Is Vanicream Or CeraVe Moisturizer Better For Dry Skin?

The harsh cold air of the winter months combined with the dry heat used to warm up indoors can do a number on our skin. If your skin is feeling dry, tight, itchy, or flakey right now, you are far from alone (via Mayo Clinic). Even if you live in a warmer climate, dry skin can be caused by several other factors, including over-washing, harsh cleansers, chlorine in pools, sun exposure, and more. Provided you are not experiencing a medical condition that would require professional treatment like an allergic rash, excema, or other issue, then simple steps can be taken at home to improve the condition of dry skin. 


Two of the most commonly-recommended moisturizing creams for dry skin are CeraVe and Vanicream. While a dermatologist might recommend one of these to you, they are also available at most pharmacies without any type of medical advice. But if you are looking to clear up your dry skin quickly, which of these brands is best at the job? 

About Vanicream

Vanicream is an intensive moisturizer that is frequently recommended to help treat and prevent dry, scaly, rough, or otherwise parched skin (via WebMD). According to the product's own website, it is meant to be used to help "restore and maintain a normal moisture level." The website advertises that its product "soothes red, irritated, cracking or itchy skin." It says it can also be used to help treat atopic dermatitis, which is known as eczema, psoriasis, and simple winter itch. 


Further, Vanicream's moisturizing cream scores a 2 on the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" scale of clean and safe products. The ideal number is a zero, which would mean a product is certified fully safe and clean by the EWG, but a score of 2 is still in the watchdog group's "green" level, meaning the concern for unhealthy reactions to the product or longterm toxicity associated with the product is low.  

About CeraVe

CeraVe moisturizing cream is another commonly-prescribed over-the-counter solution to dry skin issues. According to the product's website, it helps to restore and re-build dry skin's damaged moisture barrier using active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Worth noting, however, is that unlike Vanicream, which earned a 2 and a green label from The Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" safety scale, CeraVe's moisturizing cream earned a 3, which lands it in the orange label category. Specifically, the watchdog group cites higher concerns for allergic reactions and irritation than a product that earns a green label. 


This might be a concern if in addition to dry skin you also have sensitive skin or topical allergies, especially to ingredients like sulfates. Of course, this does not mean that every person who uses CeraVe is likely to have a negative reaction to it. Some people swear by it. 

So now that we know all of these details of both creams, which do we recommend you use?

Which is best?

Interestingly, the beauty and skincare experts over at Byrdie conducted their own in-house study to determine which is better for dry skin: Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer or CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. They liked that the Vanicream comes in a tube, which is less likely to become contaminated than a tub of cream with a twist-off top. Further, the subjects were glad to know that Vanicream does not clog pores. Some did notice, however, that the product can cause a slight burning on dry skin directly after application. The burning went away quickly, however, as the cream was absorbed. 


What the Byrdie team liked about CeraVe was that it felt deeply nourishing, had a creamy consistency, and can be used on both face and body. However, they were concerned that it can clog pores and didn't like that the product comes in a large tub with a twist-off top. The bottom line, however, and what made the team choose one over the other, was the fact that Vanicream proved less likely to cause irritation, cause breakouts, or trigger allergic reactions in the form of rashes. Considering that this particular Vanicream formulation earns a 1 on the EWG scale, making it even safer than its body cream counterpart, and given what we know about the EWG's rating and allergy concerns where it comes to CeraVe, this makes sense to us. 


Therefore, based on all of these factors, we recommend Vanicream over CeraVe for dry skin.