Skincare devotees on YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit have been gushing about CeraVe’s miraculous moisturizing properties for a while now. But CeraVe has quite a few satiny, well-hydrated skeletons in its closet. For instance, the company’s claims of not testing on animals are hardly accurate.
To help sort this out, we’ve laid out the reasons why these claims are incorrect, and we've also found some cruelty-free alternatives to CeraVe's moisturizing cream and face wash.
What does cruelty-free mean in cosmetics?
One common misunderstanding in the U.S. is that all of the ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products must be tested on animals. According to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the FDA “does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety.” More importantly, the term “cruelty-free” doesn’t actually have a legal definition across countries. This means that any brand can claim this status even if their products have somehow, someway, been tested on animals. It's best to look for products that are certified cruelty-free by a third party label, such as the Leaping Bunny Program.
Is CeraVe cruelty-free?
This is not the case in mainland China, however. All cosmetics sold or manufactured in the country must be tested on animals by law. According to Cruelty-Free Only, CeraVe sells its products in mainland China, which means they must be tested on animals in accordance with the law. There’s no wiggling out of this requirement, either.
CeraVe’s products must be tested on animals as part of both pre-market and post-market animal testing, so the company cannot just make it elsewhere without testing and sell it after testing specifically for China. So, despite the claims on the CeraVe website that the products are "not tested on animals," no, CeraVe is not cruelty-free, since it is sold in mainland China.
What makes CeraVe so great?
CeraVe has two main features that make it an ideal skincare product. The first is that the brand's products are readily available, being sold everywhere from CVS to the supermarket. In addition, CeraVe products are uncomplicated and gentle, which means they are unlikely to contain ingredients that irritate sensitive skin.
Finally, CeraVe contains ceramides, which are waxy lipid molecules that are naturally found in human skin. These molecules protect against excessive moisture loss and act as a barrier against microorganisms. But as established, CeraVe is not cruelty-free — plus, it actually contains parabens.
What are some cruelty-free alternatives to CeraVe?
Luckily, there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to CeraVe's moisturizing cream on the market. Here are a few of our recommendations.
Ceramedx Ultra-Moisturizing Cream
Ceramedx Ultra-Moisturizing Cream contains the same oils as CeraVe, as well as the all-important ceramides that consumers are often looking for in a skin cream. It soothes and creates a moisture barrier in the same way as CeraVe, but is 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and non-GMO. It's the closest dupe to CeraVe that we've found.
Ceramedx also makes a few other products, including a gentle body cleanser and facial cleanser, which are solid dupes for CeraVe's facial cleanser.
A. Florence Skin Rehab Rich Cream
A. Florence’s Skin Rehab Rich Cream is similar to Ceramedx in that it features ceramides, other lipids, and natural oils. A. Florence has several different blends with cooling and antioxidant-rich compounds and natural extracts that are great for the skin and the immune system.
CVS PM Moisturizing Facial Lotion
Yes, you heard us correctly. CVS's store-brand products are not tested on animals, and the CVS PM Moisturizing Facial Lotion is comparable to CeraVe. It’s cruelty-free, contains many of the same beneficial ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid (albeit in slightly smaller concentrations), and it’s cheaper than CeraVe. Most CVS brand products tend to be cheaper and just as effective as their name-brand counterparts, of course, but it’s only here that we might understand why.
According to My Dad the Chemist, those aforementioned ingredients are the most expensive and efficacious parts of what makes CeraVe good. If the CVS product does contain less of them, it could explain the difference in cost. Plus, CVS is skipping a middleman and making the products itself, which helps keep costs lower than CeraVe. Nevertheless, it's likely that using the CVS product will hydrate and protect your face almost as much as CeraVe, and without the added animal cruelty.
Everyone 3-in-1 Lotion
Everyone offers a number of cruelty-free and vegan skincare products, including face creams, facial cleaners, and hand sanitizers. Everyone's 3-in-1 Lotion is mild, unscented, and pretty close to CeraVe's lotion. It’s a great choice for those who want a non-greasy lotion uncomplicated by scent.