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Vanicream vs CeraVe 2024 (The Definitive Guide)

Vanicream and CeraVe are two brands you’re incredibly likely to see in the beauty section of your local drugstore. But how can you tell which one is best for you?

These two popular brands are known for their consideration for sensitive and easily-irritated skin types. We’ll be comparing them for their moisturizing creams as well as their facial cleansers and moisturizers so you can see which brand would suit your skin needs the best.

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Vanicream vs CeraVe Moisturizer

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream vs Vanicream Moisturizing Cream

If you have sensitive skin or skin that becomes irritated with ease, the Vanicream Moisturizing Cream and the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream are among the best in these arenas. However, there are some differences between them that may make you reach for one cream over the other.

Vanicream is formulated specifically for sensitive skin while CeraVe is formulated to restore dry skin. With Vanicream, the brand puts a focus on its Moisturizing Cream to help soothe away redness, irritation, cracking, or itchy skin. While it does have a focus on dry skin, it targets those with atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and ichthyosis as well as those with dry winter skin.

Vanicream also points out that it doesn’t use botanical extracts or essential oils, it is free of dyes, fragrances, lanolin, parabens, and gluten too. CeraVe also seems to be devoid of the common irritants, though to find that out, you have to read the entire ingredient list. The back of its label also makes some mention of no fragrances, but as for things like lanolin, reading the label was the only way I was able to compare that both of these brands seem to take care in not including common irritants and harmful ingredients.

However, Vanicream is the one that has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association. While CeraVe doesn’t have the same accolades, it was developed with dermatologists, so you’ll still have that peace of mind when using it.

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To counter that point though, CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream does offer you something that Vanicream does not include, and that is the addition of ceramides. I mean, it’s the whole basis of the brand name with the “cera” in there. The thing about ceramides is they help restore and support the skin’s natural barrier.

With skin barriers, having them functioning optimally is said to reduce redness, irritation, and other annoying skin troubles. When the skin barrier is compromised, it leads to all sorts of unsightly things from the previously-mentioned skin conditions of eczema, psoriasis, and the like to things like acne as well. Bolstering the health of that outer layer may be what your skin needs to look its best.

CeraVe has three different ceramides in an encapsulated format which are designed to release throughout the day and night to keep your skin healthy, moisturized, and soothed. The ceramides aid in repairing that outer layer with every use.

Find the best CeraVe moisturizer prices on Amazon

Both brands can be used from head to toe for moisturizing dry and sensitive skin that is prone to irritations. With Vanicream though, it is labeled as a kid-friendly product. So if this sensitive skin and skin conditions runs in your family, it’s good to know you can all slather it on safely.

Incidentally, both brands promote a non-greasy texture that absorbs with ease. So if that’s your biggest concern, either one will work great for you. Each brand is big on not clogging pores either. That’s ideal for keeping acne concerns at bay.

Many people are surprised to find that dry skin can be the perfect condition for acne to show up. What they don’t realize is that when skin becomes too dry, it overcompensates with that natural moisturizing oil, sebum, and makes way too much of the stuff. The dry skin flakes off and gets caught up in the oil along with all the other gunk from the day – your makeup, dirt, and pollution – and then it gets stuck in your pores where breakouts brew to the surface.

When it comes down to it, both Vanicream and CeraVe offer excellent moisturizing creams that are versatile enough to use from head to toe. They are both targeted for dry skin with a lean toward those that have skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and others. And they both offer a non-greasy application that is noncomedogenic.

However, since CeraVe offers the addition of ceramides which can help improve your skin’s outer barrier strength, we’re leaning a little harder toward the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. It goes beyond just quenching thirsty skin to delivering that extra something that your skin needs to repair itself and stay healthy. If you simply need some assistance with keeping your skin from going too dry though, Vanicream is a good one for you.

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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Moisturizing Cream by Vanicream, a thick, smooth moisturizing cream.

Moisturizing Cream by Vanicream

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A thick, smooth moisturizing cream.

What makes it special? Helps restore and maintain a normal moisture level. Soothes red, irritated, cracking or itchy skin. Ideal moisturizing formula for dry skin associated with atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, ichthyosis, and winter itch.

Which skin types? For dry to very dry skin types.

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Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer vs CeraVe Facial Moisturizer

While their best-selling moisturizing creams are primarily intended for the body, Vanicream and CeraVe also offer a couple of excellent moisturizers for the face. Let's dive straight into the comparison.

First and foremost, it's worth noting that while CeraVe's moisturizing lotions are explicitly labelled for AM and PM use, Vanicream's Daily Facial Moisturizer is suitable for use in both the morning and evening as a standalone option. OR you could mimic CeraVe by using the new Vanicream Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 in the morning, and the Daily Facial Moisturizer in the evening.

Beginning with the day creams, both contain essential ceramides to help restore and maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier. They're both also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, although only CeraVe's AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion can boast to be oil-free since Vanicream's Facial Moisturizer with SPF contains moisturizing Squalane. The upshot of this is that CeraVe's lotion feels super lightweight, whereas Vanicream's has a noticeably thicker consistency.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that Vanicream's contains only mineral sunscreen ingredients (Zinc Oxide), whereas CeraVe's contains a mix of chemical *and* mineral sunscreen ingredients, thus minimizing the thickness and white cast.

Vanicream's day cream is arguably more suitable than CeraVe for those with sensitive skin (since chemical sunscreens convert UV rays into sensitizing heat), whereas CeraVe's AM lotion is better for those with normal to oily skin types (and those of us that *hate* sunscreens that cause ghastly white casts).

Moving onto their night creams (let's just pretend that's what Vanicream's Daily Facial Moisturizer is for the sake of comparison), you'll notice that once again, both contain Ceramides. Vanicream's moisturizer contains 5 key ceramides, CeraVe's PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion contains 3. They both also contain hydrating Hyaluronic Acid.

Just as with the day cream comparison, they're both free from fragrance and non-comedogenic, although Vanicream's again can't boast to be oil-free due to the inclusion of Squalane. CeraVe's is oil-free.

The Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer is more akin to a regular night cream given its richer texture, and is an excellent choice for those with dry, sensitive skin. The CeraVe PM lotion's lighter, oil-free formula instead makes it more suitable for those with normal-to-oily skin types.

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

AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by CeraVe

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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? For normal to oily skin.

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PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion by CeraVe, 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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Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 by Vanicream, mineral sunscreen with ceramides.

Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 by Vanicream

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Mineral sunscreen with ceramides.

What makes it special? NEW! Lightweight, mineral sunscreen face moisturizer formulated with ceramides and non-nano zinc oxide to provide broad spectrum SPF 30 protection from both UVA/UVB rays. If used as directed with other sun protection measures, it decreases the risk of harmful skin conditions and early skin aging caused by the sun. Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).

Which skin types? For all skin types.

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Daily Facial Moisturizer by Vanicream, hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Daily Facial Moisturizer by Vanicream

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

What makes it special? A rich, but lightweight lotion that provides effective moisturization for day or night. It is formulated with hyaluronic acid and 5 key ceramides which help to hydrate and retain the skin’s moisture. It leaves the skin feeling soft and deeply moisturized while still being lightweight and suitable to wear under makeup.

Which skin types? For sensitive skin.

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Vanicream vs CeraVe Cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser vs CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Cleansing your skin is the most crucial step in your skincare routine. In the morning, it removes all the debris and dead skin cells that your body replenished. And by night, it serves to remove your makeup and whatever else your face picked up from the day.

Let’s take a look at Vanicream and CeraVe’s options for facial cleansers.

Both cleansers are popular in beauty stores across the country. They are also designed for a gentle yet effective cleanse. And both are noncomedogenic and can help remove makeup and excess oils without leaving skin with a dried out feeling. So, we’re off to a good start!

With Vanicream's Gentle Facial Cleanser, it’s important to note that the formula is a soap-free creation. The brand claims that even the most delicate and sensitive skin types can use it for it has no harsh cleansing agents and is pH balanced. And that’s a big one, the pH balancing, for that’s what keeps your skin’s barrier layer harmonious and happy. Like the moisturizer I mentioned above, this cleanser also has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.

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So, how does this dermatologist-tested formula stack up against CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser? CeraVe includes hyaluronic acid and those three encapsulated ceramides, just like it does for the moisturizer. This is so it can start the process of repairing your skin’s barrier function from the first step in your skincare regimen. That’s what sets it a step above the Vanicream, in our opinion.

Find the best CeraVe cleanser prices on Amazon

CeraVe is accepted by the National Eczema Association as well. Developed with dermatologists, it’s a gentle yet effective cleanser that infuses skin with just a little bit more than Vanicream’s cleanser. It only makes sense that following it with the moisturizer of the same brand will add more ceramide repairing power to help bolster the skin’s barrier to see better skin over time.

With these two great cleansers, it really is all about what you prefer. Though with the addition of ceramides in CeraVe, you’re getting something that helps your skin repair itself with continued use. Vanicream will certainly help kick off your cleansing routine in the right way without dryness, but there are no ceramides to restore your skin.

However, Vanicream is quite vocal about the things it doesn’t include, and while CeraVe seems to echo that sentiment, only Vanicream has all those things listed with ease. You’ll have to read through CeraVe’s ingredients as I did to confirm there are no known irritants.

Everything said and done, we prefer CeraVe's Hydrating Facial Cleanser.

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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Gentle Facial Cleanser by Vanicream, a dermatologist-tested, soapless cleanser.

Gentle Facial Cleanser by Vanicream

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A dermatologist-tested, soapless cleanser.

What makes it special? Vanicream's mildest cleanser specifically formulated for daily facial use helps remove makeup and excess skin oils without drying your skin, leaving your skin feeling clean and soft.

Which skin types? Ideal for dry skin.

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Vanicream vs CeraVe Conclusion

If you are looking to improve skin rather than just soothe skin, CeraVe may just come out on top here. Still, both brands are gentle enough to use on your skin, especially when that dryness is related to a specific skin condition or your skin never fully seems quenched enough.

To round off our review, here are our recommendations for the alternative ranges that CeraVe and Vanicream offer.

Other Vanicream Ranges

For the face:
Try the Facial Moisturizer

For body cleansing:
Try the Gentle Body Wash

For hair:
Try Free & Clear

Other CeraVe Ranges

For a day cream:
Try the AM Moisturizer

For a night cream:
Try the PM Moisturizer

For post-acne marks:
Try the Resurfacing Retinol

Work in progress

You have been reading a post that we are constantly updating. Be sure to bookmark this page, subscribe, and come back later to see additions to the definitive Vanicream vs CeraVe guide!

This article was originally published on February 3rd 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on January 26th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.

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