I vividly remember one night in middle school furiously researching drugstore skincare products the day before my mom was set to take me to the grocery store with her and would let me pick out a cleanser to address the few pimples I was starting to get on my chin. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night watching skincare routine videos on YouTube, making a long list of all the products I wanted. Among this list was St. Ives Apricot Scrub, Clean & Clear spot treatment, Neutrogena cleanser, and of course, the CeraVe moisturizer.
So when I went to the store and my mom tried to argue that I only needed one product, it has stuck in my brain ever since. I wonder if she knew then that I would go on to critique her skincare routine and try new products as a career, but I digress. When I started seeing CeraVe blow up on TikTok as this dermatologist-approved brand that’s affordable but as good as luxury, I thought back to that fateful day when I bought one of their products for the first time, not knowing it would flood my feed even more over a decade later.
Not only is CeraVe is a mainstay in dermatologists’ routines and TikTok’s elite, but it’s also ever-prevalent at The Everygirl HQ. I enlisted our team to share their favorite (and not-so-favorite) CeraVe products so you know what’s worth your money.
About the Brand
You’d be hard-pressed to consult a dermatologist for 20 minutes without them bringing up CeraVe, a dermatologist-developed brand founded in 2005 that focuses on a simple routine that strengthens the skin’s barrier. Every product contains three essential ceramides (where the brand got its namesake): lipids naturally found in the upper layer of skin that prevents transepidermal water loss and protects and moisturizes the skin’s barrier. Rounding out the ingredient lists is often other hydrating agents like hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide.
One thing you’ll never find in CeraVe’s products is fragrance, which is common in many products at the drugstore.
Although the products don’t have the aesthetic appeal of other Internet favorites like Glossier and Tatcha, CeraVe’s charm lies in its efficacy. The simple packaging is indicative of its simple ingredients, but together, it’s a combination that works. People are ditching 10-step routines with tons of actives in favor of skinimalism, and CeraVe is often people’s first step. If you walk through a skincare aisle at CVS right now, you’ll find the CeraVe section practically barren thanks to TikTok’s influence.
"I live and breathe Bioderma, so I had major doubts this would hold a candle to my classic micellar water. I've tried the other dupes in the past and have always left disappointed. But the hype was real with this one. I used it with a reusable cotton round, and it took off all my eye makeup—even waterproof mascara. I'm a believer."
—Beth Gillette, Beauty Content Manager
“I try to stick to gentle products when it comes to cleansers because I've found that I get the best results when I'm using something that isn't too harsh. I've tried a lot of different types of cleansers throughout my skincare journey, and this one is definitely my favorite. I love that it's hydrating, because although I generally have combination skin, it dries out so quickly in the fall and winter. I use this cleanser nightly, and it helps keep my skin looking its best.”
—Jessica Welsh, Associate Editor
"When I finally admitted to myself that my skin wasn't dry like all my friends and required a bit more to cleanse, I bought this first. For starters, it has that lovely foam consistency everyone wants when they wash their face that makes you just feel clean. Unlike other oily cleansers, I didn't feel dry or tight after I used it, which was a major plus. For my acne-prone skin, it wasn't enough to keep clogged pores at bay, but for someone with less gunk in their pores, this is a dream."
"After my excursion with the Foaming Cleanser, my dermatologist recommended a cleanser with salicylic acid to take care of my pores and prevent acne. Of course, the one she recommended was expensive as hell, so I grabbed this and hoped it would do the job. At first use, I loved the gel texture and how it felt on my skin. After washing, my skin felt totally balanced: not dry, not oily. I thought I'd found love. Sadly, I had a pretty nasty reaction and my skin broke out in little bumps all over my face, so I had to stop using this. If your skin isn't reactive and doesn't break out from this, I'm jealous."
"Dr. Caroline Chang, a board-certified dermatologist in Rhode Island, swears by this cleanser for her acne-prone clients, so I immediately wanted to pick it up to try for this review. I trekked to three different stores in the rain, and it was sold out everywhere. All this did was make me want it even more. When I finally got my hands on it, I was elated that the pedestal I put this product on was well deserved. I typically find benzoyl peroxide cleansers to be really harsh and drying, but this contains those ceramides CeraVe is known for as well as hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated while clearing out pores. I use tretinoin at night, so I only use this in the morning, and I’ve never experienced redness or irritation—just a clear, clean complexion."
"I go through a period once every winter and summer where my allergies completely attack my face and I'm covered with hives and dry patches, and in that time, I look for a really good moisturizing cleanser that won't break me out. Last summer, I tried this for the first time; it seemed like my perfect hybrid. It comes out like a cream cleanser and foams up as you rub it between your hands, making this a dream for dry skin that never feels clean with milky cleansers. Of all the CeraVe cleansers, this is, without a doubt, the best one."
"I currently swear by an eye cream on the expensive side, but as a lifelong student of testing skincare, I wanted to get a feel for some drugstore options too (I’ll try anything in the name of sharing recommendations). After seeing tons of rave reviews for this one, I put it to the test, and it’s OK. I discovered that I like a really thick, emollient eye cream that feels special compared to my moisturizer, and this is very lightweight. If you want an eye cream for under makeup that won’t make it crease or slide off during the day, this creates a great canvas for concealer. But for nighttime use, I’ll stick with something a bit thicker."
I have extraordinarily dry skin, and very few things make it feel hydrated. I've never seen a huge help from hyaluronic acid—until I found this.
When I say this has changed my skin, I mean it. Rather than a typical sticky liquid dropper, this one is a cream that comes out of a pump, and my skin immediately soaks it up. After applying this morning and night for a few months, my skin has done a complete 180 in terms of dryness and looks visibly more plump and hydrated every day. I have never been more confident in my skin than I am right now, and I owe so much of it to this. I ran out of it last week and paid to have it overnighted to me because I can tell my skin looks more lackluster as soon as I stop using it.
—Madeline Galassi, Fashion Content Manager
"I should start by saying that I'm not necessarily a vitamin C connoisseur. I like the one from Maelove, and that's about it. But because I'm selfless, I tested this one to see if it would be a good drugstore alternative. The texture is lightweight and glowy on the skin, and I loved how it made my skin look when I applied it in the morning, but that's where the benefits stopped. I didn't notice much of a difference in my overall skin's appearance using this. If you're looking for a product to make your skin look flawless before makeup application, you will absolutely find it with this, but as far as the brightening and smoothing benefits, I'm not sure."
"Retinol is known to disrupt your skin's barrier, so CeraVe stuck to its promises and made one that boosts hydration and exfoliates at the same time. It's a great starter retinol for someone who is afraid of the intense, drying side effects of a traditional retinol product. I loved the lightweight texture—it feels hydrating on the skin, unlike other retinols I've tried that just make me feel like a desert from the start."
"With my face being super sensitive to products, it can be frustrating to find the perfect products without spending hundreds of dollars. With winter right around the corner, I finally found a true god-sent that just keeps my skin moisturized all night long while also feeling very refreshed in the morning. At first, I didn't love the thickness of the cream, but over time, I've found a combo that I love: Mixing this moisturizer with a bit of rose-hip oil is my absolute go-to, and I promise as soon as you try it, you won't ever look back."
—Alex Pizarro, Editorial Assistant
“This has been my daily moisturizer for over a year now. I love how affordable it is, and it really does a better job than more expensive moisturizers that I've tried. I use it on my face every morning, but I love that I can also use it on my hands when my skin is particularly dry.”
—Jessica Welsh, Associate Editor
"Back when slugging was all the rage on TikTok, I picked this up because it was touted as a better, more skincare-friendly version of Vaseline, and it’s exactly that. Petrolatum is the main ingredient, but unlike Vaseline, it’s also filled with occlusive, skin-loving ingredients like mineral oil, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, panthenol, and paraffin. If you already have Vaseline in your arsenal, I’m not sure you need this, but when you run out, never buy that giant tub again and go for this.
When I was experiencing skin barrier damage last winter, I used this all over my face for a few days before bed, and it healed my skin in a matter of days. Now, I mostly use it on the body (it’s amazing for elbows, heels, and knees), and I especially love it as a spot treatment on healing pimples."
"On the days I use my NuFACE, I need an oil-free moisturizer that won't disrupt the microcurrent, and this seemed like a good drugstore option. Containing CeraVe's three core ingredients (ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide), it's a lightweight, hydrating lotion that will smooth your skin and act as a good base for makeup.
But please, I beg of you, use a dedicated sunscreen—this does not suffice."
"I could see this being great for someone with a really oily skin type that gawks at the thought of using a moisturizer on their already overly moisturized skin because it's so lightweight. For me, I like something thick and occlusive before bed, so this just wasn't enough for me. But as an AM moisturizer, this is pretty solid. It goes well under makeup and feels like I'm wearing nothing on my face."
"I’m always hesitant about trying new skincare products because of my sensitive skin, but after reviewers kept raving about this product, I knew I just had to try it. I’m so glad I did because now I’m absolutely obsessed with this nighttime moisturizer. Since using the product, I’ve noticed that I wake up with smoother and more hydrated skin. If you want a moisturizer that isn’t too harsh on your skin but still will leave your skin feeling smoother than ever, I would definitely recommend including this product in your nightly skincare routine."
—Caitlyn Somers, Editorial Intern
“I have keratosis pilaris on my arms, and it gets especially bad in the colder months. Although no product can completely cure KP, this is one of the very few I've found that truly makes a difference. It helps smooth my skin in affected areas and makes it much less irritated, dry, and itchy.”
—Jessica Welsh, Associate Editor
"I've been flirting with quite a few mineral sunscreens the last few months, and tinted varieties are life-changing on days I want to wear as minimal makeup as possible but still feel put together. On my medium skin tone, this blends out to match my skin, but I can't imagine it would do the same on someone any lighter or deeper than me. I would love to see CeraVe expand the range so everyone can experience this because it's one of the few mineral sunscreens I've tried that leaves a glowy, radiant finish, and I could see so many people falling in love with it."
"I wanted this to be so good—I really did. This mineral sunscreen seemed like it would be a dream for acne-prone, sensitive skin on the days you need lots of sun protection (you know, when someone finally invites you on a boat). But it is a white paste that never blends in. But with that, it staves off sunburns like nothing else, so if you're OK looking ghostly to avoid sun damage, go for it."
CeraVe might not come in a golden jar, but it works just as well. There’s something for every single skin type in this line, whether you’re oily and acne-prone or dry and sensitive. I would stick with the cleansers and moisturizers and skip the treatments—except the beloved hyaluronic acid serum. That’s a keeper.