Vanicream or CeraVe: which moisturizer is best for dry skin?

Dry skin: Vanicream or CeraVe: which moisturizer is better?

women with dry skin

Choosing a moisturizer for dry skin can be tricky, especially because there are so many options to consider. A lot of it depends on your skin type and the type of cream you are looking for. Two of the most popular daily moisturizers on the market are Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer and the CeraVe moisturizing cream.

It's no coincidence that they have a lot in common. Both are intended for day and night use by all skin types, including sensitive skin, and they are also available at drugstores at an affordable price. However, while both are often recommended by dermatologists, there are differences in their formulas and containers to consider.

The bottom line

Many of our team members, myself included, were unanimous in choosing the Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer over all other options, including the CeraVe Moisturizer. Even though the two are so similar, the formula Vanicream is less likely to irritate the skin, cause rashes or trigger skin eruptions.

Keep reading for my in-depth comparison of Vanicream daily facial moisturizer and CeraVe moisturizer

Do not hesitate to find our articles on skin care 

What we considered when choosing the best cream for dry skin 

woman using Vanicream

Ingredients: Moisture minus sensitivity

Winner: Vanicream Daily Moisturizer

I was recently prescribed tretinoin, a topical prescription cream similar to retinol that quickly removes the top layer of skin to help treat acne. While I was thrilled to see the results, I was not prepared for the skin loss that would occur all over my face. To combat the flaky patches, and my dry skin, I needed a moisturizer that would provide intense hydration without clogging my pores or interacting badly with the hard acne cream.

After obsessively reading ingredient labels, I discovered that Vanicream Daily Moisturizer contains gentle ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and squalane (i.e. ingredients that are less likely to clog pores or cause a reaction). CeraVe moisturizer is also loaded with ceramides and hyaluronic acid and is recommended for dry to very dry skin.

Since it's a little thicker and contains a few more ingredients, I wasn't surprised when it made me break out. To understand why, a board-certified dermatologist, Dhaval Bhanusali, MD explained that while the ingredient profiles are almost the same, CeraVe's formula contains dimethicone, which may give it a smoother application, but can clog pores for some people. "In general, Vanicream is a dermatologist favorite for very sensitive skin because it contains only the essentials without anything that could potentially be irritating," he shares.

Container: A pump is handy

Winner: Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer

Formulas are important, but so are the containers in which they are kept. If a product has a container that can be easily tampered with, the formula can become contaminated and can actually do more harm than good.

That's why Vanicream is the winner here. While it's easier to get your hand in Cerave's large tub, the risk of polluting the formula with dirty fingers is much higher than using Vanicream's squeeze tube. However, Cerave formula is available in some stores with a pump top or in the travel squeeze tube, just be sure to check before you buy.

Consistency: your texture preference will make this call

woman using Vanicream as a dry skin cream

Vanicream's consistency is like a milky lotion that spreads well and evenly. On the other hand, Cerave's moisturizer is thick and rich, requiring a bit more effort to smooth over the skin. There's no right or wrong here, it's just a matter of personal preference. I, for one, have super oily skin and hate the feeling of a thick moisturizer on my face. Others on our team disagree and really prefer thicker formulations.

What our testers say

"The cerave texture is thick and occlusive. It's rich on the skin without being greasy and without leaving a shine.? Alyssa Kaplan, Business Editor

Value: price is comparable

Winner: It's a tie!

While Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer and CeraVe Moisturizer are available at a similar price point and are intended to serve the same purpose, they have different ingredients and may serve different people, making it difficult to judge the value.

While my experience with the Vanicream was better than the CeraVe formula, the CeraVe worked better for others with different skin types. The main distinction between the two is that the Vanicream moisturizer is less comedogenic and may be better suited for oily, acne-prone skin, while the CeraVe moisturizer may be tolerated by drier skin types.

As far as design goes, I prefer the Vanicream because of the squeezable tube, however, CeraVe has updated their packaging in some places to include a pump top to avoid contamination of the large tub it goes into. Either option is great, but you may want to consider your skin type before purchasing.

What you can expect to pay

When shopping for a moisturizer, you can expect to pay anywhere from about 5 $ to well over 400 $. When choosing the right moisturizer for you, you need to consider how often you will use it and what ingredients matter most to you.

As far as drugstore formulas go, Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer and Cerave Moisturizing Lotion are affordably priced and honestly a bargain considering their effectiveness.

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