The Story Behind CeraVe
CeraVe Healing Ointment is just one of the many dermatologist-developed skin care products by CeraVe. Founded in 2005, this affordable line of face and body care products provides a solution to many common skin ailments, including dryness, irritation, sensitivity, aging, acne, and more. These products are able to help with all of these different skin concerns because they work by repairing and strengthening the skin’s natural barrier.
A healthy skin barrier is crucial for soft, smooth, healthy skin. In fact, you can compare the importance of a strong, intact skin barrier to the importance of having a strong, intact roof on your house. If your roof is damaged or weak, the interior of your home could be damaged by things like rain, wind, or even animal intruders. Similarly, a damaged or weak skin barrier allows things like bacteria, pollutants, or other irritants to pass through the top layers of your skin and cause damage. Plus, a weak barrier also allows moisture to escape from the skin. Ultimately, this leads to common skin concerns such as acne, rashes, and sensitive skin.
Since there are many factors in our modern environment that can weaken the skin’s barrier — pollution, environmental toxins, harsh cleansers, etc. — the CeraVe skin care products were formulated with specific ingredients that would help to repair and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. In this review, we’ll discuss the CeraVe Healing Ointment including the key ingredients, reviews from real customers, an alternative for you to consider, and more.
What is CeraVe Healing Ointment?
CeraVe Healing Ointment is a balm that is said to help hydrate and soothe cracked, chafed, extremely dry skin. It is non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types, and free of fragrance, dyes and lanolin to minimize the risk of irritation from these ingredients. The key ingredients in this ointment — petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin, and ceramides — work together to provide hydration while restoring the skin’s barrier.
What Are The Key Ingredients in CeraVe Healing Ointment?
The active ingredient in CeraVe Healing Ointment is 46.5% petrolatum. You may recognize this ingredient because it is the ingredient used in Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Petrolatum is an occlusive agent that reduces the rate of water loss through skin. Since petrolatum has a melting point that is close to body temperature, it softens upon application and forms a water-repellant film around the applied area. The film prevents evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture and increases skin hydration by causing buildup of water in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin). This can also help if the skin is injured since petrolatum can protect the skin and replicate the occlusive properties of the stratum corneum.
In addition to petrolatum, the CeraVe Healing Ointment formula includes two additional occlusive emollients: mineral oil and paraffin. Mineral oil is a clear, odorless oil derived from a mineral source, typically a distillate of petroleum. Liquid paraffin is a very highly refined mineral oil. Both of these ingredients work by forming a film on the skin that acts as a water resistant barrier and helps to prevent evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture, similar to petrolatum. While all skin types can benefit from emollients like mineral oil and paraffin, emollients are especially helpful for those who have dry, rough, and/or flaky skin. Emollients can alleviate these symptoms, leaving the skin looking and feeling soft and smooth.
Of course, the CeraVe Healing Ointment formula includes ceramides (as do all CeraVe skin care products). Specifically, this formula contains ceramide NP, ceramide AP, and ceramide EOP. But what exactly are ceramides and how can they benefit your skin? Let’s take a closer look at how topical application of ceramides may benefit your skin.
Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules that are naturally produced by the skin. According to The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, they are vital in supporting the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum can be thought of as a “brick and mortar” system. The bricks are the corneocytes (dead skin cells) and the intercellular lipids (ceramides) represent the mortar. Without ceramides, the skin barrier is weakened, just like without mortar a brick wall would be weak and unstable. The result is skin that can easily become dry, itchy, or irritated. A properly functioning stratum corneum is essential for healthy skin as it maintains epidermal hydration and serves as a barrier that responds to environmental stressors, infections, irritants, and allergens. Using products that contain ceramides — such as CeraVe Healing Ointment — can help to replenish ceramide levels, thus restoring the skin’s natural barrier.
Lastly, we’d like to point out that the brand claims that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in the CeraVe Healing Ointment. However, there is less than 1% hyaluronic acid in this product. We know this by looking at the ingredient list (which is in order of descending concentrations). Hyaluronic acid is listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol, which cannot be used in concentrations more than 1%. Since there is such a low concentration of hyaluronic acid in CeraVe Healing Ointment, we doubt it will provide any benefit to your skin, and we aren’t sure why CeraVe calls this a “key” ingredient.
How to Use CeraVe Healing Ointment
CeraVe Healing Ointment should be applied as needed to cracked, chafed, or extremely dry skin.
Where is CeraVe Healing Ointment Sold?
CeraVe Healing Ointment and other CeraVe skin care products are not sold on the brand’s website. You must buy CeraVe skin care products on third party ecommerce websites such as Amazon, eBay, Ulta, and more. CeraVe skin care products are also sold in physical retail locations throughout the United States, such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. CeraVe has a store locator on their website so you can find a location near you.
What is The CeraVe Return Policy?
CeraVe does not have a return policy on their website since they do not sell products on their website and, therefore, don’t accept returns.
Is CeraVe Cruelty Free?
CeraVe is not cruelty free. CeraVe is owned by L’Oréal, a company that tests on animals. L’Oréal does not conduct animal testing on their products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. Since L’Oréal products are sold in China, they must test their products on animals by law. The good news is that L’Oreal has invested more than $1 billion over the last 25 years to develop innovative, alternative methods to animal testing, particularly in the area of reconstructed tissue development. L’Oreal and CeraVe are committed to a future without tests on animals.
CeraVe Healing Ointment Reviews
CeraVe Healing Ointment reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive, with the product receiving an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars after more than 100 customer reviews.
Positive reviews for CeraVe Healing Ointment mention that it works well on dry skin on the face and body. Some even mention that it helps to prevent the formation of scars. For example, one review says, “I love cerave’s healing ointment. I use it as the last step in my facial routine and it has helped greatly with maintaining moisture on my face (I have combination/dry skin). It doesn’t irritate my face nor clog my pores. Also, I’ve used the healing ointment on wounds on my body and it has helped the healing process greatly. I saw this especially when I scratched the bridge of my nose (very close to my eye) and constant use of the ointment made the healing process quicker and left no scars.”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the CeraVe Healing Ointment from customers who didn’t like the greasy texture of this ointment. For example, one review says, “Wish I had read these reviews prior to buying and paid more attention to the 46.5% Petrolatum (Vaseline?) content. This is an extremely greasy product and the ads should definitely state so. Very disappointing for a quality company.”
What Are Some Alternatives to CeraVe Healing Ointment?
Overall, we think that CeraVe Healing Ointment is formulated well, and if you have extremely dry skin this may be a good option for you. However, keep in mind that you may be able to get similar benefits by just using Vaseline since the active ingredient in CeraVe Healing Ointment is petrolatum. But if you’re looking for a rich yet non-greasy moisturizer that not only keeps your skin moisturized and soft but also provides anti-aging benefits, we’d recommend Formulyst’s Lifting and Wrinkle Smoothing Cream.
This velvety smooth cream is formulated to help lift and refine the appearance and tone of your skin. The formula features Moringa seed oil for intense moisturization, Evodia rutaecarpa fruit extract to help brighten and refine, while peony extract helps to improve the appearance of skin density for a smoother, recontoured look. In the short term, Formulyst Lifting and Wrinkle Smoothing Cream helps the skin appear smoother and healthier looking, while over time helping your complexion feel firmer and more youthful.
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.
Am J Clin Dermatol 2003;4(2):107-29.