CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Vs. Lotion — Here’s The Lowdown

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CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, and its lighter-weight counterpart, CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, are both cult classics in their own right. But what sets these two moisturizers apart? To start with the similarities, dermatologist Dr. Kiran Mian tells Bustle that both of these gentle moisturizers are oil-free and fragrance-free; made with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides; and feature the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association (so they’re typically well-tolerated by people with skin sensitivities). Both also use Multivesicular Emulsion technology, which Dr. Mian says allows for a timed release of ceramides to be delivered to skin over the course of 24 hours, offering a “gradual delivery throughout the day” for long-lasting hydration.

The main difference between CeraVe’s moisturizing lotion and cream really comes down to the consistency, Dr. Mian says. “The Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a lightweight, fast-absorbing moisturizer, while the Moisturizing Cream has a thicker consistency. Those with naturally oily skin may want to opt for CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion, as it provides adequate hydration. Those with [dry skin] might fare better with CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream, as the richer formulation will help lock in moisture in those who are drier.” However, “It may be helpful to have both on hand, as daily activity can sometimes influence the skin’s needs,” Dr. Main points out. (Your skin’s dryness can fluctuate depending on the weather, too.)

Keep scrolling to learn more about both of these best-selling CeraVe moisturizers, as well as a few more fan-favorite lotions and creams from the brand.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Though all of the CeraVe moisturizers here are going to help treat dry skin, this rich cream — which can be used on both your face and body — has an advantage over the lotion for a few reasons. For one, if you’re in need of maximum, long-lasting moisture, choose the cream over the lotion. According to Dr. Mian, though both the cream and the lotion use MVE technology, “a cream would typically be better at providing long-lasting moisture, as the thicker formulation will provide a barrier, preventing transepidermal water loss throughout the day.” Typically, the dermatologist likes creams in the winter months, explaining, “Regularly using a thicker cream can help restore the skin barrier to seal moisture and replenish its composition.” Another time to use the cream over the lotion is at bedtime, Dr. Mian suggests. “The cream would be optimal to use at night, pairing well with a retinoid or other active ingredients [and] providing extra hydration overnight.”

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

During the day, or before a workout, CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion may be the better choice, the dermatologist says. With its nice, light texture, it absorbs into skin more quickly so you can get dressed immediately without waiting around for it to dry. (The practical pump-top bottle may be a selling point for some, too.) She also thinks it’s a great warm-weather pick, when your skin is typically less dry. But just because it’s lightweight doesn’t mean it won’t offer all sorts of nourishing benefits, thanks to all those aforementioned ingredients, including glycerin, which Dr. Mian explains is one of the most effective humectants out there. “Humectants draw moisture towards them, and [the] glycerin in CeraVe’s products keeps the epidermis hydrated,” she says.

Like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, this light, oil-free lotion can be applied to your face, body, and hands. At bedtime, you can swap the lotion out for the thicker cream for overnight repairing, if you think your skin needs it.

Here Are Some Other CeraVe Moisturizers You May Like

Best For Rough, Bumpy Skin

CeraVe’s best-selling SA cream (which also comes in a lighter lotion form) uses salicylic acid to gently exfoliate, unclog pores, and promote generally smoother skin, making it a great choice for people with keratosis pilaris or body acne. As the same time, it hydrates, soothes, and strengthens, thanks to hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and like all CeraVe products, those skin-protecting ceramides delivered via the brand’s MVE Technology, respectively. This is best reserved for your body only — not your face.

Best For Itchy, Irritated Skin

Itchy skin caused by eczema, extreme dryness, or even bug bites should be soothed immediately with CeraVe’s Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream. The main medicated ingredient in here is 1% pramoxine hydrochloride — according to CeraVe, it’s neither an antihistamine nor a steroid — which purportedly offers up to eight hours of reduced itchiness and irritation. This also features the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, but if you’re unsure whether this would be right for you, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist.

Like most CeraVe creams, this is also available in a lighter lotion version, which comes in a smaller, pump-top bottle.

Best Ointment For Chapped Skin

If you’re really struggling with chapped, cracked skin, turn to the brand’s Healing Ointment, made with petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly). This ingredient is incredibly effective for treating and resolving all sorts of skin discomforts, including, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, soothing dry, cracked, and even bleeding skin; keeping minor wounds moist and helping them heal faster; and alleviating chafing and diaper rash. Of course, like most CeraVe products, the formula is balanced out by ceramides and hyaluronic acid, and doesn’t contain any fragrance.

I often use this extremely rich moisturizer, but I find that it doesn’t absorb as quickly as the brand’s moisturizing cream or lotion, so I typically only apply it on very dry spots that need a little extra TLC, or I apply a thick layer on my hands and feet and then put on socks and cotton gloves before going to sleep. You can use this on your lips, too — it’ll make them feel super smooth and soft, even if they were very chapped and dry.

Best Moisturizer With SPF

If you’re looking for a gentle, nourishing moisturizer with sunscreen for daily use, CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is a great choice for most skin types. The lightweight, fluid formula is oil-free, absorbs quickly into skin without leaving behind a white cast, and is made with both chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients. Additionally, niacinamide, glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid offer all the moisture and hydration your skin needs, minus any greasiness or pore-clogging ingredients.


Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kiran Mian, D.O.