CeraVe vs Cetaphil: Which is best for your skin?

CeraVe and Cetaphil are both proven skincare brands that experts recommend, so which one should you choose for the best results for your skin? Since they’re both affordable and easy to buy on Amazon or in drugstores, the answer comes down to what skin type you have.

CeraVe vs Cetaphil

CeraVe and Cetaphil have several similar products and they both have research-backed active ingredients that work well with any type of skin. However, overall CeraVe has more products designed specifically for dry or sensitive skin, while Cetaphil focuses on products designed for normal to oily skin.

It’s important to know how these two different brands can affect your specific needs before making a decision. I’ve tested many of the similar products out and share my results with you below.

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.

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    Best for Dry Skin: CeraVe

    CeraVe is a newer skincare brand, founded in 2005, but quickly became very popular for dry skin. CeraVe products contain three essential ceramides that help keep moisture in your skin and preserve your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

    Diagram of Skin showing how ceramides are important
    CeraVe products contain 3 essential ceramides

    If you’re like me and have dry skin, I think CeraVe moisturizers and cleansers are your best choice. They are what I use on a daily basis and I have no intention of changing.

    I’m often asked which products are worth splurging on and when drugstore products work just as well. My advice is that any drugstore brand product can work well if it contains research-backed ingredients. CeraVe moisturizers and cleansers are one of those situations where, if you have dry skin, there’s no need to pay more.

    CeraVe contains hyaluronic acid to help bring moisture back into your skin’s upper layers where it can be most beneficial. Many of their products also contain Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), an important antioxidant. In addition to facial moisturizers and cleansers, CeraVe also makes great body washes, lotions, and serums.

    CeraVe Moisturing Lotion and Cream

    Best for Oily Skin: Cetaphil

    Cetaphil is a well-known skincare brand that has been around for over 70 years. It was created as an alternative to soap and water cleansers, which many people found too drying for their skin.

    For moisturizing, Cetaphil includes glycerin, which helps hydrate skin. They also sell a foaming cleanser that is specifically developed for oily and acne-prone skin and an oil control daily lotion with SPF 30. Cetaphil cleansers are soap-free, which is great for sensitive skin.

    Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe

    Some Cetaphil products can contain fragrance, which could be an issue if you have sensitive skin like me. CeraVe is completely fragrance-free, which is important if you have any type of skin concern. I’ve tried the Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser and while it cleans my skin without stripping it, the fragrance bothers me.

    If you have sensitive skin I recommend CeraVe as the better choice; you won’t have to analyze the product labels to make sure the one you’re considering doesn’t have fragrance. 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).

    Chart comparing CeraVe and Cetaphil

    Best CeraVe Products

    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.

    This cream also contains hyaluronic acid for moisture and Vitamin E, an antioxidant. I use this CeraVe moisturizer often, particularly in winter or anytime my skin seems particularly sensitive as I know it won’t irritate my skin.

    CeraVe Daily 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.

    CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

    This is a gentle cleanser that I think is the best CeraVe cleanser for those with 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 skin conditions 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 Vitamin C Serum

    Cerave has a Vitamin C serum that I think is one of the best facial 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 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 allows the moisturizer to be easily absorbed into your skin for maximum hydration.

    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, can decrease skin hyperpigmentation, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

    I have used this as my summer nightly moisturizer for several years and, although I’ve tried other products, I continually return to this.

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

    CeraVe Baby Lotion

    Cerave has a baby lotion that is free of fragrance, parabens, and dyes and is a great body lotion for adults! It moisturizes your skin without leaving your little one’s (or your own) skin feeling greasy or sticky.

    This product contains ceramides to help restore the protective lipid barrier within the skin. Cerave has a baby shampoo and wash that contains ceramides as well.

    CeraVe Healing Ointment

    Cerave’s healing ointment is the best product for extremely dry skin I have ever used. The creamy texture of this moisturizing ointment soothes cracked, itchy skin fast.

    In the winter, this provides relief from eczema and cracked lips. I use this right before bed and wake up to moisturized lips in the morning. I also use this on dry, cracked hands as well and find it very effective.

    Best Cetaphil Products

    Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

    This is a good choice for you if you have combination or oily skin. This cleanser removes excess oil without stripping the skin. It is soap-free and dermatologist recommended.

    This product does contain fragrance, so I would recommend you use CeraVe or the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser if your skin tends to be sensitive to fragrances in skincare products. I used this product and found it worked well, but I didn’t care for the perfume-y (is that a word?) scent.

    Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

    If you have dry or very sensitive skin then this may be a good choice for you. It is free of fragrance and includes glycerin which is very hydrating. It also has Panthenol to soothe skin.

    This Cetaphil cleanser uses micellar technology to help remove dirt and makeup while still being mild enough for sensitive skin types.

    Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

    This is a good body lotion if you have dry skin. It contains glycerin, niacinamide, panthenol (Vitamin B5) as well as both sunflower seed and avocado oils. This makes the Cetaphil lotion very moisturizing and soothing without clogging pores.

    Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

    If you have eczema or very dry skin, this cream might be the perfect moisturizer for your skincare routine. It is fragrance-free and includes glycerin as well as sunflower seed oil to soothe dry, itchy winter skin.

    Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths

    These are great for travel because they are individually wrapped and can be used both to remove makeup and cleanse your skin. The package is resealable to keep them moist. They contain aloe, chamomile, and cucumber extracts which help calm and soothe the skin while also removing dirt and oil without drying it out.

    Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Soothing Wash

    If your skin is very dry and itchy in the winter or you have eczema then this might be a good choice for you. This product has colloidal oatmeal, which has anti-itch properties that help calm irritated skin. Ceramides are also included to moisturize skin and help maintain your skin barrier.

    Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Replenishing Moisturizer

    Ceramides help the skin retain moisture, which is why they are a must if you have dry skin or are over 40. As we age our skin shows more fine lines and wrinkles, but by keeping it hydrating and plump it helps reduce there appearance.

    This moisturizer also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin absorb moisture, and colloidal oatmeal to soothe itching.


    Do dermatologists recommend CeraVe or Cetaphil?

    Dermatologists recommend both CeraVe and Cetaphil since both lines contain products that are suitable for sensitive skin. Be careful when choosing products from Cetaphil, however, since not all are fragrance-free. CeraVe was recommended by my dermatologist when I was suffering from psoriasis.

    Is CeraVe or Cetaphil best for dry skin?

    Both CeraVe and Cetaphil are great brands that can help with dry skin. CeraVe’s Healing Ointment worked wonders on my extremely dry skin fast! The ceramides in CeraVe’s products give it the edge, however, so the CeraVe brand is my pick for dry skin.

    Is CeraVe or Cetaphil better for wrinkles?

    Both brands have products that can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Keeping skin moisturized will help it look plump and glowing, and both lines have moisturizers that can do that. However, I give the edge to CeraVe in this area due to the Skin Renewing Retinol Serum. 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.

    Is CeraVe or Cetaphil better for acne?

    While both lines have products suitable for acne-prone skin, I think Cetaphil is stronger in this area. Cetaphil’s Gentle Clear Mattifying Acne Moisturizer is a good option if you are looking for something to moisturize and fight acne at the same time.

    It contains salicylic acid which penetrates into pores to clear and prevent pimples while kojic acid helps fade acne scars.

    Cetaphil Daily Wash and Moisturizing Lotion

    Final Thoughts on CeraVe vs Cetaphil: Which is Best for Your Skin

    It’s difficult to know which brand is best for your skin, especially when you have oily, dry, or sensitive skin. I hope my comparison and review of CeraVe and Cetaphil helped you find the right product for your skin!

    If not, let me know in the comments below what type of skin you have and we can try to figure out a better solution together.

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