Vanicream vs. CeraVe: Which Moisturizing Cream Is Better for Dry Skin?

We tested both on dry, eczema-prone skin

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Vanicream vs. Cerave

Verywell Health / Zack Angeline

When it comes to living with and treating dry skin, finding a good moisturizer can make all the difference. Take a quick walk down the skin care aisle (or pull up a quick Google search) and two brands have likely caught your eye: Vanicream and CeraVe. Both make a moisturizing cream that’s formulated without fragrance and packaged in a blue-and-white tub. So which one is better for dry skin and are they actually all that different from each other? 

To find out, I put both products to the test on my dry, eczema-prone skin. In fact, I tested them both for two weeks as both a daily moisturizer and on my moderate to severe eczema flares. Since they’re pretty comparable to one another in price and packaging, I primarily evaluated their performance for texture and efficacy. I also looked closely at their labels and evaluated them for their ingredients—looking at what they include and what they don’t include.

The Main Takeaways

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
  • $14 for 16 ounces

  • Non-comedogenic and free of fragrance, parabens, and dyes

  • Active ingredients include ceramides and petrolatum

  • Rich and velvety texture that is thicker than CeraVe, but takes longer to absorb fully

  • Helped treat my mild to moderate eczema

  • Tub container with pump is hygienic and allows you to use all of the product

  • National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  • $18 for 19 ounces

  • Non-comedogenic and free of fragrance, parabens, and dyes

  • Active ingredients include hyaluronic acid and ceramides

  • Creamy texture that isn’t as thick as Vanicream, but absorbs quickly

  • Instantly hydrated my eczema, but Vanicream provided more relief

  • Tub container can sometimes be found with a pump applicator

  • National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance

vanicream and cerave on a bathroom vanity
Verywell Health / Ashleigh Morley.

Vanicream vs CeraVe Results

Winner: Vanicream—but CeraVe is a close second!

There’s no denying these two moisturizers are incredibly similar, but if you have dry skin Vanicream has the edge. Even though it takes a little bit longer to fully absorb, the rich cream feels downright luxurious and provides long-lasting hydration. It was even effective on some mild to moderate eczema flares. CeraVe, meanwhile, has a thicker-than-most creamy texture that brought an immediate boost of hydration wherever I applied it, but it just didn’t provide the same kind of relief on my eczema flares. 

Keep reading for our in-depth comparison of Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream versus CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin

4.9

Price at time of publication: $14

Who It’s For: People with really dry skin, who live in especially cold and dry climates, or who have mild to moderate eczema. Vanicream felt incredibly rich and creamy, though it did take a bit longer to fully absorb than the CeraVe lotion. It might be best used in winter months when your skin is extra parched. 

Active Ingredients: Petrolatum, sorbitol, cetearyl alcohol, propylene glycol, ceteareth-20, simethicone, glyceryl stearate, PEG-30 stearate | Scent: Fragrance-free | Usage: Apply as needed to the face, hands, feet, and body

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

4.8
cerave-moisturizing-cream

Amazon

Price at time of publication: $18

Who It’s For: If you have mild dry skin or just want a solid all-around daily body moisturizer, CeraVe is for you. The cream is perfect for providing hydration through every season; it’s neither too heavy for summer nor too light for winter. It’s just right for using every day. It just might not be enough for severe dry skin or eczema flares. 

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop | Scent: Fragrance-free | Usage: Can be used as often as needed or as recommended by doctor

Texture

WInner: It’s a tie! 

Whether you think Vanicream or CeraVe has a better texture is really a matter of personal opinion. If you prefer light and creamy moisturizers, then you’ll want to stock up on CeraVe. It has a slightly more delicate texture that’s fast absorbing and is easy to apply through any season. Vanicream, on the other hand, has a richer, more luxurious texture. That may sound grand, but it’s not for everyone. It takes a bit longer to melt down and needs to be massaged into your skin more to fully absorb. Because of this, it can feel heavier on your skin. By contrast, the CeraVe cream is much lighter and glides really easily over your skin. 

I honestly really liked both textures for different reasons. I’ll probably reach for Vanicream more during the winter or when I have dry patches on my elbows or the heels of my feet. And CeraVe will still have a spot in my routine—most likely during warmer months and to moisturize after a shower. 

vanicream and cerave moisturizing cream swatches on skin
At a glance, Vanicream (left) and CeraVe (right) look to have similar consistency and textures. Verywell Health / Ashleigh Morley.

Efficacy

Winner: Vanicream

Both the Vanicream and CeraVe moisturizers provided quick, noticeable hydration, but Vanicream’s more occlusive formula is the winner here. Vanicream’s thicker moisturizing cream may take a bit more work and time to get into your skin and fully absorb, but that is also probably key to how it effectively relieved my dry skin. Not only did my skin feel nourished as I applied this cream (typically at night), but my skin still felt soft and hydrated in the morning. 

The CeraVe cream did an excellent job at providing immediate hydration—my parched skin found instant relief. And yes, my skin still felt pretty great in the morning, but Vanicream left my skin ever so slightly more moisturized to the touch even eight hours later. 

And when it came to relieving my eczema, there wasn’t much of a contest. While CeraVe was great at quenching my dry, flaky eczema flared skin, it was the Vanicream that actually helped treat and reduce the scales on a mild flare. CeraVe felt like downing a glass of water when you’re dehydrated and have been outside for too long, but Vanicream felt like getting your eight glasses of water. 

Ingredients

Winner: Vanicream

Vanicream’s entire line of products was created for people with sensitive skin. To that end, this moisturizer is free of fragrance, parabens, dyes, lanolin, formaldehyde, botanical extracts, and gluten, Plus, it’s non-comedogenic. In terms of active ingredients, Vanicream boasts ceramides and petrolatum. In fact, petrolatum—or petroleum jelly—is the second ingredient, which is most likely why this moisturizer is so much thicker than CeraVe’s, which lists petrolatum as its seventh ingredient (meaning it’s present, but likely in lower quantities since ingredients are typically listed based on their prominence in the product). 

Another reason to like Vanicream’s ingredient list? It’s short and sweet, with just ten total ingredients. Fewer ingredients typically means there’s less chance for irritants to enter the equation, which is a good thing for people with dry and sensitive skin. 

CeraVe is still a stellar product when you take a close look at the label. Like Vanicream it’s free of fragrance, parabens, and dyes, and is non-comedogenic (so it won’t clog pores). But the brand has been known to include lanolin and some other ingredients in its products that Vanicream leaves out. But the fact that it’s free of fragrances, parabens, and dyes is a major boon to those with sensitive and dry skin.

As the name might have tipped you off, CeraVe does include ceramides. In fact, the brand includes three essential ceramides in all of its products. This moisturizing cream also includes hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps your skin retain moisture. In terms of total ingredients, CeraVe has 24—still far fewer than many other moisturizers available on the market. 

What is the difference between CeraVe and Vanicream?

The biggest difference between CeraVe and Vanicream is the ingredients and the texture. Vanicream has fewer ingredients (and thus, fewer potential irritants), and is designed for people with sensitive skin. As a result of petrolatum being the second ingredient on its label, Vanicream has a thicker texture that’s closer to an ointment than CeraVe’s, which has a more delicate and creamy texture that absorbs faster.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Ashleigh Morley is the Commerce Director for Verywell Health at Dotdash Meredith. She has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing health and wellness content. Throughout her entire life, she has suffered from dry skin and mild to moderate eczema that flares in colder, drier months. She tested both Vanicream and CeraVe moisturizing creams for this story. Before this side-by-side test, she was using CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream daily, but now she’s going to keep both in rotation.