Is CeraVe moisturizing cream good for your face? Extended scientific review

Is CeraVe moisturizing cream good for your face? Extended scientific review

Modern dermatologists argue that epidermal barrier dysfunction plays a role in both temporary skin issues such as itching, dullness and cracking (which are usually symptoms of skin dehydration) and more complex problems like atopic dermatitis and acne.

Dermatologists emphasize two main problems in impaired barrier skin:

  • Excessive evaporation of water. Normally, water enters through the epidermis to

deliver nutrients, regulate maturation of keratinocytes (skin cells), and participate in metabolic processes, so dehydration may lead to the progressive deterioration of skin barrier capacity and appearance.

  • The increase of skin permeability to pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses), which can cause all sorts of inflammation.

There are a variety of things that can impair barrier skin: these include chemical insult from harsh cleansers as well as a change in the lipid structure of the stratum corneum caused by a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet. Nevertheless, if lesions are not too serious, barrier function can be fully restored within 72 hours.

However, sometimes the skin needs external help – that’s where moisturizing creams come in handy.

Well-formulated moisturizing creams are not only aimed to soothe symptoms of dehydration but also to replenish skin’s own barrier structure compounds– this facilitates its restoration. So these are the properties we’ll look for in CeraVe cream ingredient list.

Main components of the epidermal barrier

Besides moisture-binding molecules (keratin and natural moisturizing factor) inside the corneal layer, lipids are key components of the epidermal barrier that can be influenced by cosmetics.

There are two types of these lipids, differing in composition, function, place of origin, and approach needed to repair:

  • Sebum, the derivative of sebaceous glands, mixes with sweat to make the hydrolipidic film (acid mantle) located on skin’s surface;
  • Intercellular lipids are derivatives of special skin cells granules. In stratum corneum, they “are arranged in a highly organized lamellar arrangement (or bilayer) with only very small amounts of water present, presumably interacting with the lipid polar head groups” [Handbook of cosmetic science and technology, 4th edition, edited by André O. Barel, Ph.D., M.S., Marc Paye, Ph.D., and other authors]

This compact structure is very effective in reducing water evaporation through the skin, so it plays a major role in maintaining skin hydration.

A good cream should contain ingredients beneficial for both types of lipids.

CeraVe Ingredient List

Intercellular lipis

Naturally, intercellular lipids are composed of 40-50% ceramides, 20-25% cholesterol, 5-10% cholesterol sulfate, and 15-20% of free fatty acids.

The active ingredients of CeraVe cream, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Cholesterol, Phytosphingosine (ceramide precursor) are biomimetic or physiological lipids that are both very effective and very mild. They interpose with lipid layers to fix cracks and correct lipidic composition, resulting in the normalization of water evaporation and the prevention of pathogen invasions.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a source of free fatty acids. Like ingredients above, it pervades viable layers of the epidermis where gets dismantled by ferments into glycerin and free fatty acids.

Scientists discovered that only presence of 3 main components of intercellular lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids), actually, helps to recover the epidermal barrier. In case, a product contains only 1-2 of them, the process delays, on the contrary.

CeraVe cream is ok here: all major components are presented.


There are two classes of ingredients that can imitate sebum: emollients and occlusives.

Emollients instantly smoothen skin by sleeking scales of the stratum corneum. Thus, the area of ​​moisture evaporation reduces. The light falling on slicked scales don’t get absorbed by rough reared scales, but rather reflect the light, making the skin look radiant (rather than dull).

Emollients used in this cream are glycerin (found in natural sebum), Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Cetearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol (these waxy fatty alcohols are mild and don’t dry out skin).

The second important quality of the sebum is the ability to decrease moisture evaporation forming a semi-permeable, the occlusive film on the skin (which lets oxygen and carbon dioxide pass but not water).

In the CeraVe cream, petrolatum and dimethicone distribute over the surface of the skin, so water that is unable to overcome the film begins to accumulate in the stratum corneum, making the skin more supple and firm.

Occlusive ingredients act as an emergency barrier: the temporary barrier they create protects skin from severe dehydration and permeation of pathogens, allowing cells to focus on barrier restoration instead of the struggle with external stress.

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid (both are naturally present in our skin) form a kind of “wet compress” on the surface of the skin, as both can attract and bind moisture.

MultiVesicular Emulsion

An interesting innovation used in CeraVe cream is the multi-vascular emulsion technology.

The patent states that “most topical actives there is a high or so-called spike release immediately after application followed by a dramatic decrease in release over time. This is not satisfactory since the initial spike dose is often too high and there is a lack of sustained release over time, resulting in minimized effectiveness.”

CeraVe specialists have developed a way to prolong the action of the cream by enclosing the active ingredients inside multi-vascular capsules (which look like a cross-section of an onion). Thus, the active ingredients (either water- or oil- soluble) get released slowly, layer by layer, enabling the cream to act for 24 hours.

This study claims that incorporating a ceramide-containing multi-vascular emulsion into therapy provides more significant advantages in the treatment of patients with atypical dermatitis, acne, and rosacea then typical droplet emulsion.

Behentrimonium Methosulfate, which helps form the multi-vascular emulsion, is derived from rapeseed oil and is high in erucic acid, according to the patent.


  • The cream gently restores the epidermal barrier using biomimetic components;
  • It’s approved for patients with eczema;
  • It incorporates patented technology to prolong the release of active substances over 24 hours instead of the“short spike of activity and fast decline” typical in most products;
  • It does not contain fragrances, so less potential allergens are in ingredients list;
  • It isn’t comedogenic;
  • It’s suitable for all skin types, the oily and the aging are included;
  • Creams containing biomimetic lipids (ceramides, cholesterol) are great for UV-induced skin damage cure.