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CeraVe Alternatives: 5 Cruelty-Free Moisturizers With Ceramides

by Suzana Rose

Feb 18, 2021

CeraVe is often recommended by dermatologists and the brand is also advertising more heavily these days, which is why their popularity has grown. Unfortunately, this brand is not cruelty-free, and they're also owned by L'Oreal which means that their parent company tests on animals as well. In this post, I'm going over CeraVe's main benefits and ingredients, and sharing the best cruelty-free alternatives.

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What's so special about CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream?

First, let's take a look at the key ingredients most people love about this moisturizer.


“Purified Water, Glycerin, Cetareth-20 and Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Cholesterol, Phytosphingosine, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.”

1. Ceramides: naturally-occuring in the skin

Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II

Ceramides are lipids that help prevent moisture loss. According to Paula's Choice, Ceramides are naturally present in over 50% of our skin. This is why ceramides are well-loved in skincare. We also lose ceramides as we age and along with sun exposure, so using a moisturizer with ceramides helps keep the skin supple and hydrated.

2. Humectants: bringing more hydration

Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid

Humectants help your skin retain moisture, which is key to plump-looking skin. They essentially work by pulling moisture from the air to the upper layers of the skin. Humectants are especially beneficial for those with drier skin types. In CeraVe, you'll find glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which are both humectants.

3. No potentially-irritating ingredients such as fragrance or essential oils

Another big draw for CeraVe is the lack of certain ingredients. Compared to other products, CeraVe's list of ingredients is small. It doesn't contain any ingredients that could be irritating or allergens. For example, fragrance and essential oils are frequently added to moisturizers, but both can be irritating.

Could we do better?

CeraVe has real benefits: it contains ceramides, which are naturally-occuring in the skin, humectants, and doesn't contain any irritating ingredients. This makes it a good choice for those with dry skin, sensitive skin, or conditions such as eczema.

However, it does contain ingredients some people might find problematic.

Cholesterol for example in present in CeraVe, and although the brand is reformulating its line of products to be 90% vegan, it's likely the cholesterol here is not vegan. There's also the use of silicones and petroleum, which some people prefer to stay away from. Finally, parabens, which many people avoid, are used as a preservative in CeraVe's Moisturing Cream.

What are the best cruelty-free alternatives?

Ceramedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream ($17.99)

Best for: The closest dupe, good for those with sensitive skin and conditions such as eczema.

The closest cruelty-free alternative to CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream is Ceramedx. Their Ultra Moisturizing Cream ($17.99) is marketed towards dry skin, though it's suitable for all skin types. It contains both ceramides (which are plant-based) as well as the same humectants as CeraVe (glycerin and hyaluronic acid).

The ingredients list is different and it contains more natural moisturizing ingredients such as Cacao Seed Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, and Apricot Kernel Oil. It also contains some plant extracts. All that said, it's fragrance-free and it doesn't contain irritating ingredients. It also doesn't contain parabens, unlike CeraVe.

Buy from: Amazon


Aqua, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Sorbitan Stearate, Dimethicone, Sodium PCA, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Ceramide NP, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Sambucus Nigra (Elder) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Allantoin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Lactic Acid, Sorbityl Laurate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

2. Paula's Choice Ceramide-Enriched Clinical Moisturizer

Best for: Aging skin, to replenish ceramides and help keep skin supple while addressing fine lines.

Although this isn't an exact "dupe", it could even be a better alternative to CeraVe depends on what your skin concerns are. This product contains ceramides, glycerin as a humectant, but also Vitamin C, a small dose of retinol, as well as other moisturizing ingredients. Because of this, it's targeting mature skin as well as fine lines and wrinkles. It's also free from potentially irritating ingredients.

3. Paula's Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer

Best for: A good dupe to provide deeper hydration.

This is another good dupe for CeraVe, as it's packed with hydrating and skin-replenishing ingredients. It contains ceramides, glycerin, as well as mineral electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It plumps skin and provides a dewy look. It also doesn't contain ingredients that could be irritating.

4. Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream

Best for: A moisturizer with ceramides for most skin types, but keep an eye out for potential irritants.

This is a drugstore moisturizer that contains ceramides, but unfortunately it might not be suitable for those with sensitive skin, or conditions like eczema. It also contains glycerin as a humectant as well as several moisturizing ingredients. Please take a look at the ingredient list first before purchasing in case you might have any sensitives.


Aqua/Water/Eau, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Caprylic/CapricTriglyceride, Hydrogenated Poly (C6-14 Olefin), Hydrogenated Polydecene, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Betaine, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Sorbitan Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Octyldodecanol, Dimethiconol, Butylene Glycol, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Ceramide NP, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil,Hydrogenated Lecithin, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Rosmarinus Officinali (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Propanediol, Sucrose Cocoate, Dextrin, Disodium EDTA, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Caramel, Centella Asiatica Extract, Lecithin,Phenoxyethanol, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Polyglutamic Acid, Tagetes Minuta Flower Oil,Potassium Sorbate, Betula Alba Bud Extract, Corylus Avellana (Hazelnut) Bud Extract, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Leaf Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Bud Extract, Tocopherol.

5. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Although this option is pricier, it contains 3 ceramides as well as glycerin and hyaluronic acid to provide even more hydration. It's described as "a rescue cream infused with six African oils and a plant ceramide complex for intense moisture and replenishing barrier support." It's suitable for all skin types and it's also vegan.

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+ Show Comments (10) - Hide Comments (10)
  • Kelley says:

    Thank you for taking the time to create this. Very helpful.

  • Eriyul | Oregon, USA says:

    Thank you for making this post. I have been using Cerave moisturizing cream religiously for the past four years. I mainly bought from Costco, also from Rite Aid and occasionally Walmart.

    I used to claim that Cerave healed my eczema, and I would recommend it to everybody, but recently, my hands started rejecting it. Which is incredibly debilitating as someone of suffers from eczema.

    My eczema would flare up more and turn very red, and irritated.

    Something was telling me that this product was not right anymore, and that I needed into this company, the ingredients it uses and start healing my self with natural ingredients.

    Finding out that Cerave is not only owned by L’Oreal but is also owned my Nestlé; which has a huge crime history with their products.

    I also am aware that companies can change ingredients over time to lower quality without the consumer realizing. Or companies will allow smaller companies to use their labeling but put complete different products in it while still using the other companies labeling. (Ross is a great example of this. They claim to carry high quality clothing brands, but really it’s cheap fabrics with similar patterns with the high brand tags)

    I’ve bought Cerave moisturizer cream in many different sizes, and the smaller sizes I bought from Walmart definitely have a different lotion in them. It felt like a completely different the product and cheap.

    My concern is Costco is a cheaper version too which is my main source. I don’t know for sure but my intuition is telling me something is off.

    Im researching natural oils and moisturizers for skin, so thank you for the recommendations. I will definitely try some of them.

  • Jeanne Bruno says:

    I recently found your website and was upset to see products on PETA’s website were not really cruelty free. I am trying very hard to switch my products to cruelty free but some of them are so expensive, especially face moisturizer and face wash. I am 66 years old and so many of the products are so expensive on a fixed income. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Kris says:

    Appreciate this work and this post! I think the lack of affordable options just goes to show how much work still needs to be done in the mass-market… We shouldn’t have to be forced to choose between our budgets and our morals. Thank you for this information! Looking forward to continued progress for these companies.

    Keep up the great work

  • Eva says:

    I appreciate your information, but also wish there would be a product recommendation that wasn’t in plastic…

  • raluca gug says:

    I am sorry to say this but are you serious with your recommendations? Some of these are super expensive.We are talking hundred of dollars to get the same amount of product.Do better .I will hope you did not listed these products to make a profit

    • Suzana Rose says:

      Hi Raluca, I hope you’re well. Unfortunately there aren’t many inexpensive cruelty-free dupes for a brand like CeraVe. After looking at the ingredients and researching, the closest and most budget-friendly option is Ceamedx at $18. If it’s not available where you’re located, the second moisturizer by Paula’s Choice is a great option as well and it’s $35. Hopefully more cruelty-free drugstore brands will come up with similar products in the future.

  • Mary G says:

    I love your website and find it very helpful and informative. Thank you for that! I am reeling from sticker shock with these products. In my situation I have to choose affordable products and these are really far out of my price range. I’m glad there are others who can buy them but I sure can’t.

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