Cerave vs. Cetaphil


E.C | Pharmacist

1/7/20232 min read

Cerave and Cetaphil are two popular brands used in the skincare and they are quite similar in formulation. But what are the differences between the two? How to know which one is better for your skin?

The main differences:


Cetaphil is a skincare product manufactured by a pharmacist in Texas in 1947. It has become a very popular brand especially amongst young adults for its different formulations and skincare benefits. The purpose of its launch was to deliver a product which was suitable for sensitive skins and today it is one of the top products recommended by dermatologists for sensitive skin.

There are three main ingredients which constitute the Cetaphil product, hence making it very friendly to sensitive skin as well as delivering its full effectiveness to reduce redness, dryness and inflammation:

  • Niacinamide or vitamin B3

    It acts by preventing the evaporation of moisture from the skin, hence reducing the dryness and toughness of the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which helps to calm down the irritation and inflammation associated with sensitive skin.

  • Panthenol or pro-vitamin B5

    Panthenol is a precursor of vitamin B5, hence called provitamin. It has soothing, lubricating and healing properties to the skin.

  • Glycerin

    Glycerin is a very potent moisturiser. It acts by pulling out the water from the inner layers of the skin to the outside leading to full hydration of the skin.

    Except these main ingredients, different products contain other ingredients based on their function such as: vitamin E, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, aloe vera, urea, avocado oil and almond oil.

Moreover, most Cetaphil products are paraben-free, sulfate-free and vegan, as well as environmentally friendly.


Cerave was developed by a team of dermatologists in 2005. Its purpose of manufacture was to launch a skincare product which would repair and strengthen the skin barrier leading to hydration and full moisture of the skin. Compared to Cetaphil which targets mainly sensitive skin, Cerave targets very dry irritated skin.

Cerave uses a specific technology called MultiVesicular Emulsion technology which aims a slow 24-hour release of its hydrating ingredients to help keep the skin moist all day long. The main Cerave ingredients include:

  • Ceramides (1, 3, 6-II)

    Ceramides are a type of lipids that help to keep the skin barrier intact and healthy. They do this by sealing the moisture of the skin in and keeping harmful irritating ingredients out.

  • Fatty acids

    Fatty acids help to create a protecting layer on the skin which help to strengthen the skin barrier as well as keep the moisture in by regulating the oil production, balancing skin hydration and preventing breakouts or skin ageing.

  • Other lipids

So which one should you choose?

Both these products are recommended by dermatologists which makes them reliable and effective products. However, due to slightly different ingredients and purposes, one might be better than the other and vice versa. This depends on your type of skin. If you have sensitive skin, prone to inflammation and irritation, Cetaphil would be a better choice for you. If you do suffer from very dry dull skin, then Cerave would be a better option. Whichever brand you choose, there'll be no disappointment.