CeraVe vs. Cetaphil: Which has Cleaner Ingredients?

CeraVe vs. Cetaphil: Which has Cleaner Ingredients?


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CeraVe and Cetaphil are two of the most popular skincare brands. Both are sold online and also at many drug stores and big box chains.

But which brand uses cleaner ingredients? Which is a better value for the money? How do real users compare the two brands? And do we recommend either brand?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we compare the best-selling products from CeraVe and Cetaphil in two categories: face wash and moisturizer. 

We’ll analyze the ingredients in both categories for both brands to give our take on which has cleaner ingredients, and we’ll provide a cost breakdown to compare value.

We’ll also feature customer reviews comparing CeraVe and Cetaphil.

Face Wash Comparison: Which Brand Wins?

Cetaphil face wash ingredients

The ingredients in Cetaphil’s face wash, called Daily Facial Cleanser, are shown above.

This formulation does have some research-backed ingredients.

Panthenol is a type of B-vitamin that was shown in a 2011 clinical trial to improve skin moisture content.

Niacinamide is another type of B-vitamin that was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology to be effective “for use in disorders of epidermal barrier function, for ageing skin, for improving pigmentary disorders and for use on skin prone to acne.”

Unfortunately, it also contains two additive ingredients we consider questionable.

Sodium benzoate is a synthetic preservative, and fragrance may be harmful to human health according to a 2016 medical review.

But how does this formulation compare to CeraVe? We’ll analyze the ingredients in CeraVe’s face wash, called CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, shown below:

CeraVe face wash ingredients

This formulation contains more active ingredients we consider to be effective than Cetaphil’s face wash.

Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP and Ceramide EOP are members of a class of chemical compounds called ceramides, and as we referenced in our DRMTLGY reviews article, ceramides are clinically shown to improve skin moisturization and repair the skin barrier.

Hyaluronic acid is a potent anti-aging ingredient according to a 2012 medical review.

Niacinamide is also included in this product, and we reviewed its benefits in the previous ingredient analysis.

Like the Cetaphil product, there are two additive ingredients in this face wash that we consider questionable from a health perspective.

Methylparaben and propylparaben are part of a class of compounds called parabens, and a 2013 medical review outlined the potential health risks of paraben use. These compounds have been associated with cancer development in clinical studies but a link has not been conclusively proven.

Overall, because both Cetaphil’s face wash and CeraVe’s face wash contain two additive ingredients we consider questionable, but CeraVe contains more effective active ingredients, we consider CeraVe’s face wash the better choice.

But how do real users compare the two brands? We’ll review in the next section.

Real People Compare CeraVe and Cetaphil

A popular YouTube creator named Hyram compared Cetaphil and CeraVe in a video with over 4 million views:

A doctor named Vanita Rattan compared the two brands for skin of color:

Moisturizer Comparison: Which Brand Wins?

Cetaphil moisturizer ingredients

The ingredients in Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer, called Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer, are shown above.

There are a large number of active ingredients in this product we consider effective.

Shea butter can aid skin barrier repair, according to a medical review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Caffeine is clinically shown to protect the skin from UV damage when applied topically.

Sunflower seed oil can improve skin barrier function, as we documented in our Monat reviews article on another skincare brand containing this ingredient.

Sodium hyaluronate, ceramide NP, panthenol and niacinamide were all shown to be effective ingredients in the previous section.

This product only contains one inactive ingredient that we consider questionable.

BHT is a synthetic preservative, and one of the chemical compounds it’s broken down to in the body was described as a “tumor promoter” in a clinical trial published in the Carcinogenesis journal.

But how does this formulation compare to CeraVe? We’ll analyze the ingredients in CeraVe’s moisturizer, called CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion, shown below:

CeraVe moisturizer ingredients

Glycerin can improve skin moisture content by around 15% according to a clinical trial published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

The remaining active ingredients in this formulation that we consider effective are the same as those in CeraVe’s face wash: ceramide NP, ceramide AP, ceramide EOP, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

Phenoxyethanol is the only ingredient in this formulation we consider questionable, as this preservative shown in a 2020 clinical trial to be toxic to human cells.

Overall, because both moisturizers contain one questionable additive ingredient but Cetaphil’s moisturizer contains one more effective active ingredient, we consider Cetaphil’s moisturizer to be the slightly better choice.

But how do these products compare on price? We’ll review in the next section.

Is CeraVe or Cetaphil Better-Priced?

Here are the cheapest Amazon prices for all four of the products reviewed in this article.

Cetaphil Face Wash: $11.97 (link to official Amazon listing)

CeraVe Face Wash: $21.99 (link to official Amazon listing)

Cetaphil Moisturizer: $13.99 (link to official Amazon listing)

CeraVe Moisturizer: $18.37 (link to official Amazon listing)

The face washes are a similar size, so Cetaphil is the better-priced option. While Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer is slightly cheaper overall, it’s significantly smaller, making CeraVe the better value.

CeraVe’s facial moisturizer costs only $0.97 per ounce, while Cetaphil’s costs over $8 per ounce.

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.

It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." 

Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

CeraVe and Cetaphil are both high-quality skincare brands, and all four products we analyzed in this article we consider likely to be effective due to the multitude of research-backed active ingredients.

We recommend CeraVe’s face wash over Cetaphil’s due to more active ingredients we deem likely effective.

We recommend Cetaphil’s moisturizer over CeraVe’s for the same reason.

Most online customer reviews of these brands are highly favorable.