragrance or color, it is gentle enough for those with a skin condition such as eczema or rosacea.

This is the Cerave cleanser that I use year-round. If I am wearing makeup (a rare occurrence) I will use a makeup remover before this to make sure I get all my eye makeup off.

Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser

If you have oily skin you may like this better than the Hydrating Cleanser. It’s still gentle, and it won’t strip your skin of its natural oils, but it should help remove the excess oil from your skin a little better. I’ve tried this and it’s been fine in the summer, but my skin gets pretty dry in the winter and then I find the Hydrating Cleanser a much better choice.

 Best Aveeno Facial Cleansers

Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Cleanser

This cleanser won’t strip skin of its natural oils but does a good job removing dirt and sunscreen. If you find the CeraVe Hydrating cleanser doesn’t remove the oil from your skin, give this one a try. 

Like most cleansers, if you wear heavy makeup, you’ll most likely need to remove that first with a makeup remover or micellar water. (Find out how micellar waters differ from toners in this article).  I’m not sure the soy will really brighten your skin since it’s only going to be on your face for less than a minute, but overall it’s a good choice for a basic cleanser.

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Cleanser For Sensitive Skin

This gentle cleanser contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid to moisturize and oat kernel flour to soothe skin. It has no fragrance or dyes to irritate skin and shouldn’t strip skin of its natural oils. A good choice for not only sensitive skin but also dry skin as well.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Cream on Hand
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Face Cream

Cerave vs Aveeno Moisturizers

One of the key ingredients in Cerave’s moisturizers is ceramides. Ceramides help to hydrate your skin by replacing depleted lipids from the outer layer of your skin. Topical application of ceramides improves skin barrier function, decreases water evaporation from your skin, and has an anti-inflammatory effect.  Lipids like ceramides and fatty acids fill in the gaps between your skin cells to prevent water from escaping your skin and irritants from entering.

Aveeno moisturizers focus on soothing ingredients like oat flour and brightening ingredients like soy. They have no artificial fragrance or dyes, making them safe for sensitive skin.

Best Cerave Facial Moisturizers

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe makes a popular night cream that is lightweight and fragrance-free. In addition to ceramides, it contains hyaluronic acid, which draws and keeps moisture in your skin.

The main difference between this and the Daily Moisturizing Lotion is that the ingredient list for the PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion includes niacinamide; which data from studies have shown acts as an antioxidant, decreases skin hyperpigmentation, and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

I have used this as my summer nightly moisturizer for several years.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

This is the best moisturizer for dry and/or sensitive skin available in drugstores. It contains three ceramides, which are fatty acids that are essential building blocks to skin. Ceramides help strengthen your skin barrier. Including ceramides is one of CeraVe’s best features and is unusual at this price point. I use this almost every night in the winter. 

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

This is a lighter facial moisturizer than the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. It contains many of the same ingredients but the texture is not as thick. This product contains CeraVe’s patented MVE technology, which releases the ingredients slowly, over a long period of time, providing hydration for up to 24 hours. The Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a great choice for normal skin or oily skin. It also makes the best body lotion as well. 

If you’re interested in the differences between the Cerave Moisturizing Cream and the lotion I’ve written an article comparing them that you can check out here. They are similar products, but the cream is definitely much thicker and a better option for very dry skin.

Best Aveeno Facial Moisturizers

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Dry Skin

I recently picked this up on a whim and it’s now my favorite Aveeno moisturizer. It’s great for everyday use, although I don’t think it’s moisturizing enough for extremely dry skin despite its name. I prefer this to the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion. It sinks into my skin quickly so I can apply my sunscreen over it in the morning and when I use it at night my skin feels plump and hydrated in the morning. 

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin

This is a gel moisturizer, it’s great for oily or normal skin, but probably not moisturizing enough for dry skin. In addition to moisturizing, it has centella, which reduces redness among other benefits, as well as feverfew and oat kernel flour to soothe skin. Centella is an ingredient that is very popular in Asian skincare brands and is being more common in the US. I’m glad to see it becoming widely available in drugstore products because it does a great job of toning down the redness in my skin.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream and Cerave Hydrating Facial Wash

Aveeno vs CeraVe: Treatments

Treatments are products like antioxidant serums, exfoliants, and anti-aging products that turn a basic skin care routine from one that is just maintaining your skin, into something that’s actually improving it. These products can actually give visible results. You’ll need to be patient because they take at least 3 months to work, but you can see smoother, brighter skin with fewer fine lines if you stick with them.

Best Aveeno Skin Treatments

Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream

This moisturizing cream has a few good ingredients that can make a difference in brightening your skin. Ascorbyl Glucoside is a derivative of Vitamin C that has been shown to be effective in brightening skin tone as well as being an antioxidant. Additional antioxidants include Vitamin E and Blackberry extract. Antioxidants protect our skin from damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. 

The downside of this cream is that it comes in a jar, which I don’t care for as you expose the product to air every time you open it. Ascorbyl glucoside is a stable form of vitamin C, but I’d still prefer this came with a pump.

Positively Radiant Intensive Nightcream with Vitamin B3

This is another moisturizing cream that I wish came in a pump instead of a jar. But besides that, it’s a pretty good product. Aveeno is known for using soy to even out skin tone. This cream also has Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide. I mentioned niacinamide earlier while discussing Cerave PM Lotion, but as a refresher, it’s a powerful antioxidant that can even skin tone, fight hyperpigmentation, and even reduce fine lines.

Best CeraVe Skin Treatments

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

Cerave has a Vitamin C serum that I think is one of the best vitamin C serums out there. It contains 10% Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin absorb it better than other brands on the market.

10% is an effective amount of Vitamin C, but not so much that it is too irritating. I’ve tried serums with 15% or 20% concentrations before and they’ve been too strong for my skin. If you’re like me, I think this one is worth a try.

And of course, CeraVe included the ceramides that they are known for. The airless tube packaging helps keep the Vitamin C stable. If you’re interested in the benefits of Vitamin C take a look at my article on the best Vitamin C serums.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment 

This serum contains both glycolic and lactic acids for a gentle but effective blend of AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids). This will help you shed the dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin, revealing the brighter skin underneath.

In addition to exfoliating skin, AHA’s have been shown to help reduce fine lines and discoloration. For more details on AHA’s check out my Ultimate Guide to Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

Cerave Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

This is a good drugstore retinol product. I highly recommend starting with retinol in your 20s for anti-aging. This serum contains retinol, a proven wrinkle fighter, as well as ceramides and hyaluronic acid, both of which help with hydration. Retinol has been shown to stimulate cell turnover, which leads to improvement in signs of aging such as fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and uneven texture.

Final Thoughts on Aveeno vs CeraVe

We’ve gone over a lot in this article, and I hope it’s been helpful in deciding which CeraVe or Aveeno products are the best choice for you. Since they aren’t expensive, you may want to try them both to find the right products. Don’t worry about finding just one brand to use, it’s much better to mix and match the products that give you the best results. 

Related Skincare Articles

Cerave vs Cetaphil

Cetaphil vs Aveeno