As an eczema sufferer, I have a lot of experience with moisturizing creams, ointments, and lotions.
Top Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin
Which is the best moisturizer, and which one works best for you? I have sensitive skin, and it gets dry very easily due to my eczema. As an eczema sufferer, I have tried many creams, ointments, and lotions, most of the time without success. However, there are products that work for my dermatitis, and I am going to tell you which ones.
CeraVe vs. Cetaphil: Which Is Better for Eczema?
The most common comparison when it comes to emollient creams is between CeraVe and Cetaphil.
Cetaphil is a good product, offering a decent price per ounce and great results for treating mild eczema and preventing reoccurring dermatitis for those with sensitive skin. CeraVe, on the other hand, can do wonders for even more serious eczema cases. It is my favorite moisturizer.
CeraVe is a more luxurious product, and it won't feel greasy on your skin. Don't get fooled by the myth that only the thick, greasy creams work for eczema. The ceramides in the CeraVe cream help restore the skin's natural moisture-retaining ability.
CeraVe's cream is so thin that we can consider it almost a lotion, but it works like a cream.
CeraVe vs. Cetaphil Lotions
The CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion has a thin consistency, and it is absorbed very easily into the skin. There is no oily feel on your skin after applying; it is the best daily moisturizer.
The Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion is an effective and very affordable solution for dry skin, but the problem is that it leaves your skin oily. If you are okay with that, this isn't a bad product, but CeraVe works better.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe is the most luxurious moisturizing cream. It is my number-one favorite, and I use it all the time. I even give my son a massage with it after his baths, too. This cream has a few ingredients that help dry skin: the ceramides, the hyaluronic acid, and the petrolatum.
Ceramides are waxy fats in the skin's composition, with a protective role (ceramides and skin function).
Hyaluronic acid is an important component of the tissue, with a major role in maintaining healthy skin. It is responsible for retaining the moisture in the skin, thus maintaining elasticity and integrity.
Petrolatum is a very efficient, inexpensive way to artificially seal the moisture in the skin by applying a protective layer that replaces the insufficient human sebum.
Lotions vs. Creams vs. Ointments: Which Is Best?
The three main forms of moisturizers are lotions, creams, and ointments. All of them contain about the same ingredients but in different proportions. The ointments are the thickest ones, containing the least water. The lotions are the runniest, and they are absorbed into the skin the fastest.
So what's the best moisturizer? Is it the ointment because you get the active ingredients in a more concentrated form? Actually, no, because they penetrate the skin with difficulty, and they will form a thick layer over your dermis. They will stick on your clothes and everything your skin comes in contact with, and they are dirt collectors.
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So then, is the lotion better? I would have to say no, because lotions need to be applied too many times, and we usually don't have enough time to apply lotion a few times throughout the day. Lotions feel great for the moment, but they disappear very fast, leaving your skin exposed.
The best emollient is the cream. It has the best balance between absorption into the skin and lasting action. A good cream for eczema, or dry skin, will not disappear within minutes after application. It will actually last for hours before you need another application.
Take all of these pronouncements with a grain of salt because, in special cases, the other forms could work better.
Top 6 Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin
The central ingredient of the CeraVe is the ceramides, which are the lipid part of the cell's membrane, and they have an essential role in the cell's health. Another ingredient in the Cerave's creams and lotions is the hyaluronic acid which promotes cells' regeneration. If you have never tried this brand, you should know that their cream is not as thick that many other creams.
The main ingredients of the regular Eucerin moisturizers are petrolatum, ceresin, and water. Nothing fancy, but the proportions of the ingredients and the manufacturing process make it a great product, a favorite of the consumers. Other more advanced Eucerin products contain Licochalcone, which helps against skin's inflammation and Omega-6 fatty acids which replenish the skin for a healthy balance. Other Eucerin products contain oatmeal, for calming the skin. Ceresin is a replacement for beeswax in cosmetics, and it has similar properties. I personally prefer beeswax, but ceresin is a very close second.
Vanicream does not contain any special ingredients; however this is a good cream, with a decent price. For just dry skin without any complication such as redness or itching, this is a good prevention option.
TriDerma Eczema Fast Healing Cream is the best cream for healing eczema, not only soothing the itching, calming the skin, and reducing the redness, but actually healing the skin. This obviously has a price, and that translates in prices per ounce twice as much as any of the other. TriDerma contains as healing ingredients a mix of many natural oils, and plant extracts, known for their skin healing properties and vitamins. Some of these ingredients are: kukui nut oil, aloe vera extract, arnica extract, shea butter, pro-vitamin B5, vitamin A, sodium hyaluronate, for the whole list, check below.
Cetaphil is one of the favorites of eczema sufferers. Its ingredient list does not stand out from the crowd, the only ingredient uncommon being the sweet almond oil, which is known as a good oil for skin. Like Vanicream, Cetaphil is not very expensive, and people find a great help for dry skin.
Aquaphor is another popular treatment for diaper rash and dermatitis. It is a good moisturizer and nicely priced. Even though the ingredients list doesn't impress with any active ingredients, and it is very similar to common emollients such as Vaseline, it works better than those. The only cons about this product are the lanolin, which in rare cases could aggravate eczema, and the mineral oil that is great to protect from diaper rash but it is not great for skin. Aquaphor is produced by Eucerin, so you can rely on its high standard of quality.
Petroleum jelly is one of the best ingredients in eczema creams. That's why we find it in all of the moisturizers. Petrolatum will seal off the skin, helping the reduction of water loss, and providing the skin the so much needed water necessary for proper healing. Some people don't like the feeling of a thick cream on their skin though, and petrolatum makes the cream thick, and makes it harder to penetrate the skin.
Theraplex Emollient is a great product with a special formulation. It uses special petrolatum fraction, cyclomethicone, and microcrystalline wax.
The result is a thicker cream with a more sticky consistency, but it works great. When fighting eczema, you need to try many products until you find the one that works best for you.
Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
Vanicream Ingredients: purified water, white petrolatum, sorbitol solution, cetearyl alcohol, propylene glycol, ceteareth-20, simethicone, glyceryl monostearate, polyethylene glycol monostearate, sorbic acid and BHT.
Vanicream is a non-greasy moisturizing cream, free of lanolin, fragrances, dyes, or parabens. Great as a daily moisturizer.
Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Creme
Eucerin Ingredients: Water, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
Eucerin is a non-irritating, fragrance-free, and very effective moisturizer. This is my second choice after CeraVe. The ceresin in Eucerin is very similar to beeswax, and it has the same properties. Petrolatum with ceresin forms a film that prevents moisture loss.
TriDerma Intense Fast Healing Cream
TriDerma Ingredients: Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Petrolatum, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, Squalane (source Olive Oil), Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA, Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Dimethicone, Avena Sativa (Oat) Protein, Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, IPBC, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA.
TriDerma is one of my favorites because it uses beeswax as the moisture protector agent. Beeswax has been proven to be more effective at holding the moisture in the skin than petrolatum, and petrolatum was for a very long time considered to be the best.
Warning: I am not sure why, but for some people, TriDerma doesn't work. Some people find it causes the skin to become even drier. I suspect the mineral oil in the composition, but for most people, this cream is a lifesaver.
How I Treat My Eczema Outbreaks
My approach while having an outbreak is to use a steroid-medicated lotion/ointment for about a week (for me, the best are the ones containing hydrocortisone), and CeraVe cream as needed by the skin. I stop drinking coffee or caffeinated tea, and I try to drink a bit more liquids. After seven days, I find that I only need to continue with CeraVe.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: What are the best over-the-counter creams for Psoriasis?
Answer: Creams will only make Psoriasis manageable. Since Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, you need to search for the cause. Modern medicine doesn't care about the cause; doctors will give you steroid creams to manage it. However, steroidal creams come with side effects, (prolonged use can cause worse problems than your Psoriasis). You have to look for the cause yourself.
Question: Is Cerave also good for psoriasis? I have an extreme breakout this summer! Help needed, the ointments given by dermatologist only made it worse!
Answer: Cerave will only alleviate some of the symptoms. The best approach is to find out what is causing the inflammation in your body triggering psoriasis. A diet approach might be beneficial.
Question: Can CeraVe be used on the scalp?
Answer: Yes, but it will look messy.
© 2012 Dorian Bodnariuc
Your Comments: Which Moisturizer Works Best for You?
rita hutchins on March 07, 2018:
None! Didn't you see the CBS article disclosing that all these creams makes skin tumors grow in rats studies?
Madelyn Ewing on February 22, 2018:
Too bad Cereve still uses Parabens. That's the only reason I go with Cetaphil, as they have a paraben free moisturizer (green and white labels)
N. Young on February 18, 2018:
Cetaphil has lanolin in it, and I found I was allergic to wool, so that didn't work for me. I have found that a lotion called Sarna seems to at least release some of the itching. Thanks for all the comments, very helpful.
Yolanda Nyhus on July 11, 2017:
Moisturel cream for sensitive skin works best for me but unfortunately it has been discontinued. :(... I tried Cetaphil and it burned my skin and i broke out in blisters, it took a week to heal. I tried vanicream and I broke out in cystic type pimples. I have VERY sensitive skin. I am going to have settle with moisturel lotion until moisturel cream comes back out.
Tim Lillis on November 27, 2016:
What about the parabens in cerave? Many think they are unsafe. The fda is still investigating. Might be enough to bump me back to cetaphil
Dorian Bodnariuc (author) from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on February 01, 2014:
@ChrisLowery: I am glad you like my lens @CrisLowery One factor in acne dynamics is the bad bacteria on your skin. The way I deal with that, and I have a long history of acne, is to apply neat yogurt on the skin. Another trick is to use any of the moisturizers on this page and mix it with tea tree oil. The thicker creams work better for this, Cetaphil worked great for me. Another thing that worked for me is propolis cream, see my lens about wonder salve cream: http://www.squidoo.com/wonder-salve-home-remedy-fo... cream is a miracle for many skin problems. It's not a luxurious cream, but it is very efficient.
ChrisLowery on February 01, 2014:
It is really a good thing that I found your lens. I have a very sensitive skin and usually get acne breakout every once in a while. I tried using moisturizers, creams and lotions, your post clarifies my doubt thank you! I am now thinking of resorting to creams, what specific cream among the recommendations have you tried and proven to be very effective?
MarcellaCarlton on June 18, 2013:
I absolutely loved this article. Do you think you could fix the vanicream paragraph, where it states "the petrolatum is the". I would really like to put a link to this article from one of mine if that's alright. This is just top drawer!
anonymous on May 03, 2013:
I have tried all of these...and can't say that I have a favorite...you did find the best ones though!
Auriel on March 10, 2013:
rocgirl on October 31, 2012:
I like Cetaphil, too. I also use a Cetaphil face wash. It's the only thing that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.
Joan Haines on October 30, 2012:
I like Cetaphil. Although it's not glamorous, it works, and is just right, not greasy. My sensitive and dry skin gets soft. It's reasonably priced, too.