CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Review (REVISITED): Sexy Little Thang
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WADDUP PERSON READING THIS? Sorry to shout at you, but I recently made some life-changing discoveries about CeraVe Cream (a.k.a. CeraVe in a tub) and I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT about it. :p
Some quick background information for everyone. I originally wrote this review on September 30th, 2016. It is now March of 2019 (holy sh*t time flies) and my opinion has changed considerably since then.
What can I say? I’ve changed….
~*cue dramatic quotes*~
Wait…. what the hell am I talking about?!? This is a skincare blog! No, but seriously, someone actually sent me an email about this recently. :'(
Like damn, who knew writing about skincare could get so emotional, you know? Lol
So yeah, my opinion about CeraVe Cream has changed for the better. Enough to bring it into holy grail territory, which is why I’ve decided to spruce up this original review. I will leave a lot of the original commentary as is, but add a few additional comments as we go.
Without further ado, let’s discuss!
Table of Contents
- 1 Ingredients And Benefits of CeraVe Cream.
- 2 Application, Feel, and Scent.
- 3 How to Use.
- 4 The Takeaway.
- 5 Want to Subscribe for Updates?
Ingredients And Benefits of CeraVe Cream.
Here’s the 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.
Right off the bat we see something particularly outstanding about this moisturizer that doesn’t apply to ~95% of all the skincare products in the world (literally). What is that you ask?
It’s 100% safe for malassezia-sensitive skin. In other words, there is nothing in the ingredient list that is food grade for yeast. This is FANTASTIC news if you suffer from any of the following skin conditions:
- Adult acne (people in their 20s and 30s have an abundance of malassezia vs. other age groups)
- Atopic dermatitis a.ka. eczema (associated with M. globosa, M. furfur, M. sympodialis, and M. restricta). [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
- Dandruff (probably caused my M. globosa). 
- Malassezia folliculitis a.k.a. fungal acne (most commonly caused by M. globosa and M. furfur). [7, 8, 9, 10]
- Psoriasis (associated with M. furfur, M.restricta, and M. globosa). [11, 12, 13]
- Seborrheic dermatitis (most commonly caused by M. furfur, M. globosa, M. restricta, though M. sympodialis, M. obtuse, M. slooffiae, and M. yamatoensis have been implicated). [14, 15, 16]
- Tinea versicolor a.k.a. pityriasis versicolor (caused by M. globosa, M. sympodialis, and M. furfur). [17, 18]
Notice how the the pathology of all the skin conditions above have one thing in common — a yeast called Malassezia. If you have any of these diseases, that would be the cause of your symptoms.
What makes having these skin conditions especially frustrating is that malassezia feeds on fatty acids and oils, which automatically rules out the majority of skincare products because most will include these in the form of emulsifiers and thickeners.
It’s why you may have found that literally EVERY. STINKING. PRODUCT. out there causes your skin to act up. Whether that’s through an eczema flare or new set of pimples.
I have spent a long time looking for moisturizers that work for malassezia sensitivities, and I’m happy to report that CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is one of those because it’s mostly a mixture of fatty alcohols, MCT oil (caprylic/capric triglycerides), and ceramides. None of which feed malassezia.
For anyone wondering — CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, CeraVe Healing Ointment, and CeraVe AM are the only compatible products for malassezia out of the entire CeraVe line. Everything else including their cleansers, serums, lotions etc. might give you trouble since they have ingredients that are food grade for the yeast.
For more information about treating fungal acne, or skin conditions where malassezia is the culprit, check out this sexy link.
Now back to discussing the beneficial ingredients of Cerave Cream….
A humectant that moisturizes the skin by drawing water from the environment and dermis (deeper layer of skin). Considering how high up in the ingredient list this is, we can expect it makes up at least 5% of this formula.
This would normally make our skincare products quite sticky, but the inclusion of fatty alcohols like ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol, and cetyl alcohol work as detackifiers to make the moisturizer velvety smooth.
Also known as medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil). This is essentially coconut oil without the lauric fatty acid component.
Why is this beneficial?
For one, it allows it to stay liquid at room temperature which makes it a more favorable ingredient to formulate into cosmetics. Could you imagine trying to pump out solid coconut oil from a moisturizer bottle?
But more importantly, removing the lauric fatty acid component makes this oil more tolerable across many skin types — especially for those with malassezia induced sensitivities (i.e. adult acne, atopic dermatitis/eczema, dandruff, malassezia folliculitis/fungal acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, tinea versicolor/pityriasis versicolor).
Recall from the information above how malassezia feeds on oils. That’s because most oils have fatty acids in the form of triglycerides that malassezia can hydrolyze.
English = the stupid yeast that causes all those skin problems I listed above can break down specific parts of oils, which it then uses to grow and make your skin problems worse. Woohoo! (Sarcasm)
The only exception to this rule is MCT oil a.k.a caprylic/capric triglycerides because it’s a mixture of saturated fatty acids that have carbon chain lengths of 8 and 10 (respectively), meaning they are “too short” for malassezia to utilize.
Side note: mineral oil and squalane are okay too.
What’s even cooler about the fatty acids that make up MCT oil (i.e. caprylic and capric) is that they directly inhibit malassezia in vitro. (19) In other words, they work like natural anti-fungals.
The absence of any fatty acids, esters, polysorbates, and oils except caprylic/capric triglycerides make CeraVe Cream a unique product that won’t aggravate skin conditions like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, pityrosporum folliculitis, psoriasis etc. Something that can’t be said about 90% of the moisturizers out there.
Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, and Ceramide 1
Ceramides are the most abundant part of the lamellar sheets present in the intercellular spaces of the stratum corneum. (20)
English = they are main part of the protective barrier of skin.
The outer layer of skin is composed of approximately 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids. (21, 22, 23) All these play a crucial role in hydrating and maintaining healthy skin.
Ceramides, specifically, help regulate cells, repair damaged skin, and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). (20) They also make your skin super soft and smooth! 😀
Have you ever wondered why baby skin is the most beautiful thing on planet earth? That would be the ceramides! Here’s a quote from the TheBeautyBrains:
“Newborn infants, especially premature ones, are born with a waxy or cheese-like coating on their skin that prevents them from losing too much moisture. That coating is called the vernix caseosa and it is composed, primarily, of ceramides.” (24)
Interestingly enough, ceramides get depleted from our skin as we age making us more susceptible to aging and general unsexiness.
Luckily for us, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream comes with 3 different types of ceramides so we don’t have to worry about that! :p These function like the ones naturally present on our skin and help repair barrier damage / prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). (25)
Another naturally occurring substance in our skin, and potent humectant capable of holding 1000 times it’s water weight! (26, 27)
It’s extremely effective at hydrating skin by drawing moisture from the environment, and gives a “plumping” effect that reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It also promotes and significantly speeds up wound healing. (28, 29, 30, 31)
For more information about hyaluronic acid, check out this recent article.
Yet another skin identical ingredient that helps repair barrier function and maintain healthy skin. (32)
Also known as petroleum jelly (vaseline). Contrary to popular belief this isn’t comedogenic at all. In fact, the molecules that make up petrolatum are too big to clog pores. They simply sit on top of the skin and form a barrier.
It’s the most powerful occlusive on planet earth, capable of preventing up to 98% of transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
Like Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (MCT oil), it is also suitable for malassezia related skin conditions because it’s carbon chain length is 25 and above (malassezia needs 11-24). It’s one of the best tolerated cosmetic ingredients to date, and will go a very long way in keeping skin hydrated. All the more reason to be about that slug life! How I look after I apply vaseline to my face….
As an aside, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is one of the only moisturizer in the CeraVe line that includes petrolatum. This makes it a bit richer and more hydrating that the rest.
A silicone-based polymer that acts as an emollient and occlusive. It prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL), smooths the skin’s surface, improves the moisture barrier, and protects your skin from the environment (e.g. pollution). (33, 34, 35)
It’s pretty much just a kick ass moisturizing agent and a very common ingredient in lotions because of how well tolerated it is across many skin types including those that are acne-prone. (36) Wow, that was a run on sentence…..
Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetyl Alcohol
These two register as potentially pore-clogging ingredients on COSDNA. However, take the comedogenic scale with a huge grain of salt. It is an inherently flawed concept that relies on data obtained from rabbit ears.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but… I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be reading this if you were a bunny. Could be wrong though.
If you suspect you have sensitivities to fatty alcohols (like Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetyl Alcohol) the best thing to do is patch test. While this moisturizer may work brilliantly for many people including myself, there’s no real way of guaranteeing it will for you. Skincare is a very individual thing.
But I’m like…. 95% positive dis sh*t will work amazingly for you… Just saying. :^)
UPDATE 5/1/2017: I’ve also gotten my younger sister to use this moisturizer with a lot of success. She similarly has incredibly finicky malassezia-sensitive skin, and absolutely hated CeraVe PM (my old moisturizer of choice) because it caused her to break out.
Don’t tell her I posted this unflattering photo of her because she will kill me, but here’s a pic she sent me this morning because she was having a “good skin day.” I blame the CeraVe Cream. :p
Her skin has definitely made noticeable improvements since dropping all the “food grade” ingredients for yeast, something I go over in my fungal acne guide.
Application, Feel, and Scent.
As you can see this lotion is pretty freaking thick!
As soon as this stuff goes on, your skin instantly feels the richness of it. It surprisingly has a very mattifying effect on the skin though. Shocking, right?
But seriously, it dries matte. Despite being super rich and moisturizing, it doesn’t look or feel like anything is on the skin, except for the noticeable softness it leaves behind. Which reminds me….
I don’t know what the hell it is about this moisturizer, maybe the ceramides, maybe the cetyl alcohol, BUT IT MAKES MY SKIN INCREDIBLY SOFT.
Try it out and you’ll see what I mean. At first, it almost feels kind of drying, but give it 20 minutes and… BOOM. Smooth city. You’ll be touching your skin the rest of the day, perplexed by how such a simple formula has turned you into a baby’s ass.
According to CeraVe this happens because of some crazy “MVE® Delivery Technology” which slowly releases the ingredients over a 24 hour period. Interestingly enough, there’s actually some truth to this. Here’s quote from a research paper about this #NewTechnology.
“This novel technology involves the creation of a 2-phase, oil-in-water emulsion system that produces concentric multilamellar spheres of oil and water. Active ingredients can be released from their respective layers upon application to the skin. In addition to a controlled-release of active agents, the multivesicular emulsion base improves the biophysical properties of the skin by reducing transepidermal water loss and enhancing skin hydration.” (37)
In other words, it will slowly release those sweet sweet ceramides into your skin throughout the day for lasting hydration. You know how sometimes you apply moisturizers and your skin feels drier than the Mohave Desert a couple hours later?
Yeah, that’s not a problem with this moisturizer. I’ve yet to ever get the “tight” feeling from using this after several hours.
UPDATE 3/22/19: I’ve been using CeraVe Baby Cream for the better part of 2 years now, and prefer to the adult version. It’s literally the exact same thing without the MVE technology and parabens. This is good for two reasons:
- It’s better suited for sensitive skin.
- It won’t penetrate into the skin as deeply, which is excellent if your skin is particularly clog-prone.
I also find that this moisturizer is incredibly good for oil control. I can only speculate as to why. I imagine it’s the high concentration of fatty alcohols that absorb your oils throughout the day.
As far as scents go, CeraVe Moisturzing Cream smells very similar to CeraVe Baby Lotion (i.e. fluffy vanilla cake), but to a lesser extent with a hint of rubbery lotion thrown into the mix.
How to Use.
Very straight forward. 🙂 Simply apply it as the last step in your routine before occlusives like vaseline, aquaphor, or cerave healing ointment (if you use them). It can be used twice daily.
- Ingredients: 5/5
A great mix of moisturizing and skin identical ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, and petrolatum.
- Benefits: 5/5
Soothes and repairs damaged skin. Strengthens the moisture barrier, and helps maintain healthy skin.
- Application: 5/5
Fantastic application. It’s super moisturizer but goes on matte, provides lasting hydration throughout the day, and is good for oil control.
- Packaging: 4/5
I was going to give it a 3 star here because jar packaging is unsanitary. However, CeraVe recently began including pump dispensers with this moisture. If you do get one without a pump, just make sure to use a q-tip or little spoon to scoop out the product.
Pro-Tip: you can steal little spoons from Baskin Robbins or similar ice cream parlors.
- Value: 5/5
Phenomenally priced for the impressive formula and amount of product you receive. This tub will easily last you several months to a year.
Overall: 4.8/5 (Highly Recommend!)
To conclude, ceraVe is awesome! It will last a looooong time and is completely suitable for those suffering from eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, malassezia (pityrosporum) folliculitia a.k.a. fungal acne, psoriasis, and tinea versicolor. This moisturizer is ideal for all skin types, and is particularly useful for those with damaged moisture barriers who need serious hydration.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this review!
Tell your friends about CeraVe Cream’s creamy goodness!
This moisturizer sounds like one to try! I can’t express enough how literally life changing your blog and hard work you generously share here has been for me. Your perspective and insight is fresh, fun to read, and your attitude about it is humble and matter of fact, but remains open to growth and persistent learning about this complicated subject! I too, like Denise (hello my beautiful friend! <3) thought that fatty alcohols such as Ceteareth-20 and Cetearyl alcohol would kill a product for me. I thought so when I tried Stratia Liquid Gold which has Cetyl Alcohol and the Cerave pm, that the fatty alcohols were why I experienced congestion. Maybe.. but maybe it was the malassezia feeding ingredients instead that caused problems. Since reading this update, I will definitely give this cream a go to test my theory! Your perspective on comedogenic ingredients is also very refreshing and incredibly thought provoking for me as well. I also thought silicone was just an awful pore clogger too… until I started using the Cerave Healing Ointment. Denise here told me how great it was for her in helping calm oil production which prompted me to try a product with dimethicone too and I had the same result. There is just so much misinformation out there, then in the midst of it all, I find your amazing blog and its like a helping hand! Thanks so much for taking the time to share this info!
Hi! First of all, great review and I can’t wait to try this product. Hierover, I live in Europe and the only version of this I’ve been able to find lists different ingredients:
Aqua/ water, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, caprylic/ capric triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, ceteareth-20, petrolatum, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, behentrimonium methosulfate, potassium phosphate, ethylhexylglycerin, sodium lauroyl lactylate, disodium EDTA, dipotassium phosphate, ceramide NP, ceramide AP, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, xanthan gum, carbomer, sodium hyaluronate, tocopherol, ceramide EOP
The order is different so I suppose there’s lessen of the active ingredients than in your version. Would you still recommend this?
Tried this – and got breakouts all over my shoulders where I was patch testing it. Bummer! They look like my typical fungal acne breakouts. I wonder why it caused this? Oh well!
In the post you mentioned you no longer recommend CeraVe PM or Lotion due to esters and polysorbates. I’m struggling with the ingredient list – which items listed are esters or polysorbates? (And thank you for your amazing work here. )
CeraVe PM Ingredients:
Purified Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Niacinamide, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20 and 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.
I bought this Cereve Moisturizing Cream to help hydrate my combo KP skin–both body and face. While I do find it hydrating, I also find that it started causing a small number small white heads and the occasional cystic acne spot on my arms, thighs and face. The funny thing is that most products I’ve tried over the years do not break me out. In the past (I know now this is awful) I would buy whatever face product or body lotion looked interesting and never had any issues with products causing breakouts (I was probably just very lucky). But the moisturizing cream noticeably clogs up my skin — like I’ve never had cystic acne on my thigh before but hello. I wanted so bad to love it because it’s an HG for so many but it just doesn’t work for me. What do you think is the acne-causing culprit here?
When you buy this new should it be sealed in any way? I bought some to try for my daughter’s eczema, and when I unscrewed the cap for the first time, there was nothing sealing the product (i.e., I screwed opened the cap, and I saw the cream.
I should thank you for bringing Cerave Cream to my attention, in light of all the Malassezia dermatitis research you’ve done, because it has been one of the best products I’ve found to help treat my constantly taut, shiny, dehydrated skin, and it’s amazing to me that it absorbs so well and leaves a matte finish to boot, which wasn’t quite what I was expecting from a “cream” (and indeed it was my expectations that it would be too thick and greasy that had me avoiding it for as long as I have).
Another valuable thing I learnt was that I should really just focus on using a moisturiser that does what it says: moisturise. I went through a phase where I kept trying to find the “best” moisturiser, in terms of it being a multitasking powerhouse packed with as many antioxidants, vitamins, skin-identical ingredients, etc., as possible. Cerave Cream has some stellar skin-barrier repair ingredients, but compared to a lot of other moisturisers I’ve been trying it’s still quite basic. But it’s helped me a lot to just focus on a moisturiser that moisturises, and moisturises damn well, and leave any of the flashy ingredients for other products like toners or serums. There was an article, I believe written by Fifty Shades of Snail, which helped me come to this realisation; I can’t find the link, but the gist of it was that cleansers are just meant to cleanse, moisturisers are just meant to moisturise, and any of the sexy skincare goodies, like antioxidants, should be in the products you use in-between.
Hi I want t ask if this cream suitable for oily skin? I mean I read a few article about the suitable texture of moisturizer for oily skin and most of them mention about light-weight and gel like moisturizer. Based on your picture its pretty thick to be consider as ‘light-weight’ so what are your thought about it?
The cerave Cream in the EU is only available in the dry to very dry skin variation with a different ingredients list. Any thoughts? The ceramides are so low on the list… it seems very occlusive. FA safe?
Aqua / water, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, caprylic / capric triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, ceteareth-20, petrolatum, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, behentrimonium methosulfate, potassium phosphate, ethylhexylglycerin, sodium lauroyl lactylate, disodium edta, dipotassium phosphate, ceramide np , ceramide ap, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, xanthan gum, carbomer, sodium hyaluronate, tocopherol, ceramide eop.
I wish i could try this cream, but glycerin in high amounts irritates my face badly.
My second comment on your blog! Lol. You convinced me to try this cream. I’m not necessarily dry, but some of the products I use for treating my acne can dry or irritate my skin a teeny bit, so I wanted something more moisturizing than their lotion. Especially with winter coming 😮 I live in the south though, so I’ll probably swap this for something lighter on particularly hot and humid days.
I’ve seen a few posts on SCA with people bashing this cream for making them break out. None really had a good, backed up idea as to what ingredient made them break out, though. Some said they broke out immediately, and some said it took a month. I’m a bit worried I might end up as one of those people, as I want to love this cream. Do you have any thoughts on what ingredient or combo of ingredients could be the culprit?
The CereVe cream you reviewed says “for normal to dry skin” but the only ones I found online and in store say “for dry to very dry skin” Is it okay for me to use the dry skin one as I can’t find the exact one you reviewed :/ my skin type is combination/oily
What are your thhoughts on the paraben ingredient?
I don’t know if you have tried The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors, but I was wondering how do you think it compares to CeraVe if you have?
Hi, thanks for your work. The German Amazon offers a slightly different formula (https://www.amazon.de/Cerave-Very-Moisturizing-Cream-170ml/dp/B07C5VMJPW/).
The ingredients you listed:
01. Purified Water
04. Cetearyl Alcohol
05. Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
06. Behentrimonium Methosulfate
07. Cetyl Alcohol
08. Ceramide 3
09. Ceramide 6-II
10. Ceramide 1
11. Hyaluronic Acid
15. Potassium Phosphate
16. Dipotassium Phosphate
17. Sodium Lauryl Lactylate
18. Disodium Edta
25. Xanthan Gum
German CeraVe Cream:
04. CETEARYL ALCOHOL
05. CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE
06. BEHENTRIMONIUM METHOSULFATE
07. CETYL ALCOHOL
08. CERAMIDE NP (Ceramid 3)
09. CERAMIDE AP (Ceramid 6)
10. CERAMIDE EOP (Ceramide 9)
15. POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE
16. DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE
17. SODIUM HYALURONATE
18. DISODIUM EDTA
24. XANTHAN GUM
26. SODIUM LAUROYL LACTYLATE
Looks like they got rid of the parabens and added some other ingredients (?).
What’s the difference in using petrolatum in the ingredient list of the moisturizer and using vaseline separatedly over a petrolatum-free moisturizer? And is there any added benefit of using vaseline after the moisturizer if the moisturizer already has petrolatum in it?
I used this product after beginning prescription retinal. At first I thought I loved it – but then what I noticed was instead of hydrating my skin it almost sat ontop of the dry skin, if that makes sense. So halfway through the day, my face would be peeling again! If I added more, then I could literally rub the dry skin off like it was pilling (think an old sweater) it was gross. I tried the FAB moisturizer from Sephora, no peeling and no dryness even only using it once per day, but I broke out in cystic type acne within one week! No go. I’m not sure if it’s the “cream” texture of the Cerave VS the serum type texture of the other that allowed it to penetrate my skin better, I was going to try the cerave PM but now I don’t think its such a good idea. Any advise when this moisturizer doesn’t work for very dry skin?
Hi FC! I’m rly loving your blog and all it’s sciencey wonderfulness. Probably the first blog I’ve come across which rly does his research and so much more! Thank you!!!
I’m interested in replacing my current moisturiser with cerave but wondering if the PM lotion (with it’s ?potentially better ingredients particularly niacinamide) would be better suited for me as I’m not sensitive to malassezia. However, I’m also looking to incorporate The Ordinary’s niacinamide 10% into my regime, so would that then render the PM lotion completely unnecessary you think?
FYI, my skin is pretty clear (if I may say so myself) with the occasional hormonal acne on my chin and some PIE on my cheeks. I’d say my main problem areas are enlarged pores & sebaceous filaments on my nose (ugh). I think I have pretty tough skin as I can tolerate tretinoin 0.05% on an almost daily basis without any irritation.
Not even sure if you would read this but I hope you do! Much love!
I was just checking to make sure this Cerave Moisturizing Cream is still ok for fungal acne and dermatitis? The update above on 6/1/17 made me wonder if you were just referring to the PM as not being safe anymore or the Moisturizing Cream. I am devouring your site but on the fence on whether or not to try this first or Sebamed. I see you rave about both. Any advice?
I just finished radiation treatment and wanted an honest review of this product since my skin is itching like crazy and burning from the inside out. I ended up in a morning rabbit hole with your blog. You provide so much great information in a hilariously objective manner. Thank you.