review: CeraVe moisturizing cream

Definitely one to add to the list of stuff to try if your skin’s sensitive, sensitised, etc.
UPDATE: new post on 2011-11-25. Rapid verdict: a keeper for body-moisturising purposes; but sadly, on this particular skin, not so good on the face. Not throwing it out, but it just hasn’t been as successful as some other moisturisers. [ED: I've revised that last opinion, by the way...]

SEE ALSO:

This is a no-frills unscented minimalist functional skin barrier repair cream. Large tubs; there’s also a smaller tube; can like anything else be decanted into tubes, for instance so as to carry some around during the day. Tested out on face, around the eyes, and other body parts: the neck-throat-bosom area (skin there is much like on face, some areas are more sensitive); hands; rougher skin on elbows and feet. Theoretical bumff: “unique, patented Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE®) delivery technology.” Contains glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and cholesterol in a bland emollient base–trigycerides, fatty acids, petrolatum, dimethicone. There’s also a lotion version, plus AM & PM lotions that also have niacinamides; the AM version also contains sunscreen–alas, not all-physical.

More of the official bumff:

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream increases the skin’s ability to attract, hold and distribute moisture.  It penetrates deeply into the layers of the stratum corneum (the skin barrier) to restore the balance of lipids that are essential for an effective skin barrier.  CeraVe Moisturizing Cream also forms a protective layer over the skin’s surface to help prevent moisture loss.

INGREDIENTS:
Water (Purified), Glycerin, Ceteareth 20, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methylsulfate/Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 11, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

PROS:

  • No irritation.
  • No cloggery.
  • It does indeed moisturise. There’s a few ifs and buts, further down this post…
  • Also, good around the eyes.
  • Feel of skin: smooth, sleek, plus quite fine to the touch–without feeling fine-fragile. That may well be the barrier-repair business. Sadly, I wasn’t able to examine cross-sectional samples of my skin under the microscope: that would be a useful experiment to conduct.
  • Cruelty-free; ingredients are petroleum-derived (thus: OK on the animal front–being originally plants or plankton way back when–more on the mineral oil debate and associated silliness here) or plant-based (ex. the glycerin, the coconut derivatives) or lab-synthesized (ex. the silicone and ceramides).

CONS:

  • Some people might not like the petroleum by-product ingredients or the use of paraben preservatives (or, indeed, preservatives at all). Just saying. Neither is an issue for me. Especially having had skin infections, and blood poisoning c/o an open wound. I like my preservatives. Plus bonus issues of manipulative fear-mongering by certain pressure-groups, in the absence of actual scientific data or–worse, perhaps?–misreading and misrepresentation of what data there is.
  • OK, a fact’s a fact: the design is rank. Being slightly phobic on such things, I’ve got the tub turned around so I don’t have to see those tasteless shades of horrid Margaret Thatcher blue. The font is neither retro nor classic; but at least it’s bland. Work needed on this.
  • Some people might not like the tub and having to put their fingers into it. I’m not bothered–it has preservatives, and I dip in with clean hands. *Shrug.*

PRICES & SOURCES:

USD12.50-16.00 or CAD 22.95 for 16 oz / 453 g. Available in loads of US drugstores. Canada: London Drugs. Or online from, again, various US drugstores, amazon.com, well.ca. Elsewhere: Google around, consult the CeraVe site, etc. Small tube (pack of 2) available online from Dermadoctor.com (decent shipping prices to Canada), also Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, and probably others. I didn’t look that far: just till I got someone solid and reputable selling the stuff at a non-inflated price and with non-exorbitant shipping.

If this had produced the same results as Avène Tolérance extrême on my face, or A-Derma Skin Repair Cream on face or body: price would already have put CeraVe ahead. Comparisons:

  • the CeraVe = CAD22.95 for 453g (= $5/100g)
  • the Avène = CAD35.00 for 50g (= $70/100g)
  • the A-Derma  = CAD24.95 for 150g (= $16.50/100g)

Got a tube from a lovely kind friend (elf_107, who–as ever–rocks); two days later, sallied forth and bought a whole huge tub from LD. They’re currently doing a deal whereby you get the cleanser (full-size, no less) free with the cream or lotion; so I’ve got a bottle of the Hydrating Cleanser to test out, too. Feels fine on rapid test–but not actively looking to switch over, as it’s pricier than my usual one, and I like my usual one a lot.

GENERAL TEST RESULTS:

  • Initially and for the first hour or so: moisturises as well as the other creams used. While skin never felt exactly *dry* before, I found that side of my face and that hand hadn’t retained moisture as well as the other side. It didn’t feel greasy, but the skin was more supple. I do notice that by the end of the day, partly with air conditioning and/or heating, I get dehydration wrinkles around my eyes and across my knuckles. They’re rapidly resolved by patting in some water and some more moisturiser, so no disaster… but still: at the end of the day, less so than usual.
  • Note that this continued for about a week. Then some changes occurred:
  • Colder, drier weather: skin went from matte and smooth to really rather dry. Which makes sense: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides being humectants. So: great in rainy weather, less great in drier weather, would probably not recomment this stuff at all in properly dry weather (and indeed dry cold).
  • Other factor: heating at work. This means a drier environment, plus shifts in temperature (and other atmospheric factors, such as air moisture) between indoors and outdoors. These changes are a factor for my skin’s everyday life as my work involves moving around–and thank goodness for that–inc. moving outside, back inside, etc. Whatever I slap on my face, skin is always more sensitive and drier when subject to these changes.
  • No change there: but the change is that my usual moisturisers have a fair amount of, well, lardiness: grease which hold moisture in, underneath it; and which–with the right sort of grease, of the right consistency–keeps skin lubricated through the day, in a regular way. As opposed to just making skin oily then wearing off, or making skin oily then sitting on top, smothering the old pores, and resulting in cloggorama.

So. I guess I’ve found out by trial and error that my skin’s good at capturing moisture from its environment–products on top, surrounding atmosphere–but just as good at returning the favour. In dry conditions, it dries out fast and its primary need is some kind of sealant to keep moisture in.

The next experiments have been trying to tweak CeraVe:

  • I used this on damp skin–sealing in that hydration–with some rosehip oil patted in underneath, like a serum. As I usually do. This wasn’t moist enough.
  • Changing that hydration-oiliness-sealing moisture sandwich: I mixed some heavier oil in with the rosehip (my usual multi-purpose oil: currently mineral, sunflower, and sweet almond). This helped a little. Dry patches (forehead) were still dry and itchy at the end of the day, though.
  • I mixed in some of that multi-purpose oil with the CeraVe: this worked well… but still, dry patches at the end of the day.
  • I used more on certain parts of face: this was good, but the extra just sat there and got wiped off eventually.
    Still: that makes me wonder if this stuff could be used as a mask, just left on in a thick layer for a certain length of time then removed?

And now, onto the straw that broke the camel’s back: my chin. It’s a very ordinary chin. And surrounding area around nose and mouth. But: if it’s greasy, it gets spotty. If it’s dry, it goes flaky and itchy and sore. If it’s cloggy, well, you all know what clogs look like: bumpiness under skin, looming threateningly, growing, building up, tightening up, getting ready for drama, being tantalizingly sore yet there’s nothing you can do about them until–bam!–explosive drama.

Well, gentle readers, I managed the triple-whammy.

Throughout the experiments, even with the 101 tweaks and so on, whatever I did, I had two teeny zitlings next to my mouth. With some experimentation–trying to up the oiliness, those last tweaks in dry weather–the chin protested more vigorously.

Sigh.

So that’s a “no” on the face; or at least, not on such a significant proportion of my head, unless mixed in very carefully with several things, and each of several mixes applied to a different area of head, as to be a “no” because I just don’t have time to concoct several specific hand-mixed creams first thing in the morning.

BUT: other factors to take into account: the season, the weather, alternating heat/cold; lifestyle factors–stress, etc.

BUT BUT BUT:

It’s a “yes” on all unexposed body parts: shower, leave skin slightly damp, pat in oil, apply some of this cream, and it’s as good at skin-soothing and moisture-sealing-in as my heavier emollient balms (ex. A-Derma Exoméga), whilst sinking in better.

Add that my eczema is back, somewhat–not calamitous but it’s definitely there and keen to make its presence felt–and I can vouch that this stuff is nice and soothing. On, I stress, whatever funky kind of eczema I have; which isn’t as bad as it’s been; and isn’t anywhere near the severity of serious eczema I’ve seen on fellow-sufferers. Also: on the soothing front: it’s no better or worse than other creams and unguents and poultices and so on that have also soothed it. In my experience, it’s very simple: either something soothes the eczema–in which case you don’t feel anything, forget about it, and continue life as normal–or it doesn’t soothe it–and you go through your day constantly aware of the eczema. OK, there’s the Third Way: does nothing to soothe AND makes it worse: enabling you to spend your day in constant irritation, increasing agony, and aggravation thereof.

COMPARATIVE TEST RESULTS:

Tested out split-face and -body: comparisons with three regular, tried-and-tested moisturisers:
1. Avène Tolérance extrême (on face, I’m not so rich I can use this all over…)
2. A-Derma Skin Care Cream (all over)
3. A-Derma Exoméga emollient balm (body)
4. Dr.Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light (face only).

  1. Avène: I used about the same amount. Moisturisation was about the same. No chin-issues with the Avène. Forehead dryness better with the CeraVe.
  2. A-Derma SCC: I used more of the CeraVe, about twice as much. Which is still OK, as it’s less than half the price…
    Similar feel on body, similar moisture-retention. I didn’t find much to discern in differences between them. But: if one of the two is available in your area and not the other, and you’ve been lusting after whichever one isn’t available–lust no further!
    Face: I found a thin layer of the A-Derma worked about as well; using about 1/3 as much as I did the CeraVe. Making the prices about the same, were one to be looking for something for the face. Similar moisturising and skin-feel. Initially, more smooth sleekness with the CeraVe; but the A-Derma continues to feel moist and plump through the day, even in dry weather.
  3. A-Derma EEB: much of a muchness. Looking at the two sides to which different things had been applied: there was no visible difference, both sides felt the same (there was visible early-stage eczema but no inflammation and no pain), doing a quick pinch-test the moisture retention seemed similar.
    A-Derma EEB is too rich for many bits of my face, though (ex. chin).
    Note that I was wearing clothes on top, all day :) and wearing wool socks. I’ve found wool helps a lot; I also use lanolin creams as needed (I’m one of the fortunate people with no irritation-issues with wool or lanolin, though I get zittiness with some lanolin derivatives. Plus the ethical one of feeling an obligation to fuss around and ensure the wool or lanolin was more ethically sourced, no mulesing, etc., etc. O life in hard: but buy good expensive wool, and it they lasts for decades. Seriously. I have woolly socks that are nearly 30 years old and still going strong… though they’ve needed the odd bit of darning. Ah, yes: darning’s a very useful and worthwhile life-skill!)
  4. (But I digress.) Dr.H: now, I know as well as the next sensible person that much of the stuff from this brand is overpriced stuff and nonsense. Much of it is actively detrimental to sensitive skin. As for the attached bunkum: well, no further comment besides “it’s bunkum” and “it’s a free world, so long as you’re not harming anyone, you’re free to believe whatever you choose, so long as you’re aware this is a BELIEF and not a FACT or a TRUTH.”But Dr.H make a couple of things that I happen to like, and value. The next post on here might be a sort of cumulative review of their stuff–the good, the bad, and the traumatically unmentionably ugly (that would be the makeup).Three for you, O sensitive readers out there:
    —the rose day cream light
    —the rose day cream (heavy/original)
    —the eye contour balm (a.k.a. “the joke in the jar”)Of these, RDCL is a moisturiser I admit to going back to from time to time, have done so over the last few years: since it came out and I first used up a free sample. It feels a little like Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion, but moister. It’s basically my own bench-mark against which I judge other face-creams: feel, finish, comfort through the day. Skin not only in decent condition, supple, with just the right amount of moisture–like Goldilocks and the three bears: not too much, not too little, just right. I get these things already with the A-Derma SCC or the Avène TE. RDCL: more: skin like fine silk velvet.

It’s expensive. But: I use a very small quantity–less than any of the other creams under comparison on here. And it’s completely and utterly reliable. (NB: YMMV, as ever, and so on…) Better still, if I’ve experimented with skin and things have become unhappy: this is the best stuff I’ve found on calming skin down. Even with nice plain bland things like the A-Derma SCC, at certain times of the month–or with more stuff going on at work–my skin will stress out; and I’ll switch back to the RDCL; and skin settles down. That’s what I mean by “reliable.”

I used to think of RDCL as my TOTM cream, especially as yes, it is pricey. But it’s not fiendishly expensive, we’re not talking Perricone, La Mer, Sisley, La Prairie, Orlane, Kanebo Sensai, SK-II, etc. On the other hand, if money’s no object and the sole criterion, if you buy into the “because I’m worth it and it’s worth it” credo: have a look here (definitely not affiliated, eeeps and urghhh).

So: back to the good old stuff that works; and skin is happy and chirpy.

The End. OK, not really, just till the sequel–and next posts, starting with the trials and tribulations of Dr.H.

the most expensive (ice) cream in the world

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