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CeraVe cream to foam cleanser review: Is it as good as the original hydrating cleanser?

The new formula promises to hydrate and remove make-up without stripping the skin, but does it deliver?

Louise Whitbread
Wednesday 09 September 2020 14:58 BST
With a £3 difference between the two, is it worth swapping one for the other? We put them to the test
With a £3 difference between the two, is it worth swapping one for the other? We put them to the test (iStock/The Independent)

CeraVe is a long-established American skincare brand that landed in the UK in 2018. Loved by many, in my years working in the beauty industry, I’ve yet to hear a bad word about it.

This is for two simple reasons: it’s affordable and effective. There’s no frills when it comes to the packaging, following the clinical look of French pharmacy brands such as La Roche Posay and Avene, but the science led ingredients pack a punch. 

In my own skincare routine, I’m an avid fan of the smoothing cream, a giant £18 tub of body moisturiser that tackles dry, rough, and bumpy skin far better than any luxury counterpart three times the price.  

However, it’s the hydrating cleanser that is the brand’s hero product. You’ve probably come across the white and green bottle on your Instagram or TikTok feed, as it’s recommended dermatologists and skincare lovers alike.

The formula, costing just £9.50 a bottle, is designed for normal to dry skin and is packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which work in unison to hydrate skin, retain moisture and prevent water loss.

It’s been a consistent part of my routine since the beginning of 2019 and as a long term sufferer of hormonal acne, it’s my go-to for when I have a flare-up and want something that will soothe and calm stressed skin without leading to more breakouts.

While in the US, CeraVe offers a long line-up of products, it has a more refined range available in the UK, and the latest launch for us Brits is a cream-to-foam cleanser that promises to remove all traces of dirt, grime and make-up.

Foaming cleansers can often strip the skin of moisture and leave it feeling dry, as the foaming agents are high in alkaline and can be too harsh, however this latest launch from CeraVe promises to hydrate, something we were keen to put to the test.

At first glance, both cleansers look almost identical, but I put them to the test to see if it’s worth making the switch, looking at texture, efficacy, price and results to see the difference between the two.

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CeraVe hydrating cleanser 236ml

We’ve found this cleanser to work well on all skin types
We’ve found this cleanser to work well on all skin types (CeraVe)

This £9.50 cleanser can only be described as gentle. It has a creamy, silky texture that dispenses generously via the pump. Typically I use this in the mornings and as a second cleanse in the evenings, massaging it into wet skin before rinsing off, and one pump is more than sufficient.

It’s very lightweight and instantly softening, and no matter how many times I’ve accidentally got it in my eyes, it hasn’t irritated them.

The pump is helpful too, as when your hands are wet, you can use the side of your arm to dispense the product without splashing water all over the bathroom floor.

I have tried using it to remove make-up, using a flannel to take it off my face once applied,  but I find the weightlessness of the formula can’t quite shift my waterproof mascara and fuller coverage foundations, so I often have to go in again to get the bulk of it off my face.

That said, it does a brilliant job at leaving skin feeling refreshed and smooth when used on a make-up free face in the mornings and evenings.

Ceramides make up an important part of the formula and the entire brand for that matter. Put simply, they are lipids, or fats produced naturally by the body that forms a protective layer on the skin barrier to retain moisture, prevent water loss and protect against environmental aggressors like pollution.

However, our production of ceramides can become depleted due to ageing and sun damage resulting in dry, rough or even itchy skin. This cleanser works to make dry, textured skin look and feel plump and hydrated within just a few days of use.

Overall this is a bargain beauty buy well worth adding to your stash, for all skin types. My only gripe is that the bottle is opaque so without unscrewing the pump, it’s harder to tell when you’re in need of a replacement.

Buy now

CeraVe hydrating cream to foam cleanser 236ml

This creamy formula is fantastic for dehydrated skin
This creamy formula is fantastic for dehydrated skin (CeraVe)

The latest launch claims to cleanse, hydrate and remove make-up without disrupting the protective skin barrier and is rich in amino acids which help to attract and hold water on the skin.

Along with ceramides and amino acids, it also contains hyaluronic acid, a hero ingredient for dehydration. One molecule can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a great hydrator.  

Like its predecessor, it has a creamy texture that I applied onto a wet face and massaged in. It immediately lathers into a rich foam that spreads evenly across the skin without being overwhelmed by bubbles.

Similar to the hydrating version, it didn’t quite manage to remove my waterproof mascara but it did effectively take off my foundation, concealer, bronzer and blush. If you like to wear bold and bright lipstick shades, I’d recommend using micellar water to remove it first, as I did struggle to remove every trace of my favourite red lippie with the cleanser alone.

As I have combination skin, typically I tend to avoid foam cleansers, as they can be quite drying, so I was pleasantly surprised at how rich and creamy the lather felt on my skin. It’s easy to rinse off too, leaving no residue.

It definitely works best as a morning cleanser or second cleanse in the evening if you like to wear a full face of make-up products. While it was better at removing make-up than the original hydrating cleanser, it still doesn’t completely remove all traces.

Costing £3 more than the original at £12.50, I’m not sure the higher price tag is warranted as both are decent products that offer similar results, but either way, you get a generous 236ml bottle that in my experience with the original hydrating cleanser, will last months. So if you love the hydrating cleanser but want a bit more make-up removing power and hydration thanks to the amino acids, we’d suggest trying the new version.

The bottle is translucent too, which is ideal for keeping tabs on how much you’ve used and when you need a new one.

It’s currently sold out, but keep checking back in for updates on its return.

Buy now

The verdict: CeraVe hydrating cleanser vs Cerave hydrating cream-to-foam cleanser

Both products offer similar attributes; affordable, accessible, simple skincare products that work and while they don’t’ quite live up to the claim of effectively removing make-up, they both hydrate skin well and leave your complexion as clean as can be.

Ultimately, it boils down to what texture your prefer, though I’d recommend using the new cream-to-foam cleanser if you’re after a lighter texture that has an added boost of hydration thanks to the amino acid-rich formula. It’s weightless, easy to rinse off and leaves skin feeling comfortable and soothed. 

For more on skincare, read our round-up of the best SPF moisturisers or our review of the re-formulated Estee Lauder advanced night repair serum

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