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CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser vs Foaming Cleanser

CeraVe is a well-known skincare line known for its hydrating and moisturizing skincare products. CeraVe offers many cleansers, including CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.

Both of these cleansers aim to effectively cleanse skin while maintaining its natural protective barrier. But which is the right cleanser for you?

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser vs Foaming Cleanser, side by side.

In this CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser vs Foaming Cleanser post, I’ll compare ingredients, formula texture, price, and skin type to help you make the right decision for your complexion.

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CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is a best-selling cleanser formulated for normal to dry skin. This cleanser is all about protecting your skin’s natural moisture barrier with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

The hydrating cream cleanser is designed to remove makeup, dirt, and oil without drying out your skin. It won’t strip your skin or leave it feeling tight like some cleansers.

This non-foaming cleanser contains CeraVe’s MVS Delivery Technology. MVE stands for MultiVesicular Emulsion Technology.

This technology gradually releases active ingredients over an extended period, giving your skin sustained moisture throughout the day.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Key Ingredients

  • Glycerin: A humectant commonly found in skincare products that prevents moisture loss.
  • Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, and Ceramide EOP: These three essential ceramides are lipids that form a protective barrier on the upper layers of skin to help lock in moisture. They help restore the skin barrier and hydrate the skin.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: This salt form of hyaluronic acid has a lower molecular weight than hyaluronic acid, which allows it to penetrate deep into the skin and draw moisture for long-lasting hydration.
  • Cholesterol: This lipid works with ceramides and fatty acids to support a healthy skin barrier.
  • Tocopherol: Also known as vitamin E, this antioxidant helps your skin retain moisture and protects your skin against environmental stressors.
  • Phytosphingosine: A lipid and skin-identical ingredient that is present in the outer layers of skin alone and also as a part of ceramides. This active has antimicrobial properties that may help with acne.

This gentle cleanser is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores and is fragrance-free.

It is very gentle and non-irritating, making it best suited for dry or sensitive skin.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleaner is accepted by the National Eczema Association (NEA).

To receive the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance, a product must undergo sensitivity, irritation, and toxicity testing and a review of ingredient and formulation data.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser bottle next to sample on hand.

This face wash feels very gentle on my skin.

The main drawback for me is that it doesn’t feel like a very strong surfactant. It doesn’t do a great job of removing all my makeup and cleaning my skin.

So I like to remove my makeup first with a cleansing balm, oil-based cleanser, or micellar water, and then follow with this cleanser as a second cleanse.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is a foaming gel cleanser formulated for normal to oily skin types.

This foaming face wash makes quick work of oil, dirt, and makeup, but unlike many foaming cleansers, it won’t strip your skin or disrupt your skin barrier.

The cleanser contains CeraVe’s signature ingredients: three essential ceramides, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), and skin barrier-boosting niacinamide.

Niacinamide also helps brighten your skin while balancing oil production, which makes it a great option for those with oily or combination skin.

Like other CeraVe products, this face wash also contains CeraVe’s MVE technology, which slowly releases ingredients over time to provide sustained hydration.

It’s fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (it won’t clog pores), and doesn’t contain any harsh detergents or surfactants.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser sampled on hand.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser Key Ingredients

  • Glycerin: Glycerin is a natural humectant that helps to attract water to the skin, keeping it hydrated and moisturized.
  • Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP: Also called Ceramides 3, 6-II, and 1, these ceramides are an essential part of healthy skin because they help maintain the skin’s barrier by locking in moisture and protecting against environmental aggressors.
  • Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide helps fade hyperpigmentation and dark spots and even out skin tone while improving the appearance of enlarged pores. Niacinamide also increases collagen production for firmer skin with a decrease in the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a lipid naturally present in our skin that helps restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.
  • Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is a smaller form of hyaluronic acid that penetrates deep into the skin to deliver maximum hydration and plumpness.
  • Phytosphingosine: A skin-identical ingredient and natural fat found in our skin, phytosphingosine helps rebuild the skin barrier and maintain proper hydration levels. It also offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.

The cleanser creates a gentle foaming that rinses away cleanly without drying out my skin. I reach for this cleanser when I want my skin to feel squeaky clean without feeling stripped.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser vs Foaming Cleanser

Shared Active Ingredients

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and Foaming Cleanser have very similar formulas and are both non-comedogenic and fragrance-free.

They share the following ingredients:

  • Glycerin
  • Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP
  • Cholesterol
  • Phytosphingosine

Both contain CeraVe’s MVE Technology. Think of MVE like a sphere containing layers that slowly dissolve, releasing moisturizing ingredients over time.

Different Active Ingredients

There are some differences in the formulas: CeraVe Foaming Cleanser contains surfactants that create a foaming action.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser contains vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that can help protect the skin from environmental damage.

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser contains niacinamide, which can help to reduce redness, improve skin tone and texture, and even out your complexion.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleaner is accepted by the National Eczema Association, while CeraVe Foaming Cleanser is not.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and Foaming Cleanser, side by side.


One of the most significant differences between the two cleansers is the texture/consistency.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is a cream cleanser with a lightweight lotion-like consistency that does not foam.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser has a much creamier consistency, which helps to lock in moisture and leave skin feeling hydrated.

The Foaming Cleanser has a gel consistency and creates a foaming action on the skin that gently removes dirt, oil, and makeup.

I notice that my skin feels cleaner after using CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.

Skin Type

As you can tell from the ingredient and texture comparisons, the cleansers are formulated for different skin types.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is best suited for those with normal to dry skin.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is best suited for those with normal to oily skin.


Both cleansers come in multiple sizes, from tiny 3 oz bottles ideal for travel to large 16 oz bottles.

While prices for the two cleansers are comparable, and both are available at drugstore pricing, CeraVe Foaming cleanser tends to be slightly more expensive than CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser.

Prices vary based on cleanser size and retailer.

CeraVe Cleanser Alternatives

If neither CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser nor Foaming Cleanser is right for you, several other CeraVe cleansers may be more suitable for your skin type.

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

If you want the best of both worlds (the hydration of a cream cleanser and the foaming action of a foaming cleanser), you should consider CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser.

Formulated for normal to dry skin CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser has a creamy consistency that transforms into a gentle foam when mixed with water.

The cleanser removes dirt, oil, and makeup effectively while respecting your skin barrier without stripping your skin.

An amino acid-based surfactant creates a delicate foam that removes impurities and dead skin cells while being gentle on your skin.

The fragrance-free cleanser contains CeraVe’s three essential ceramides and several amino acids to restore and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier.

Salicylic acid helps to reduce excess sebum, while hyaluronic acid and glycerin help to hydrate skin.

PCA and Sodium PCA are moisturizers naturally found in the skin that help replenish the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

NOTE: The only missing active that I would have loved to see in this cleanser is niacinamide. But since this is a rinse-off product, it’s not a deal-breaker for me.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is formulated for normal skin and contains salicylic acid for a gentle exfoliation.

Salicylic acid is a favorite active ingredient for those with oily and acne-prone skin, as it can help reduce the appearance of breakouts, whiteheads, and blackheads.

The salicylic acid face wash also contains CeraVe’s signature three essential ceramides, brightening niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid to retain moisture.

Gluconolactone, a polyhydroxy acid, works to gently exfoliate while moisturizing your skin, and vitamin D offers antioxidant protection.

Related Post: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser vs Gentle Skin Cleanser

Additional CeraVe Cleansers

CeraVe offers more cleansers that address the needs of acne-prone skin types:

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser, handheld.

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser contains 4% benzoyl peroxide plus hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and three essential ceramides to reduce acne, pimples, and blackheads without causing dryness or flaky skin.

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is a 2% salicylic acid treatment that helps reduce acne, blackheads, and the appearance of enlarged pores.

It contains CeraVe’s Oil-Absorbing Technology to reduce visible shine. Purifying clay absorbs excess oil.

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is my pick for the best CeraVe cleanser for acne.

CeraVe Hydrating Micellar Water removes eye makeup, excess dirt, and oil without needing to rinse with water. It contains niacinamide and ceramides in a 3-in-1 formula that cleanses, hydrates, and removes your makeup.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, Foaming Facial Cleanser, Renewing SA Cleanser, and Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser.

The Bottom Line

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and Foaming Cleanser are both effective and affordable cleansers but are made for different skin types.

They share many of the same active ingredients but have different textures and additional active ingredients to support normal to dry or normal to oily skin.

If you can’t decide between the two, consider CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser (my favorite CeraVe cleanser), which marries the best of both formulas with a gentle cream-to-foam texture.

Thanks for reading!