When I think about the drugstore skincare brand CeraVe, classic ceramide-based affordable skincare products come to mind. Never glamorous or trendy, CeraVe products are formulated to work at a reasonable price. A favorite of dermatologists, CeraVe focuses on skincare science to solve a range of skincare concerns. Today, I’d like to discuss some of the best CeraVe drugstore skincare products.
But first, a bit about the company:
History of CeraVe
Did you know that CeraVe was founded in 2005? This relatively new skincare company launched with just three products: Hydrating Cleanser, Moisturizing Lotion, and Moisturizing Cream. CeraVe was developed with dermatologists to address a common skincare issue: a compromised skin barrier. So if you have sensitive or damaged skin, CeraVe probably has a product for you!
After experts realized that skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin all shared a compromised skin barrier, CeraVe launched their brand with formulations rooted in science using skin-loving ingredients targeted at skin barrier repair, specifically ceramides, the word behind the brand name.
CeraVe is Dermatologist Recommended
Now the #1 dermatologist recommended skincare brand, CeraVe is well known for its use of ceramides in its skincare products. Many of their products contain a blend of three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and other soothing ingredients to restore skin barrier function.
The brand is also well known for its targeted itch relief and dry skin products that are helpful for skin conditions like eczema. The National Eczema Association has recommended over 20 CeraVe products, and CeraVe has been given more seals of approval from the Nation Eczema Association than any other brand.
In 2017 L’Oréal acquired CeraVe. Available in over 35 countries worldwide, CeraVe is currently one of the fastest-growing skincare brands in the US. CeraVe offers several products in a variety of skincare categories.
With a shift in the beauty world toward a focus on skincare since the early days of the pandemic, CeraVe continues to experience quick growth and is surpassing many large skincare brands in sales. If you’ve watched TikTok or YouTube videos on skincare, you’re sure to see cult-favorite CeraVe products pop up. For more on CeraVe’s success, check out this video from Women’s Wear Daily.
What Are Ceramides?
The skin barrier is your outermost layer of skin cells. Ceramides are lipids (fats) that are found naturally in your skin barrier and comprise up to 50% of this layer of skin cells. Think of ceramides as the glue that holds skin cells together. They form a protective layer that helps retain moisture in your skin and keep out bacteria, dirt, and other environmental aggressors.
Your skin’s ceramides decrease as you age. In addition, environmental factors can also deplete ceramides. As a result, your skin barrier may weaken. This can lead to dry, red, and irritated skin. Luckily, ceramides can be replenished via topical skincare products.
While nine different ceramides have been identified in the stratum corneum layer of the skin (the top/outer layer of skin), CeraVe products include three of these ceramides. CeraVe formulates its products with a blend of three essential ceramides, ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II, otherwise known as Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, and Ceramide EOP, to support the skin’s barrier.
While any skincare brand can include ceramides in its formulas, CeraVe formulates them in the optimal combination for the best results. For more info on ceramides, please see this INCI Decoder page.
Related Post: CeraVe vs Cetaphil: Which is Better?
Emulsion Technology (MVE)
CeraVe uses the patented MultiVesicular
CeraVe suggests thinking of this process as an onion with many layers. As each layer peels away, you get the benefits of these skin-soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. This helps skin to stay hydrated, soft, and supple all day long.
So now that we know the basis of CeraVe product formulations, let take a look at the best CeraVe drugstore skincare products:
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The Best CeraVe Drugstore Skincare Products
CeraVe is well known for its excellent selection of cleansers that are targeted at multiple skin types. I am including CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser in this best-of list because it combines ingredients/characteristics of three other CeraVe cleansers. So in essence, you get the best of multiple CeraVe products in this one cleanser.
This non-comedogenic, fragrance-free face wash is formulated with CeraVe’s three essential ceramides to protect your skin barrier. You get the benefits of a hydrating cleanser, like CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, thanks to hyaluronic acid and amino acids that support the skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF). You also get the benefits of a foaming formula, like CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, for that clean skin feel. Plus, this cleanser contains salicylic acid, also found in CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, to deep clean pores.
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser contains CeraVe’s MVE Technology, a patented delivery system that releases moisturizing ingredients continuously over time. It cleans your skin but doesn’t leave it feeling stripped or dry like some other foaming cleansers. It is suitable for those who have sensitive skin and for contact lens wearers.
Please note that this cleanser is formulated for Normal to Dry skin, so this cream-to-foam cleanser may not be the best CeraVe cleanser for YOUR skin type (especially if your skin is oily).
Here is a list of CeraVe liquid cleansers and their corresponding skin types:
- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser: Normal to Dry
- CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser: Normal to Dry
- CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser: Normal to Oily Skin
- CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser: Gentle Exfoliation for Normal Skin
- CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser: Foaming 4% benzoyl peroxide Acne Face Wash
I didn’t love the best-selling CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser because it was so creamy that it didn’t really feel like it was actually cleaning my skin. That is not the case with CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser. This cleanser contains an amino-acid based surfactant that transforms the creamy cleanser into a gentle foam that easily removes dirt, oil, and makeup and leaves your skin feeling clean without any tightness or dryness.
CeraVe was the first brand whose retinol product I could tolerate. CeraVe’s retinol serum has been reformulated and renamed to CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum. Very similar to their original retinol product, this serum is quite gentle and effective.
This formula contains encapsulated retinol for resurfacing and licorice root extract to brighten the look of your skin. It is formulated to reduce the look of post-acne marks (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and pores. It also helps to restore the skin barrier and improve skin smoothness.
The serum contains CeraVe’s signature three essential ceramides to restore your skin barrier. It also contains niacinamide, an ingredient that has a host of benefits, as it brightens and controls oil production and also soothes and smoothes wrinkles. It also uses MVE technology to continually release moisturizing ingredients.
This retinol serum may not have the highest concentration of retinol, but I saw a noticeable difference in my skin after several weeks of using this serum. My skin texture has become more refined with better clarity and pores appear smaller.
CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is lightweight and non-irritating to my somewhat sensitive skin. It is non-sticky and wears well under makeup. It also helps to speed up cell turnover so that my skin tone and texture look more even.
For a comparison of CeraVe’s two retinol serums, check out this post on CeraVe Retinol Resurfacing vs Renewing Retinol Serum.
CeraVe Eye Repair Cream for dark circles and puffiness is formulated to smooth and brighten the under-eye area. This eye cream contains a Marine & Botanical Complex to brighten the eye area and gentle ingredients such as three essential ceramides to support the skin barrier, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and calming niacinamide.
This eye cream also uses CeraVe’s patented MVE Delivery Technology that continuously releases moisture for extended hydration. It’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and formulated for all skin types. Plus, it is accepted by the National Eczema Association, is allergy-tested, and ophthalmologist-tested for safety.
The formula is non-greasy and lightweight. It is a staple drugstore eye cream in my skincare routine. This is a no-frills product, but that’s what makes it so great. It is gentle but effective in smoothing and brightening the under-eye area. It also creates a smooth base for makeup and concealer.
Related Post: Olay Retinol 24 vs CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
The first of three moisturizing products from CeraVe in this post, I’d thought that I’d start with the best-selling CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. This gentle moisturizing cream is loaded with CeraVe signature ingredients to restore your skin barrier.
This fragrance-free cream contains three essential ceramides plus hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and replenish the skin’s protective barrier. It uses CeraVe’s patented MVE Delivery Technology to continuously release moisturizing ingredients throughout the day.
The cream is rich yet does not feel greasy or oily. The best quality of this moisturizer for me? It can be used on your skin all over your body. I absolutely love this product as a body moisturizer. It sinks in quickly and is not sticky.
It’s perfect for dry to very dry skin on your face and body. I think this is the classic must-have product in the CeraVe skincare line. Effective, affordable, and can be used from head to toe.
Related Post: The Best Skincare Routine for Dry Skin
CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is a super lightweight night cream that soothes and hydrates the skin. It is formulated with three essential ceramides to restore the skin barrier. This non-comedogenic lotion also contains niacinamide to brighten and soothe the skin and hyaluronic acid to draw moisture to the skin.
The moisturizer uses CeraVe’s MVE Delivery Technology to deliver moisture to your skin throughout the day or night. I say day OR night because I absolutely LOVE to use this during the day. It is so incredibly lightweight that it almost feels like a serum.
This lotion is oil-free and won’t clog your pores. It is suitable for normal to oily skin. I think oily skin types would especially benefit from this lotion as it is non-greasy and lightweight yet protects your skin barrier and hydrates your skin.
Like the PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream is formulated with three essential ceramides to restore the skin barrier, niacinamide to calm the skin and hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin.
One of the main differences between this cream and the PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is that this cream is much thicker and almost feels like a balm when applied to the skin. This is thanks in part to moisturizing and soothing shea butter in the formula.
I think dry skin types would benefit from this night cream. It would be ideal for the cold winter months or when your skin is dry and irritated and needs a thick soothing cream to protect your skin overnight. This cream is very helpful when my skin is irritated from retinoid use.
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CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint is a tinted broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen that provides mineral UVA/UVB protection without the white cast that typically comes along with mineral sunscreens. The mineral sunscreen protection comes in the form of 5.5% titanium dioxide and 10% zinc oxide.
Like CeraVe’s other products, the sunscreen contains three essentials ceramides to restore your skin barrier while sealing in moisture. It also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to soothe and hydrate your skin.
This is a very impressive mineral sunscreen. It contains anti-aging skincare ingredients and is tinted to offset the white cast from the mineral sunscreen ingredients. I’d say the tint is a medium shade. It blends seamlessly into your skin and leaves a natural finish, not too dewy or matte.
Final Thoughts on The Best CeraVe Drugstore Skincare Products
I don’t think I’ve ever tried a CeraVe product that I didn’t like. CeraVe products simply work. The packaging may not jump out at you but the products are effectively formulated by dermatologists and contain ingredients proven to protect, restore, soothe and hydrate skin.
What are your favorite CeraVe products? I’d love to know. Thanks for reading!