CeraVe vs Clinique: which of these heavyweight moisturizers should you go for?

CeraVe vs Clinique—which brand offers the best moisturizer for dry skin?

Clinique vs Cerave
(Image credit: Clinique / Cerave)

CeraVe vs Clinique—which of these two heavyweight brands has the best moisturizer for your skin? 

If you’re looking for a super-hydrating face cream to remedy dry, flaky skin and keep patchiness at bay, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and Clinique Moisture Surge are two of the best moisturizers for dry skin out there. When it comes to how to choose moisturizer, it's all about knowing what the ingredients are. Both of these have a lot to offer in terms of skin-soothing properties and nourishing ingredients, but which one is right for you?

CeraVe vs Clinique: the need to know

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

  • Targets: Perfect for very dry skin on the face and body
  • USP: No-nonsense hydration, gentle enough even for the most sensitive skin
  • Key ingredients: Contains hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides (organic compounds that make up the skins natural barrier)

Clinique Moisture Surge

  • Targets: Very dry and dehydrated skin with a deep moisture hit
  • USP: Intensely rehydrating, with ingredients that activate the skin’s own internal water source
  • Key ingredients: Aloe vera, Hyaluronic Acid 

What’s so special about CeraVe Moisturizing Cream? 

CeraVe moisturizing cream

(Image credit: CeraVe)

CeraVe has achieved cult-like status among beauty aficionados—many are ditching their regular go-to's and adding CeraVe products to their skincare routines—as being a slightly pricer alternative to a classic thick, no-nonsense moisturizer like E45 or Nivea. It is more sophisticated in that it utilizes patented MVE delivery technology—a delivery system that releases hydrating ingredients into the skin over time, rather than with a short burst of moisture—to help replenish ceramides and deliver controlled, long-lasting hydration. 

“All CeraVe products are enriched with three essential lipid molecules found naturally in the skin. Ceramides are part of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) and ensure that the skin barrier functions correctly,” Tom Allison, CeraVe co-founder, told us. “When ceramide levels are low, the skin barrier is weakened and skin can become dry, itchy, or irritated. By adding these three ceramides to its skincare range, CeraVe helps restore the skin barrier, giving plump, hydrated skin.”

CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream is perfume and color-free making it a perfect solution for sensitive skin. Plus, this cream is packed with nourishing ingredients like ceramides (natural oils found in the skin) fatty acids, and phytosphingosine (a water binding agent). 

What’s so special about Clinique Moisture Surge? 

Clinique moisture surge

(Image credit: Clinique)

Clinique’s Moisture Surge is technically classed as a “hydrator”, meaning it can be used on its own if your skin needs a moisturizer with a lighter texture, or over your regular face cream to lock in moisture and create a fresh, dewy complexion. Aloe vera is the hero ingredient here. You'll immediately feel the soothing sensation it has when the get is applied—it really does feel like your skin is drinking up a pint-sized glass of much-needed H20. The result is plump, smooth skin with a radiant glow. 

Like CeraVe, Moisture Surge is formulated with hyaluronic acid to deliver a moisture hit of up to 152%, according to the brand. Activated aloe vera and caffeine team together to activate the skin’s own “internal water source”, which essentially means they help to draw water from the deeper within the skin to hydrate the top of the epidermis. Fancy.

What’s the main difference between the two?

The most obvious difference here is the texture. CeraVe's cream is rich and thick—we'd argue that it's more suitable for slathering on before bed as opposed to under your makeup. Though if your skin is dry, patchy, and flaky, a heavier cream may be needed. Clinique Moisture Surge is a lightweight gel that glides onto the skin with ease and is fast-absorbing, so perfect for busy mornings when you are on the go. 

The simplest way to polarize these two moisturizers would be by the seasons—summer (Clinique Moisture Surge) and winter (CeraVe Moisturizing Cream)—but that would be too simplistic. I personally love a refreshing gel moisturizer for a skin revival first thing in the morning, especially in the winter months—and those who suffer from very dry skin know this isn’t a condition that clears up come summertime.

Should I buy the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or the Clinique Moisture Surge?

If you’re after a non comedogenic hydrator that suits oiler, or combination, skin types, Clinique Moisture Surge is a great option to use alone, or over your regular moisturizer for an extra moisture boost in the winter months. If it’s more a heavy-duty, deeply hydrating cream you need, we recommend CeraVe’s non-nonsense approach. 

Those with very dry skin should opt for the latter for deeper nourishment, or why not try both together? There's often debate about how to apply moisturizer effectively, and it really comes down to what your skin needs. We love the versatility of Clinique’s Moisture Surge, as it can be used in conjunction with other products as a final moisture-boosting step, or even as a mask if you want fast results; simply layer on a thick layer and tissue off the excess after ten minutes. 

Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. 

As well as keeping up with the latest news and most-talked-about TV shows, Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences and adventures to life online. A big fan of adventure herself, she also loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book. You can mainly find pictures of her cat (and a few humans for good measure) on Instagram at @laurenkatehughes.