The Independent Pharmacy

CeraVe Lotion vs. Cream | What's The Difference

Daniel Hurley
Daniel HurleyMPharm IPPharmacist Independent Prescriber

Reviewed on 2 Apr 2024

CeraVe is one of the most popular and dermatologist-recommended skincare lines around. However, they offer both a lotion and cream moisturiser, which can understandably lead to some confusion. What it essentially comes down to is what you need from your moisturiser and what skin type you have. Typically, CeraVe Moisturising Lotion is best for normal to oily skin, and CeraVe Moisturising Cream is best for dry skin.

Locking in the ideal moisturiser is absolutely crucial for maintaining your skin’s natural defences and keeping that healthy glow. Using the wrong product can throw everything out of whack - hello, clogged pores, extra oil slicks, or that tight, flaky feeling. Not ideal. That’s why getting clarity on CeraVe’s lotion vs cream offerings is so important.

We’re going to do a deep dive into the distinctions between these two cult-favourite moisturisers. Every detail will be covered - their textures, beneficial ingredients, best uses based on your skin type, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • CeraVe’s Moisturising Lotion provides lightweight, breathable hydration, ideal for normal to oily skin, while their Moisturising Cream formula offers richer, more intense moisture for dry skin types.
  • The lotion has a lightweight, milky texture that absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue, making it perfect for layering under makeup and sunscreen.
  • The thicker, buttery cream creates an occlusive barrier to deeply nourish dehydrated skin and lock in intense moisture with its high concentration of ceramides and emollients.
  • Don’t get too hung up on labels - customise your CeraVe routine by using the lotion on oily areas and the cream on dry patches to best address your skin’s varying needs.

CeraVe Lotion Overview

First up, let’s talk about the lightweight, go-to hydrator that is CeraVe’s popular daily moisturising lotion. You know those lotions that just seem to sit on top of your skin instead of actually sinking in? This isn’t one of those. The non-greasy, milky formula was designed to provide a soft, smooth canvas for the rest of your skincare routine.

But what exactly makes this lotion so great? It all starts with the ingredients. CeraVe is known for using a caring blend of three essential ceramides to help restore and maintain your skin’s protective natural barrier. These lipid molecules help lock in essential moisture and prevent that uncomfortable tightness, as well as things like itchy skin.

The lotion is also formulated with hyaluronic acid, a skincare superstar. This helps to deeply hydrate and plump your skin. No more dehydration worries!

And let’s not forget MVE technology, CeraVe’s signature controlled release delivery system. This allows those beneficial ingredients to keep working their magic for up to 24 hours.

With such a gentle, fragrance-free formula, CeraVe’s daily moisturising lotion is ideal for normal to oily skin types. It absorbs quickly and provides that “just enough” level of lightweight hydration. No heaviness or greasy residue is left behind.

Whether your main concerns are retaining moisture, strengthening your skin barrier, or just wanting a smooth, fresh face for makeup, this cult-classic lotion has your back. It’s the perfect addition to any AM and PM skincare lineup.

CeraVe Cream Overview

On the richer side of CeraVe’s iconic moisturising offerings, we have their ultra-nourishing cream formula. If the lotion was made for that “just enough” hydration, then this cream is ideal when you need to go above and beyond for dry, parched skin.

Like the lotion, this cream is powered by CeraVe’s signature three essential ceramides to help restore and maintain your skin’s natural protective barrier. But it also contains a higher concentration of hydrating ingredients to really quench thirsty complexions.

The CeraVe Moisturising Cream’s thicker, dense texture melts right into your skin without feeling heavy or greasy. Despite the richer consistency, it’s still non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog up your pores.

For those with dry, rough patches or cracked, irritated zones, this ultra-hydrating CeraVe cream can be a skin-saver. The fragrance-free, non-irritating formula makes it ideal for sensitive or eczema-prone complexions, too.

Whether you’re combating dryness, healing damaged skin, or just dealing with general dehydration, smoothing on this cream restores much-needed nourishment and comfort.

Skin Type Guidance

If you tend to have normal, combination, or oily skin, the lightweight daily moisturising lotion is likely going to be your new best friend. Its ultra-gentle, non-greasy formula provides just the right amount of hydration without feeling heavy or occlusive on your skin.

The milky, breathable texture sinks in seamlessly, leaving no greasy residue behind. This makes it the perfect canvas to layer makeup or sunscreen over the top. For those with acne-prone skin, the non-comedogenic formula won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.

On the flip side, if dehydration and dryness are your main skin woes, you’ll want to reach for the thicker, richer cream every time. That dense, buttery texture cocoons your face in nourishing hydration to replenish parched, tight skin.

The higher concentration of ceramides and emollients creates a soft, protective barrier to seal in moisture while still allowing your skin to breathe. Those with dry skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis can find sweet relief from irritation and flaking.

The cream’s occlusive properties also make it perfect for locking in other treatments or serums you use. Just apply your other skincare products first, then seal it all in with the CeraVe cream on top.

In general, the lotion = hydration without heaviness for normal to oily skin. The cream = intense, long-lasting moisture for dry to very dry skin.

Final Takeaway: Taking The Next Steps With The Independent Pharmacy

Alright, we’ve covered a ton of ground here - from the nitty-gritty formulation details to matching the perfect CeraVe moisturiser with your specific skin type and needs. If you’re not sure what your skin type is or which moisturiser is best for you, we can help at The Independent Pharmacy.

The CeraVe daily moisturising lotion is perfect for normal, combination, and oily skin. No greasy heaviness or residue left behind. The CeraVe moisturising cream is ideal to replenish dehydrated, tight, flaky skin. It’s thick and occlusive but still allows your face to breathe.

When choosing between the two, the lotion is ideal for daytime wear - it layers seamlessly under makeup and sunscreen without pilling or feeling slick. The richer cream makes for the perfect overnight mask or dry skin treatment.

But here’s the real key - don’t get too caught up in labels like “lotion” or “cream.” These are just general guidelines. At the end of the day, your skin has its own unique needs that you need to listen to. If certain areas feel tight, reach for the cream. If other zones are looking shiny, use the lotion there instead.

At The Independent Pharmacy, all the CeraVe products you could need, meaning you can have your favourites delivered directly to your door. If you’re still unsure about your skin type or the right CeraVe product for any skin issue you have, get in touch today for advice from our expert pharmacists!


Is CeraVe cream or lotion better?

It really depends on your skin type and concerns. The lightweight CeraVe lotion is ideal for normal, combination, and oily skin that just needs light, non-greasy hydration. But if you struggle with dryness, dehydration, or rough patches, you’ll want to reach for the richer, buttery CeraVe cream. Its thicker, more occlusive texture deeply nourishes and restores parched skin. There’s no one “better” option - it’s about finding the right formula for your unique complexion.

Can I use CeraVe moisturising cream or lotion on my face?

Absolutely! Both CeraVe’s daily moisturising lotion and cream are specifically formulated for use on the face. The lotion provides lightweight, breathable hydration, while the cream offers intense nourishment for dry skin. They contain ceramides to support your skin’s barrier and are fragrance-free, non-irritating, and non-comedogenic, so they’re safe for all skin types. Feel free to use whichever formula your face needs most.

Which lasts longer, CeraVe cream or lotion?

The thicker, denser CeraVe moisturising cream is definitely longer-lasting than the lightweight lotion formula. The cream’s occlusive texture helps seal in hydrating ingredients so moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly. It creates a soft barrier that allows the nourishing oils and ceramides to really soak in over time. The milky lotion absorbs faster but needs more frequent reapplication throughout the day as it’s not as heavy-duty. For all-day, long-lasting moisture, the cream is your best bet.


Danby SG, Andrew PV, Brown K, Chittock J, Kay LJ, Cork MJ (2020). ‘An Investigation of the Skin Barrier Restoring Effects of a Cream and Lotion Containing Ceramides in a Multi-vesicular Emulsion in People with Dry, Eczema-Prone, Skin: The RESTORE Study Phase 1’ -

Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T (2017). ‘The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review’ -

Zeichner JA, Del Rosso JQ (2016). ‘Multivesicular Emulsion Ceramide-containing Moisturizers: An Evaluation of Their Role in the Management of Common Skin Disorders’ -

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