Best Cerave Products (Moisturizer Edition): The Top 4 Buyer’s Guide

by | Last updated Apr 18, 2020 | Reviews | 38 comments

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Hello everyone, I just finished up a series of CeraVe reviews and thought I should summarize them all in a buyer’s guide to make it a bit more digestible and organized. Introducing…. the best CeraVe products! (Moisturizer Edition.)

Because I know we all have time constraints here’s quick summary of their differences.

  • CeraVe PM: excellent for hyperpigmentation and all skin types, particularly dehydrated skin in need of barrier recover. Has anti-aging benefits and brightens skin tone. Good for psoriasis, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, pityrosporum folliculitis (“fungal acne”), and rosacea.
  • CeraVe Baby: good for sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. Excellent for barrier recovery. Has a gorgeous matte finish.
  • CeraVe Cream: good for dry skin and barrier recovery. The most moisturizing of the four. Good for eczema, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and pityrosporum folliculitis (“fungal acne”).
  • CeraVe Lotion: lighter version of CeraVe cream. Good for reactive, normal, or combination skin and those looking for something a little more basic. It’s watery lotion feel makes it the easiest of the four to spread across skin.

In my personal opinion, I think the best one is this group is CeraVe PM. However, because everyone’s skin is unique and different, I think it’s a little dishonest to just say one is better than the other.

So with that said, I will be focusing on which one is optimal for YOUR specific skin type, by giving a list of scenarios when each moisturizer would be best suited. Not all of us are trying to target the same skin problem. Some of us might have oily acne prone skin, other’s might have dry skin that never breaks out. There’s sensitive skin, aging skin, dehydrated skin, sun-damaged skin, not to mention hundreds of different skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, eczema etc. — you get the point.

But before I do that, let’s quickly discuss what each has in common before distinguishing their differences.

As an aside, if you’d like to read the full review of any moisturizer specifically, feel free to click the following links: CeraVe PMCeraVe CreamCeraVe LotionCeraVe Baby.

What do all these CeraVe moisturizers have in common?

  • Ceramides

Approximately 50% of the skin’s surface is made up of ceramides. (123) These lovely little critters play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy moisture barrier, which is important for many things including fighting off pathogens and preventing skin diseases like acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis etc.

All 4 of these moisturizers include three different kinds of ceramides (i.e. Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, and Ceramide 1), and function as skin identical ingredients that the body metabolizes to increase skin hydration and repair barrier damage. (4)

If you’d like more info about the skin’s barrier function and how it works. Read my post about pH and the acid mantle.

  • Hyaluronic Acid

A very potent humectant that’s capable of holding one thousand times its water weight! (56) It moisturizers by attracting water from the dermis (deeper layer of skin) and atmosphere, which it then binds to the surface of skin . It also promotes and significantly speeds up the wound healing process. (78910)

  • Cholesterol

Like ceramides, it’s another natural part of human skin, compromising approximately 25% of the outer layer (stratum corneum). It plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin and repairing barrier function. (11)

  • Dimethicone

A silicon-based polymer and skin protectant. It has both occlusive and emollient properties, meaning it will moisturize the skin by creating a superficial barrier as well as sinking into dry crevices (fractured protein links). This helps smooth out roughness, makes skin softer, and improves elasticity. (121314) It’s one of the most common ingredients found in moisturizers because of how well tolerated it is across many skin types including those that are acne-prone. (15)

Alrighty, that we’ve quickly summarized their similarities. Let’s discuss their differences.

1. Cerave PM

cerave pm

Full ingredient list.

Purified Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Niacinamide, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

The main difference between CeraVe PM and the rest of these facial moisturizers is the addition of 4% niacinamide — a B-complex vitamin and all star ingredient that does a little bit of everything. It increases skin hydration and helps barrier function. (1617) Increases collagen production, has anti-aging and anti-wrinkling benefits comparable to prescription tretinoin(181920212223And some studies have even shown it’s more effective than antibiotics in treating acne. (242526)

With that said, CeraVe PM would be ideal for somebody that wants anti-aging benefits or is dealing with hyperpigmentation issues or skin discolorations. It has a gel-cream consistency and spreads easily across the skin, leaving no oily residue.

cerave pm applicationcerave pm spreadcerave pm dried

Like all CeraVe products, it’s an excellent option for those that need help repairing a damaged moisture barrier. It’s also good for acne, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, pityrosporum folliculitis, and rosacea.

With the exception of acne, all the skin conditions listed above are potentially aggravated by a commonsensical yeast known as malassezia that feeds on fatty acids with carbon chain lengths 11 through 24.

The ingredients inside CeraVe PM are all outside this problematic (11-24), meaning it won’t feed malassezia and potentially make these skin conditions worse. If you’d like more information about malassezia, I go into detail about it in my CeraVe PM, CeraVe Cream, and CeraVe Lotion reviews.

2. CeraVe Baby Moisturizing Lotion Review

cerave baby

Full ingredient list.

Active Ingredient: Dimethicone 1% (Skin Protectant)

Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Niacinamide, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lauric Acid, Zinc Citrate, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Arginine PCA, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, EDTA, Sodium PCA, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer.

Good for sensitive skin, but would also work for normal, combination, and oily skin types as well. This is a pretty light lotion and perfect for people who don’t like the tacky or sticky feelings of moisturizers. It has a very cosmetically elegant finish (one of the best I’ve ever tried). It dries completely matte and isn’t noticeable on the skin whatsoever, but provides hydration and aids in barrier recover.


The addition of lauric acid might aggravate malassezia conditions, so proceed with caution if you’re suffering from seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, rosacea, or pityrosporum folliculitis (fungal acne). The best thing to do is simply patch test it first.

3. CeraVe Cream.

cerave cream

Full ingredient list.

Purified Water, Glycerin, Ceteareth-20 And Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate And Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.

Good for dry or normal skin. This is the most moisturizing of the 4 because of the addition of petrolatum; a non-comedogenic occlusive, capable of preventing 98% of transepidermal water loss (TEWL). That’s just fancy science talk for saying it will immensely help your skin retain its juicy water content, which helps it from drying out.

what cerave cream feel likecerave cream spread testcerave cream dried on skin

As you can see it’s definitely a little heavier than the other moisturizers. So if you don’t like the feeling of rich creams, then this might not be a good choice. However, if this doesn’t bother you and you need the extra hydration this is a perfect fit. Like CeraVe PM, it is suitable for those suffering from seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, pityrosporum folliculitis, rosacea, and acne.

4. CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

cerave lotion

Full ingredient list.

Purified Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Dimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Phytosphingosine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

A lighter version of CeraVe Cream that’s good for combination, normal, oily, or reactive skin. I personally like to use this one as my daytime moisturizer.

cerave lotion spreadabilitycerave lotion spread testwhat does cerave lotion feel like

It’s ideal for those in need of something more basic, but effective enough to repair the moisture barrier. If you’re generally sensitive to moisturizers, or find that many of them simply don’t work this is a good option. As always though, make sure to patch test it first!

Also good for eczema, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, pityrosporum folliculitis, and rosacea.

Final Words.

Welp, that does it for this buyer’s guide! If you’d like more information on any one of these specifically, feel free to click on the following links: CeraVe PM, CeraVe Baby, CeraVe Cream, CeraVe Lotion.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the entire CeraVe series! These sexy lotions will always remain stables in my skincare routine. :-))