Rough, Bumpy Skin? Check Out Our CeraVe SA Cream Review



Dermatologist-developed skincare brand CeraVe has come a long way since it launched in 2006 with just three core products: a Moisturizing Cream, Moisturizing Lotion, and Hydrating Cleanser. This triple threat was formulated to repair and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, which can weaken due to improper skincare, exposure to cutaneous irritants, occupational exposures, low humidity, and environmental toxins, to name a few. 

Understanding that the importance of a healthy skin barrier leads to equally healthy skin, the brand expanded its line of products to address numerous dermatologic issues like keratosis pilaris (aka “chicken skin”), for example. 

Keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps (they don’t typically hurt or itch), often found on the upper arms, thighs, or buttocks. The condition is often considered a variant of normal skin. Those who possess KP essentially have a very compromised skin barrier, leading to dryness. The condition appears when dead skin cells clog your pores — that’s where CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin can be helpful. 

Formulation Facts: The Smoothing Powers Of CeraVe SA Cream

  • CeraVe Renewing SA Cream is designed to improve skin texture and soften parched, rough patches. To accomplish that goal, salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid) and lactic acid (alpha-hydroxy acid) work synergistically to exfoliate, soften, and smooth rough, dry, scaly, and bumpy skin on the body.
  • Hyaluronic acid helps counteract potential dryness from salicylic and lactic acids without clogging pores. It’s a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to the skin. So, when you apply Cerave’s SA Cream, the hyaluronic acid helps keep the skin hydrated. Using products with HA allows it to look plumped up and feel smooth.
  • Niacinamide works together with salicylic and lactic acid to help brighten the discoloration associated with keratosis pilaris. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 or niacin that may help to improve the appearance of pigmentation and aging, can increase the antioxidant capacity of the skin, and may be involved in maintaining the skin barrier. 

Clinical studies indicate that niacinamide significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness after four weeks.

The acids have an exfoliating action that helps renew and brighten the skin. Salicylic acid decreases hyperpigmentation, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Along with exfoliation, deep hydration is vital for treating a skin condition like keratosis pilaris. CeraVe included three essential ceramides to lock in moisture and help maintain the integrity of your skin’s protective barrier. 
  • The unique combination of three essential ceramides (ceramides 1, 3, 6-II) in CeraVe SA Cream help replenish skin’s existing ceramides and alleviate dry skin by reducing moisture loss, increasing hydration, and restoring the skin barrier.

“Ceramides are part of a subgroup of lipids called sphingolipids,” explains Elle, our in-house biochemist. “Ceramides act similar to mortar between bricks; they help to seal in moisture in conjunction with the skin cells present in the uppermost layers of the skin.”

The Details  

  • CeraVe rough and bumpy skin cream features MVE technology. Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE) technology is an innovative delivery system that makes formulas like CeraVe SA Cream much more effective. In addition to a controlled release of active agents, research shows that transepidermal water loss is reduced, which helps protect your skin barrier and provides long-lasting hydration.
  • CeraVE Renewing SA Cream is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic. Most dermatologists recommend going this route since added fragrance — from synthetic to natural like essential oils — can irritate, particularly for those with sensitive, compromised skin. 
  • However, not all fragrance is “bad.” It’s more about the chemical composition —  if it’s safe, and how your skin reacts. In fact, some folks actually like a bit of the scent in their products, and fragrance tends to be mainstream in the luxury skincare market.
  • As dermatologists created CeraVe, it’s tested and (according to the brand) the number one dermatologist-recommended skincare brand. 

Precautions When Using CeraVe SA Cream For Rough And Bumpy Skin

  • Apply the salicylic acid cream to affected areas only or as directed by a physician
  • Sunburn alert: This product contains an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using CeraVe SA Cream and for a week afterward.
  • Don’t put on broken skin or irritated skin.
  • Discontinue use if you experience any irritation or burning.

Our Verdict

Overall, we think CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin is an effective product for those dealing with keratosis pilaris or who have dry, rough patches of skin on their upper arms and thighs or buttocks. 

  • We appreciate the balance of exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid and lactic acid to address bumps and rough texture with the unique combination of three essential ceramides (ceramides 1, 3, 6-II) to help replenish skin’s existing ceramides and alleviate dry skin by reducing moisture loss, increasing hydration, and restoring the skin barrier.
  • As CeraVe SA cream was developed and backed by dermatologists, it’s no surprise that it’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic.

Salicylic acid can cause skin sensitivity in some individuals, so consider conducting a patch test before using this cream. Also, it’s vital to wear sunscreen and only apply the product in the areas that need treatment — not all over the body.


Unfortunately, CeraVe is not genuinely cruelty-free. Cerave is sold in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law to sell beauty products there. As a result, it cannot be considered genuinely cruelty-free and is not certified by any cruelty-free groups.
This results-driven salicylic acid cream exfoliates, softens, hydrates, and smooths rough and bumpy skin that appears on your upper arms, thighs, and buttocks.
While you’ll find some CeraVe SA Cream reviews that state users have applied the cream to their face, it’s a product designed to be used on areas of concern only — not all over the face or body.
As with all of the brand’s products, CeraVe’s rough and bumpy skin cream is suitable for dry, sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. It’s fragrance-free, allergy-tested, and non-comedogenic
CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin contains 2% salicylic acid.
You can apply CeraVe as often as needed or as directed by a physician.
Due to the addition of salicylic acid, you may feel a gentle tingling sensation when using the product, according to some CeraVe reviews — but discontinue using it if you experience extreme burning or stinging. You’re likely reacting to the product.
While it depends on which retailer you’re purchasing the cream from, the average cost for a 12-ounce jar is around $20.
CeraVe cannot be considered a vegan brand because many products contain animal derivatives like glycerin and cholesterol. According to a brand representative on Amazon, the products do not have any porcine, bovine, or ovine originating ingredients except for lanolin (derived from sheep). Still, they may use ingredients derived from fish and insects

So you read our CeraVe SA Cream Review and decided to give the product a try. Suppose you had a reaction to CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin, yet you still need a solution for your chicken skin. Here are a few alternatives.

AmLactin Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream is a thick, rich cream designed for visibly rough, bumpy, dry skin, often associated with Keratosis Pilaris (KP.) Like other AmLactin products, the formula contains the brand’s proprietary ULTRAPLEX lactic acid formula to exfoliate and soften and mineral oil, petrolatum, and glycerin to provide deep hydration.

Dermadoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub is made for those with keratosis pilaris and dry, rough, bumpy skin. It contains 10% alpha hydroxy acids and PHAs (another exfoliating acid), combining the benefits of a chemical peel with microdermabrasion. This clean, clinical, and cruelty-free formula also contains soothing botanicals such as evening primrose, black currant seed, and borage oils.

Skinfix Resurface AHA Renewing Cream is formulated to hydrate, gently exfoliate, and soften rough, bumpy, and crepey skin. It’s clinically proven to help reduce the appearance of bumps on arms and thighs caused by keratosis pilaris, thanks to a 5% natural AHA blend and 1% lime extract.

“Rosso JD, Zeichner J, Alexis A, Cohen D, Berson D. Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting.” J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(4 Suppl 1):S2-S8.
“Keratosis Pilaris Overview,.” American Academy of Dermatology.
“Bikowski J, Shroot B. Multivesicular emulsion: a novel, controlled-release delivery system for topical dermatological agents.” J Drugs Dermatol. 2006;5(10):942-946.
“Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer.” Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04834.x. PMID: 12100180.
“Sarkar R, Ghunawat S, Garg VK. Comparative Study of 35% Glycolic Acid, 20% Salicylic-10% Mandelic Acid, and Phytic Acid Combination Peels in the Treatment of Active Acne and Postacne Pigmentation.” J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2019;12(3):158-163. doi:10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_135_18



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