Is CeraVe Good For Oily & Acne-Prone Skin?

CeraVe is an affordable drugstore brand that offers products for every skin type and concern, including a decent range of products for acne-prone skin.

Additionally, the brand prides itself on taking a minimal approach to formulations, reflecting the fact that its products are often formulated with minimal ingredients.

However, even though they are constantly promoted by dermatologists worldwide, are all CeraVe products good for oily and acne-prone skin?

In this article, I will explore CeraVe’s philosophy and approach to skincare and discuss whether the brand is truly suitable for all skin types and concerns.

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Introduction to CeraVe

CeraVe is a popular skincare brand renowned for its unique formulations that cater to various skin types, including those prone to oiliness and acne.

The brand’s main focus are formulas that restore and maintain the skin’s barrier, which is why at the core of their products lies a blend of three essential ceramides, fatty acids, and niacinamide, along with other lipids designed to replenish ceramide levels in the skin, promote a healthy moisture barrier, and enhance skin protection against environmental aggressors.

Furthermore, the brand’s philosophy emphasizes simplicity and efficacy, offering a range of products free from common irritants and allergens such as fragrances and parabens, making it suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.

Finally, most CeraVe products are budget-friendly, which is another reason why the brand has become a go-to solution for individuals seeking effective, gentle, and accessible skincare options to address the challenges of various skin concerns.

Is CeraVe Good for Acne?

CeraVe offers a decent range specifically designed to combat acne, consisting of products with ingredients such as niacinamide, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. However, CeraVe’s best-selling moisturizers are not suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.

Both the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion and Moisturizing Cream are thought to be neutral moisturizers that can be used by all skin types; however, both products contain ingredients that can trigger breakouts if your skin is prone to acne.

The CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion contains Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, a natural emulsifier that gives the formula a soft, powdery feel; however, this comedogenic emollient can contribute to pore-clogging and acne.

The ingredient itself is gentle and is often found in products for sensitive and baby skin.

However, bear in mind that while sensitive skin may have an impaired skin barrier that needs extra nourishment, and baby skin doesn’t have active sebaceous glands to produce pore-clogging oil, these skin types have the least chance of breaking out from this particular ingredient, and can actually benefit from it.

This is not the case when it comes to oily and acne-prone skin, in which the sebaceous glands are overactive, and Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, an emollient that can further contribute to clogging the pores, can become a potential acne trigger.

Now, before you start to think that you have sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin, consider that your skin is more likely to be sensitized, which is different from sensitive.

A tiny percentage of people are actually born with sensitive skin as a skin type, and most of the “sensitivity” we experience as adults is created by an impaired skin barrier, which can be the result of multiple factors, including harsh weather conditions, certain medications, and the use of cosmetic products.

On the other hand, the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream contains tocopherol, a fat-soluble antioxidant consisting of vitamins C and E, which can cause breakouts in those with oily and acne-prone skin.

Tocopherol can be found in many cosmetic products, so if you have stubborn acne, it’s worth digging a little deeper and testing products that don’t contain this component to determine whether it’s the one causing you an issue.

Finally, in addition to these two products, most CeraVe moisturizers are chock-full of emollients and silicones that might comfort your skin for a while but can cause breakouts afterward.

Key Ingredients in CeraVe Products for Acne

While most CeraVe products are not specifically targeted toward acne-prone skin, some of the brand’s formulations can be beneficial for managing and reducing the appearance of acne.

Here are some key ingredients to look out for in CeraVe products that can help with acne-prone skin:


Central to CeraVe’s success are ceramides.

These lipid molecules are fundamental in maintaining the skin’s barrier and retaining moisture.

By replenishing the skin’s natural ceramides, CeraVe products help restore the barrier, preventing irritants and bacteria from overgrowing and triggering inflammation, a common culprit in acne development.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that attracts moisture to the skin, ensuring it remains hydrated without contributing to oiliness.

This is particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin, as proper hydration can reduce the overproduction of sebum, a key factor in acne outbreaks.


Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, offers multiple benefits for acne-prone skin.

It helps to calm inflammation, a common symptom of acne, and regulates oil production, preventing pores from clogging.

Additionally, niacinamide can improve the skin’s texture and tone, addressing post-acne marks and hyperpigmentation.

Salicylic Acid

A beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid, is known for its exfoliating properties.

It penetrates deep into the pores to dissolve debris and excess oil, clearing out blockages that can lead to breakouts.

Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties, effectively reducing the redness and swelling associated with acne.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient used to treat mild to moderate acne.

It works by infusing the pores with oxygen and destroying the airless environment the bacteria that cause acne prefer to live in, thus reducing inflammation and unclogging pores.

While this ingredient can be harsh and drying to the skin, some CeraVe products containing benzoyl peroxide are formulated with moisturizing and hydrating ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid to counteract any potential side effects.

Best CeraVe Products for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin

Here are a few products that can help you improve your acne concern:

CeraVe – Foaming Facial Cleanser

The Foaming Facial Cleanser is a fantastic daily cleanser for oily and acne-prone skin.

Its foaming consistency effectively lifts impurities accumulated on the skin’s surface without leaving a greasy layer behind.

Additionally, while the cleanser doesn’t contain acne-fighting actives such as salicylic acid, it does contain niacinamide, which can help balance oil production and hydrate the skin.

CeraVe – Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser With 4% Benzoyl Peroxide

The Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser With 4% Benzoyl Peroxide is a particularly effective cleanser for more severe acne and sensitized skin as it can be used as short contact therapy.

Given that the strength is 4%, it is quite a strong product that shouldn’t be used daily; therefore, try to incorporate it into your evening routine 2-3 times a week and keep it on the skin for no longer than 60 seconds. 

Always follow up with a hydrating moisturizer, as it can potentially dry out your skin in the beginning.

CeraVe – Acne Control Gel

An effective spot treatment, the Acne Control Gel has a lightweight, fast-absorbing formula consisting of salicylic acid to dissolve cellular debris inside the pores and soothe inflammation, glycolic acid to shed dead skin cells away and promote cellular turnover, and lactic acid to hydrate the skin’s surface and fade post-acne marks.

The blend of active ingredients is boosted by added ceramides and niacinamide and aims to help minimize the severity of pimples after the very first use.

Suitable for all skin types, the gel should be applied to clean and dry skin and followed by a hydrating moisturizer to prevent dryness and irritation.

CeraVe – Resurfacing Retinol Serum

The Resurfacing Retinol Serum contains a mild retinoid that makes it an effective product for post-acne scarring and uneven skin texture, while niacinamide and propanediol help balance oil production and hydrate the skin while also strengthening its barrier and soothing active acne.

On the other hand, the serum does contain one problematic and potentially clogging ingredient at the bottom of the list called Isopropyl Myristate, which is a heavy emollient usually found in cream-based tretinoin

It works as a penetration enhancer, and although it can usually cause some breakouts, the concentration in this particular product is very mild, so the chances of having an adverse effect are minimal.

CeraVe – Body Wash with Salicylic Acid 

CeraVe’s Body Wash with Salicylic Acid is a fantastic product for body acne, bumpy skin texture, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

The mild percentage of salicylic acid helps dissolve the cellular debris that clogs the pores and causes acne while brightening and hydrating ingredients such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides help keep the skin smooth, even, and clean.

Why Do So Many Dermatologists Recommend CeraVe for Acne?

why do dermatologists recommend cerave for acne

CeraVe has particularly compatible products for tretinoin and Accutane users, which is why most dermatologists recommend the brand’s products to patients suffering from side effects, such as dryness, redness, and irritation, caused by these treatments.

A dermatologist’s job is to help you get rid of your skin concerns quickly and efficiently, so people often leave the doctor’s office with prescription medication and a treatment plan to help ease the side effects the medication can create.

So, if your derm prescribes a course of combined medication, they will likely advise you to bring your skincare routine to a minimum and use products that have the least chance of exacerbating your side effects.

Additionally, drugs targeted for treating acne are notorious for drying the skin; therefore, your derm wants to make sure your skin barrier is protected and maintained, which is precisely where CeraVe’s formulations excel.

Their products are designed to hydrate and replenish the skin barrier, making them an ideal choice for those undergoing treatments that may compromise skin health.

However, if you are not using any medication that can potentially dry out your skin, the wrong selection of products can cause excess oiliness, and even a CeraVe product can clog your pores and cause your skin to break out, no matter how good it is.

This is definitely something you should consider when deciding on your next CeraVe purchase.

If you’ve learned about the brand from someone else, make sure to dig a little deeper and try to figure out whether their particular skin concerns match yours and what they are doing to address them.

Little you may know, they might be going through a course of medication that alters how their skin behaves on a molecular level, and these products are working for them, but they might be a disaster for you, even if you happen to have the same skin concern, such as acne.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can CeraVe Products Cause Breakouts?

While CeraVe products are generally beneficial for the skin, some contain ingredients that might clog pores, making them less ideal for individuals with oily and acne-prone skin as they can potentially lead to breakouts. 

Can I Use CeraVe with Other Acne Treatments?

CeraVe products are often recommended by dermatologists to soothe dry and irritated skin caused by acne treatments like tretinoin and Accutane, thanks to their hydrating and barrier-restoring ingredients.

Therefore, using CeraVe products alongside other acne treatments is safe, but it is always best to consult a dermatologist for personalized skincare recommendations.

How Long Before I See Results with CeraVe?

Depending on the skin concern being addressed, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before seeing results with CeraVe products.

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