Is CeraVe better than Cetaphil?
But on the other hand, is Cetaphil better than CeraVe?
Also, irritatingly, yes.
How do we come to such a mind-boggling enigmatic conclusion?
That’s a little complicated, and it’s based on what each of them is, and what each of them does.
So, for the complete newcomers – what are CeraVe and Cetaphil?
They’re dermatologist-recommended skincare brands. They look similar, they even sound vaguely similar, and they do almost infuriatingly similar things.
So how can they both be better than one another?
That comes down to the fact that there are differences in how they’re made, and the fact that there are differences in the people who want to use them.
For some people, CeraVe will always be better than Cetaphil – and we’re not talking about value judgments here, it will objectively, practically, provably be better for them, in that it will give them better results.
And, annoyingly, this is also equally true of Cetaphil.
Let’s take a look at the similarities between the two brands – and the important points of difference which lead to the annoying complexity of the answer.
Cetaphil was first sold as a gentle skin cleanser by a pharmacist in Texas as far back as 1947. That first product is still available today as the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, with the original ‘recipe’ still intact.
CeraVe on the other hand is a relative newcomer to the skincare market, being founded in 2005 by a group of researchers and dermatologists.
That means it brings 75 years more development in the understanding of skin and its life cycle to the party.
At present, it’s the only skincare brand to offer a full line of products that all contain three essential ceramides that your skin needs to work to its best advantage.
CeraVe has also continued developing since it was launched in 2005, adding Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE) technology in its products.
What does that do? It allows for time-release of the ceramides, so you move away from a model where the skincare only does you good at the moment of application, and towards a model where it helps you for hours after you’ve applied it.
These are two very different approaches to skincare from two different companies – but both are recommended by skincare experts and deemed to help with a range of skin conditions, including the twin hells that are acne and eczema.
So seriously, which is better?
The headline, such as there is one, is that if you have sensitive skin, Cetaphil is probably your better friend of the two, because it’s less chemically complex, less harsh, and more calming to the sensitivity.
If your skin is more or less anything other than sensitive, CeraVe will usually win in a knock-down drag-out because of its modern chemical engineering and that mystic sorcery that is Multivesicular Emulsion.
We’ve mentioned that CeraVe is the more modern of the two ranges, and they both put out products which are fragrance-free and Ph-balanced for a range of skin types, including dry skin, sensitive skin etc.
The approach of each brand to dealing with these various skin types is significantly different, with slight but important differences in the results across the product ranges.
For very dry or even dehydrated skin, you’ll probably get your best results with the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, which is brimming with modern moisturizing and hydrating elements like Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin.
You also get the combination of Ceramides 1, 3 and 6-II in all the products in the CeraVe range – which are what unlock the slow-release potential of the moisturizing and hydrating ingredients.
CeraVe has a proven track record when it comes to soothing extremely dry skin – so much so that it’s recommended by the National Eczema Association.
That’s a pretty hefty recommendation in the skincare world. Go looking for such science in a Cetaphil product and you’ll come back empty-handed, and with your skin still craving moisture.
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, and you’re about to commit to CeraVe for all your dry skincare needs, you learn that if you have dry and particularly sensitive skin, you’re probably at least a little better off going with the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser over the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser?
Maddeningly, because the ingredients in the Cetaphil cleanser are more natural, and there are fewer of them.
The upshot of which is that there’s less complicated chemistry in the Cetaphil product that might cause a flare-up of your sensitive skin.
The Cetaphil cleanser also contains Propylene Glycol, which aids your skin’s hydration, not by complex Ceramide chemistry, but by forming a simple protective film on your skin that helps to keep in moisture.
What about if you have oily skin, and the endless joy that is acne?
Both brands put about a product to tackle the challenges of your skin type – CeraVe has a Foaming Cleanser, while Cetaphil with its more specific Oily Skin Cleanser.
Again, there’s only a little difference between the older brand’s offering and the super-science of the CeraVe cleanser, but on balance, the CeraVe wins out because as well as the whole time-release Ceramindes, Hyaluronic Acid thing, it comes with Niacinamide added.
What does Niacinamide do? It helps control oil production. Less oil production, less likelihood of pore-clogging. Result?
Technically, more scientifically effective against acne. The CeraVe product also comes with an anti-inflammatory agent to calm the redness and irritation of acne – which you won’t find in the Cetaphil cleanser.
As with dry skin though, if you have both oily and sensitive skin, Cetaphil takes the honors, because the ingredients in it are gentler than those in the CeraVe version.
You’re probably getting the idea by now, aren’t you?
Sensitive skin? Go Cetaphil. It will soothe, it will calm, it will do whatever else you need too.
And the likelihood that it will irritate your skin is smaller because its ingredients list is smaller and more recognizable as Things In The World, which your skin may appreciate.
Anything else? Probably go CeraVe as your first option, because of all that lovely complex chemistry dedicated to making your skin hydrated, or to control its oil production, or to do just about anything you want it to do – with a slow release over time.
Ideally, before you embark on a regime with either brand, get your skin tested by a reputable dermatologist.
It might seem like a lot of bother, but it will stop you playing guessing games with your skin for years to come.
From nails to skin and hair to makeup and even waxing and eye care, Steph loves it all. A firm believer in personal expression and style she’s rarely ready on time herself but loves helping others look their best.