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In this article, we will be comparing a selection of products by CeraVe and Neutrogena that have been specially formulated to keep your skin's moisture barrier—which is all too often neglected—nice and healthy.

Dry, sensitive, irritable, blemish-prone, or even just mildly dehydrated skin often implies a damaged, weakened, or compromised natural moisture barrier that requires additional hydration and support.

The following products are incredibly hydrating, with the ability to lock in moisture from morning to night, and contain active ingredients that calm sensitive skin, such as ceramides and humectants.

Skip to "Overview" section

Skip to "Cleansers" section

> Hydrating cleanser comparison

> Foaming cleanser comparison

Skip to "Moisturizers" section

> Body moisturizer comparison

> Day cream (face) comparison

> Night cream (face) comparison

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About the brands

CeraVe

L’Oreal successfully acquired CeraVe in 2017, a skincare brand founded in 2005 in the United States. Since CeraVe came onto the scene, it has produced a wide range of skincare products, including sun protection, moisturizers, cleansers, and treatment serums. L’Oreal is a French cosmetic company and a leading global brand in sales and skincare research.

CeraVe has earned a reputation for being a dermatologically approved skincare line with over 20 products now recommended by the National Eczema Association. Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe uses three different ceramides in many of its products formulated to be non-irritating and fragrance-free.

Did you know that ceramides are lipids? Lipids help protect the skin barrier and work to retain moisture. A damaged skin barrier is one of the target skin concerns CeraVe products use ceramide technology to restore and hydrate dry, sensitive skin.

Neutrogena

Owned by the parent company Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena is a science-driven skincare line known for its practical, affordable products. In 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff, the brand was previously called Natone and was later named Neutrogena.

Neutrogena is known for its range of skincare and cosmetic products, including cleansing bars, moisturizers, serums, treatments, and toners. The Hydro Boost skincare range has been infused with purified hyaluronic acid, which improves the skin’s moisture barrier to create soft and radiant skin.

CeraVe vs Neutrogena Cleanser

Hydrating cleanser comparison

CeraVe has formulated their Hydrating Facial Cleanser for normal to dry skin. It effectively yet gently removes makeup, dirt, and oil without leaving the skin irritated or tight. This is due to the CeraVe technology that delivers all-day hydration with the addition of ceramides for the skin barrier and hyaluronic acid for moisture retention. The cleanser is accepted by the National Eczema Association and developed by dermatologists for sensitive skin. In addition, the cleanser is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.

Neutrogena brings an innovative cleansing technology with their Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser designed especially for dry skin types. The cleanser activates when mixed with water to increase hydration and leave the skin feeling clean and refreshed. Hyaluronic acid is a critical ingredient in this cleanser. It is also suitable for sensitive skin and is dermatologically tested.

The CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser are formulated for normal-to-dry skin that finds itself in need of extra hydration throughout the day. Hyaluronic acid is the core ingredient in each of these cleansers, as it works to alleviate dry skin conditions by helping the skin hold on to water.

To conclude, although both boast incredible consumer ratings as well as very similar claims and efficacy, we believe the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser just about pulls out in front. The addition of essential ceramides not only helps to restore a weakened moisture barrier, but also helps to maintain a healthy one, thus heavily contributing towards our goals of achieving naturally clear and beautiful skin.

Hydrating Facial Cleanser by CeraVe, hydrating cleanser for normal-to-dry skin.

Hydrating Facial Cleanser by CeraVe

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Hydrating cleanser for normal-to-dry skin.

What makes it special? A cleanser can remove dirt, makeup and other debris, but a hydrating cleanser, like CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, can do all that without disrupting the skin’s natural protective barrier or stripping the skin of its natural moisture. Created with dermatologists, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is a gentle face wash with ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid that work to restore the skin’s natural barrier to help the skin lock in moisture.

Which skin types? For normal to dry, sensitive skin.

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Hydro Boost Gel Face Cleanser by Neutrogena, a hydrating gel cleanser.

Hydro Boost Gel Face Cleanser by Neutrogena

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A hydrating gel cleanser.

What makes it special? This is an innovative cleanser that activates with water to remove impurities whilst providing skin with an essential boost of hydration. By combining Neutrogena cleansing technology, hydrating agents and hyaluronic acid the formula protects the skin barrier, boosts hydration and helps to lock it in. The skin is refreshingly clean and touchably supple every time you cleanse.

Which skin types? All skin types, even sensitive skin.

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Foaming cleanser comparison

If you are searching for a product that works to deeply cleanse the skin of excess oil or makeup, and remove any trace of dirt, then the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser may be for you! This cleanser features three impressive ingredients that won’t disrupt the delicate balance of the skin barrier; ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. A gel-based foaming cleanser is suitable for normal to oily skin and provides a foaming action on the application when mixed with water. Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that calms the skin, reduces redness, treats hyperpigmentation, and regulates oil balance.

The Ultra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena is a hypoallergenic cleanser that won’t damage the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The cleanser gently removes oil, dirt, bacteria, and makeup without the addition of harsh ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. The good news is this cleanser is soap-free. Soap can do more harm than good for sensitive skin, and the ingredients are too harsh for dry skin. The Ultra Gentle Cleanser is clinically proven suitable for sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea.

All in all this is another tight-run race, and our preference merely comes down to a couple of intricacies. The addition of Niacinamide in CeraVe's foaming cleanser is almost enough to sway us on its own, but it is actually the fact that Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Cleanser isn't fragrance-free that seals the deal. CeraVe's Foaming Facial Cleanser is therefore much more likely to be tolerable on your skin, making it the better option overall.

Foaming Facial Cleanser by CeraVe; foaming gel cleanser for normal-to-oily skin

Foaming Facial Cleanser by CeraVe

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Foaming gel cleanser for normal-to-oily skin.

What makes it special? CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser was developed with dermatologists to deeply cleanse, remove excess oil and refresh the skin without over-stripping it or leaving it feeling tight and dry. Featuring three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, this gel-based foaming cleanser is an effective yet non-irritating way to cleanse and care for your normal to oily skin.

Which skin types? For normal-to-oily skin

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Ultra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena, a foaming cleanser that rinses clean without over-drying.

Ultra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A foaming cleanser that rinses clean without over-drying.

What makes it special? Now you can get the best of gentle and clean without any compromise. This gentle yet effective, hypoallergenic cleanser removes excess oil without disturbing skin's natural moisture barrier. Plus, it’s non-stripping, oil-free formula is clinically proven to be gentle on sensitive skin, including acne-prone skin, eczema, rosacea and atopic dermatitis.

Which skin types? The perfect gentle cleanser for all skin types.

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CeraVe vs Neutrogena Moisturizer

Body moisturizer comparison

Treating a damaged skin barrier can be complicated and frustrating. A damaged skin barrier will often lead to itchy, dry, hyper-reactive skin sensitive to harsh ingredients. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream works to target these problematic skin conditions by improving the strength of the skin barrier and offering intense hydration. It is formulated to absorb quickly into the skin with the patented MVE Delivery Technology, which keeps skin hydrated throughout the day. The cream is ideal for both face and body and can be applied as needed morning and night. Furthermore, this cream is fragrance-free!

A best-seller and an award-winning product, the Hydro Boost Water Gel is one of Neutrogena’s holy grail products. It works to hydrate the skin instantly and can be worn as a primer under makeup or on its own for fresh, radiant skin. The gel is formulated for dry skin and is best applied to the face and neck after cleansing. As part of the popular Hydro Boost skincare line, this product is for dry skin, and there is a Hydro Boost Gel for very dry skin. While the dry skin option is alcohol-free, it does contain fragrance in the ingredient list. However, the very dry option is both alcohol and fragrance-free.

Fragrance is not recommended for dry skin, as it may cause irritation and further damage the skin barrier. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrance is the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis.

It is for this reason that, once again, we are erring on the side of CeraVe with their Moisturizing Cream.

Moisturizing Cream by CeraVe, barrier-restoring moisturizing cream.

Moisturizing Cream by CeraVe

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Barrier-restoring moisturizing cream.

What makes it special? CeraVe Moisturizing Cream includes 3 essential ceramides that work together to lock in skin's moisture and help restore your skin’s protective barrier. MVE technology encapsulates ceramides to ensure efficient delivery within the skin’s barrier and slow release over time, supporting your protective skin barrier long after you’ve finish applying.

Which skin types? For normal to dry, sensitive skin.

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Hydro Boost Water Gel by Neutrogena, a best-selling skin replenishing water gel moisturizer.

Hydro Boost Water Gel by Neutrogena

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A best-selling skin replenishing water gel moisturizer.

What makes it special? When your skin’s moisture barrier is weakened, the water content of your skin decreases, leading to drier and more tired-looking skin. Step up your skin’s hydration with Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, designed to intensely hydrate skin and help strengthen the resilience of your skin’s moisture barrier. The fresh water-like texture leaves skin evenly hydrated with a supple, dewy glow that lasts all day long.

Which skin types? For normal to combination skin types.

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Daily moisturizer comparison

Protecting sensitive skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is critical when working with a damaged skin barrier. One primary concern about sunscreen and sun protection is clogged or blocked pores. The CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores or cause acne flare-ups.

The lotion uses a broad-spectrum sunscreen with InVisibleZinc Technology (zinc oxide), ideal for all skin types. In addition to SPF 30, it contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides to maintain daily moisture.

The Neutrogena Oil-Free range includes this lightweight moisturizer with SPF 35. It has been clinically proven adequate sun protection with a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protector free from alcohol and fragrance. This hypoallergenic facial moisturizer is ideal for sensitive skin and can be worn alone or under makeup.

It is important to note that this product contains 6% oxybenzone as an active ingredient. New research has shown that oxybenzone may be an endocrine disrupter. Therefore, the European Commission proposes a concentration limit in sunscreen of 2.2%. In the US, manufacturers can legally add up to 6% oxybenzone to products such as sunscreen. Furthermore, oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions, and exposure to oxybenzone has been linked to an increased risk of endometriosis.

Therefore, continuing the trend of CeraVe's complete hegemony, we prefer CeraVe's AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. That said, we would highly recommend taking a look at Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisturizers without SPF, as they are fantastic moisturizers (without the egregious inclusion of oxybenzone).

AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by CeraVe, a non-comedogenic moisturizer with SPF.

AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by CeraVe

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A non-comedogenic moisturizer with SPF.

What makes it special? CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer is a morning skincare multitasker, featuring 3 essential ceramides that work together to lock in skins moisture and help restore your skin’s protective barrier, hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide, plus their patented MVE technology that encapsulates ceramides to ensure efficient delivery within the skin’s barrier and slow release over time. Offering Broad Spectrum sunscreen, it features InVisibleZinc Technology (microfine zinc oxide) that spreads easily and evenly without leaving a chalky residue.

Which skin types? Ideal for all skin types.

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Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF35, a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer with sun protection.

Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF35 by Neutrogena

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Our rating: ★★★★

Price: $$$$

A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer with SPF 35.

What makes it special? This lightweight, non-greasy lotion is clinically proven to combine long-lasting moisturization with effective sun protection--for softer, smoother, younger-looking skin. This sheer, oil-free moisturizer absorbs quickly, and features a broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that helps prevent premature signs of aging caused by everyday exposure to sun’s damaging rays. Plus it doesn’t contain drying alcohol.

Which skin types? For all skin types. Please note, however, it contains oxybenzone, so we would instead recommend the version without SPF.

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Night cream comparison

Like the AM moisturizer, the PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion works to hydrate dry and sensitive skin. A night cream is the best way to hydrate your skin before you sleep so you can wake up with a radiant, healthy glow. This formula contains the same trio of impressive ingredients featured throughout the CeraVe range, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide.

Next up for comparison is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sleeping Cream. A night cream that has been specifically designed to improve resistance to dehydration during sleep and boost hydration levels. It features hyaluronic acid but also adds botanical trehalose to the ingredient list. When used in skincare, trehalose is a type of sugar that can protect the skin barrier. This cream can be applied to the face and neck in the evening for intense rehydration.

We much prefer Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Sleeping Cream. Not just because of a few concerning customer reviews for CeraVe's (though that certainly helps), but rather because the lightweight texture of Neutrogena's is so much more comfortable for overnight use. Your skin literally drinks it up, meaning that it doesn't just end up all over your pillows in your sleep.

Hydro Boost Sleeping Cream by Neutrogena, a moisturiser for ultra sensitive, intolerant or allergy-prone skin to hydrate and reduce skin sensitivity overnight.

Hydro Boost Sleeping Cream by Neutrogena

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A moisturiser for ultra sensitive, intolerant or allergy-prone skin to hydrate and reduce skin sensitivity overnight.

What makes it special? When your skin's moisture barrier is weakened, the water content of your skin decreases, leading to drier and more tired-looking skin. Wake up to fresh, hydrated skin after just one use with Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sleeping Cream. The formula enriched with hyaluronic acid and botanical trehalose is designed to help reverse the fatigue cycle overnight and strengthen the resilience of your skin's moisture barrier to leave skin intensely rehydrated night after night.

Which skin types? All skin types, especially dry.

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PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, lightweight, oil-free night cream with niacinamide.

PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by CeraVe

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Lightweight, oil-free night cream with niacinamide.

What makes it special? Created with dermatologists, CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer features three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula that can hydrate and calm the skin while helping to restore the skin’s natural barrier. This rich, yet lightweight night cream uses their patented MVE Delivery Technology to deliver a steady stream of much-needed moisture throughout the night.

Which skin types? Suitable for normal to oily skin.

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