CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion vs Cream: Which One To Choose

CeraVe is one of my favorite skincare lines. Over the years I’ve used their cleansers and moisturizers pretty consistently.  That’s really not surprising considering they are inexpensive, effective, and readily available at many stores and online at Amazon.

Today I’ll be comparing two of their most popular moisturizers.  One is the thicker CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, and the other is the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Since I own and regularly use both, I’ll compare the two and cover the similarities and differences.

By the end of this post, you’ll know everything you need to decide which one is going to work best for your skin.

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion vs Cream

As a general rule, if you have dry skin CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is better. It has a thicker consistency and is more moisturizing. If you have normal to oily skin, CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion may be a better choice as it moisturizes without being too heavy on skin.

Differences Between CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and Daily Moisturizing Lotion

The main difference between the CeraVe cream and the lotion is the texture. The cream is much thicker than the lotion, and it seems to last longer for me as well.

When I use the cream before bed I can still feel a film on my skin in the morning. This doesn’t bother me because I wash my face (OK well really I just rinse with water) in the morning and after that, I can’t feel it any longer. However, because it is so thick I generally don’t use it during the day.

The lotion moisturizes my skin but isn’t nearly as heavy. I use the lotion in the mornings year round, as it sinks in easily and is easy to wear under sunscreen and/or makeup. If my skin is not feeling too dry, I also use the lotion before bed instead of the cream. I don’t feel any film on my skin in the morning like I do with the cream. However, my skin feels hydrated and soft.

Two Different Ingredients: Vitamin E and Petrolatum

The ingredients between the two are very similar, but the cream has two ingredients the lotion lacks. The first is the Tocopherol – another name for Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that offers protection from free radicals. It’s a great ingredient to have in your skincare routine but it’s easy to find in many serums and moisturizers. So while it’s nice that it’s included in the cream, it wouldn’t be a big enough reason to choose it over the lotion.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream on hand on rileft and CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion on hand on right
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream on the left and CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion on the right

The second ingredient the cream has that the lotion doesn’t is petrolatum. You may recognize it by the brand name Vaseline. This is one of the things that gives the cream its thicker texture. 

Petrolatum is a mixture of wax and mineral oil that creates a barrier on your skin. This helps prevent the water loss that occurs naturally day and night as moisture evaporates. This is called Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) and it becomes a bigger concern for those of us over 40. 

I’m sure you can imagine that putting pure Vaseline on your skin at night would be extremely messy and not very practical. But in the cream it’s not one of the top ingredients, so while it’s thick and hydrating, it’s not overly greasy.

 The cream has never caused me to break out either. I did some research on petrolatum and found out that while it’s thick, it actually has a comedogenic rating of 0! This means it’s not pore-clogging at all. So even if you have acne-prone skin it shouldn’t cause any problems.

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.

Similarities Between CeraVeDaily Moisturizing Lotion and Moisturizing Cream

Other than the two ingredients noted above that the cream has and lotion doesn’t, the ingredients are almost identical. This means they both have ceramides that are healthy for your skin barrier. And they both moisturize primarily with glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

In order to understand how the ingredients work together; it’s important to note that moisturizers can work in different ways. 

These methods include: 

💧Repairing the skin’s barrier

💧Increasing water content

💧Reducing TEWL

💧Restoring the lipid barriers ability to attract, hold, and redistribute water

Benefits of Ceramides

Ceramides are a type of lipid. Think of the outer layer of the skin as having a ‘brick-and-mortar’ structure, where the skin cells are the bricks and the lipids are the mortar-like substance that holds them together.

Ceramides help to hydrate your skin by replacing depleted lipids from the outer layer of your skin. These lipids are depleted naturally over time and, when reduced, your skin can become dry and irritated.

Topical application of ceramides improves skin barrier function, decreases TEWL, 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.

Since both the moisturizing cream and the daily moisturizing lotion have ceramides you’re getting the benefits with either one.

Diagram of Skin showing how ceramides are important

They also both have hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is another excellent ingredient for skin hydration as it can bind up to 1000x its weight in water, locking more water into the skin. It not only moisturizes but since it plumps up skin with water it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Glycerin is another very common moisturizing ingredient found in both the cream and lotion. It’s considered to be one of the most effective humectants, although hyaluronic acid is probably the most well-known. A humectant is an ingredient that attracts water. Glycerin attracts water and therefore increases the water content in the skin.

The last similarity I wanted to mention is the price. From what I have seen the price is usually just about the same per ounce as for the cream and lotion. I’m linking below to the products listing on Amazon where you can check current prices.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

On the whole, there are many more similarities between the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion and the Moisturizing Cream than there are differences. They offer remarkably similar benefits, the cream just has a thicker consistency, which makes it a little better for preventing water evaporation from the skin.

Which is Best For Dry Skin?

If you have dry skin I’d recommend the moisturizing cream. It has a thicker texture that seems to last longer for me. When I use the cream at night and wash my face in the morning, I can still feel the cream on my face as I rinse it. When I use the lotion my skin still feels hydrated in the morning, but I can’t feel the lotion on my skin at all.  

The cream also contains petrolatum, which helps prevent water from evaporating from your skin. This gives it a little bit of an extra moisturizing boost, without clogging pores.

Which is Best for Normal Skin?

If you have normal skin, I think you’ll be happy with either the cream or lotion, depending on your personal preference. I have normal skin and use both regularly.

I tend to use the cream more in the winter and the lotion in the summer, but I do find myself switching that up a bit depending on how my skin feels on any given day. For example, if I’m outside all day in summer and my skin feels dried out by the sun or wind, I’ll definitely use the moisturizing cream at night.

If you can’t stand the thicker feeling of a heavy cream on your face, I’d choose the lotion. You’ll still get plenty of moisturizing benefits, but it’s a much lighter consistency.

Bottle of CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Which is Best for Oily Skin?

First I want to note that even if you have oily skin you still need a moisturizer so I’m glad you’re looking for one.  Too much sebum production is what causes your face to look shiny and oily.  Moisturizing and improving skin hydration can help stop the overproduction of sebum –  breaking the dehydrated skin cycle.

For oily skin, I’d recommend using the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion over the cream. The cream has a thicker consistency that may be too much on oily skin. During the day it may be too shiny. 

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion and Moisturizing Cream Active Ingredients

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion Ingredient list:


Cerave Moisturizing Cream Ingredients:


You’ll notice that the CeraVe moisturizing lotion and cream contain many of the same ingredients. They both have glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid (referred to as sodium hyaluronate in the cream). 

Caprylic/capric triglyceride is another ingredient present in both. It’s a lipid that, like ceramides, moisturizes and helps keep the skin’s natural barrier strong. 

Cetyl and cetearyl alcohols are also present in both. It’s important to note that cetyl and cetearyl alcohols are healthy for the skin.  They aren’t the same thing as denatured alcohol (often labeled as alcohol denat) that can be drying and irritating.

On the whole, the ingredient lists are very similar and contain no ingredients that concern me, as someone with sensitive skin. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s review some of the most common questions you may have when comparing CeraVe lotion vs cream.

Can I use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream on my face?

You can use Cerave Moisturizing Cream on your face. I do all the time! I use either the moisturizing cream or lotion every night on my face and also on my body and hands. It does not cause breakouts as it has non-comedogenic ingredients.

Can I use CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion on my face?

You can use CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion on your face. I regularly use the lotion on both my face and as a body lotion. It does not cause me to break out at all. It’s a light texture so is easy to use under sunscreen and makeup in the morning. It sinks into skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Are CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and Moisturizing Lotion safe for sensitive skin?

CeraVe products are safe for sensitive skin. Their entire line is completely fragrance-free, which is important if you have sensitive skin. Even if you don’t feel any irritation from artificial fragrances or dyes, they can still be causing low-level irritation and inflammation that you can’t feel. 

CeraVe products are gentle enough for those with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis and are not likely to cause allergic reactions (although it can happen with any product).

Should I buy CeraVe Moisturizing Cream in a jar or tube?

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is sold in a variety of packaging.

There is a jar with a lid that screws on, a jar with a pump, and a tube. I highly recommend buying either the jar with the pump or the tube as they are much more sanitary.

If you do buy the jar, make sure you wash your hands before using it so you don’t contaminate the cream with bacteria from your hands. I have an 8-ounce tube that is small enough to pack for a weekend away and has lasted me several months. I’ve also had the jar with the pump which is very convenient at home but not great for travel.

Cerave Moisturizing Lotion I’ve only had a bottle with a pump as a full-size product. I’ve seen a tube but only in travel size.

Does CeraVe work as well as more expensive brands?

I’m often asked which products are worth splurging on and when drugstore products work just as well. My advice is that drugstore products can work well if they contain research-backed ingredients, and many drugstore products do. If you are looking for a basic moisturizer, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and Moisturizing Lotion will work just fine.

CeraVe is a newer skincare brand, founded in 2005, but it’s quickly become a favorite of dermatologists. One of CeraVe products key ingredients is that they contain three essential ceramides that help keep moisture in your skin and preserve your skin’s natural barrier. Many of their products also contain hyaluronic acid to help bring moisture back into your skin’s upper layers where it will be most beneficial. 

Final Thoughts on CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion vs Cream

We’ve covered a lot in this article, and I hope it’s been helpful for you in deciding which CeraVe moisturizer is best for you. Since they are not expensive, you may want to try both, as they can easily be rotated in your skincare routine.

The main differences are just the texture, with the cream being thicker and a little more moisturizing than the CeraVe lotion. Also, either one can be used as a body moisturizer as well as on your face, so that’s one less product to buy and clutter up your bathroom.

CeraVe vs Cetaphil: Which is Best For Your Skin?

Micellar Water vs Toner

Marula Oil vs Rosehip Oil