As a skincare editor who has tested countless lotions, Aveeno and Cetaphil are two of the most popular for sensitive and dry skin. While both brands make gentle, fragrance-free lotions, there are some key differences between them.
Aveeno is best known for their oat-based formulas. Oats contain antioxidants and natural colloidal oatmeal that help soothe itchy, irritated skin. Their classic Daily Moisturizing Lotion contains soothing oat extract as well as dimethicone and glycerin to hydrate. The rich, creamy texture absorbs quickly without greasiness. Cetaphil lotions like their Moisturizing Cream also contain glycerin but rely on chemical emollients like cetearyl alcohol rather than natural oils and extracts. The lightweight, oil-free texture absorbs fast but isn't quite as moisturizing.
For severely dry, irritated skin, Aveeno's Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream with colloidal oatmeal is thicker, longer-lasting, and more protective. Cetaphil's Restoraderm Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer has a lighter lotion-gel texture better for mild dryness and eczema flareups. Those with very sensitive skin may find Aveeno's natural oat formulas gentler.
Aveeno lotions work well for keratosis pilaris "chicken skin" bumps on arms and legs thanks to the exfoliating effect of oats and rich moisturization. They also contain feverfew, an anti-irritant that helps calm the redness of keratosis bumps. While Cetaphil lotions hydrate, they lack exfoliating ingredients to specifically target keratosis.
For facial use, Aveeno's Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 soothes inflammation and redness prone skin with feverfew, oats, and nourishing shea butter. Their Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer also treats acne-prone skin thanks to salicylic acid. Cetaphil's lightweight facial lotions like their Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 are better for oily, acne-prone skin needing oil regulation rather than richness and heavy hydration.
User reviews for both brands are overwhelmingly positive. Fans of Aveeno praise the rich moisturization from natural colloidal oatmeal that calms irritation and dryness. Cetaphil users love the fast-absorbing hydration that never feels greasy. Negative reviews for both are rare and usually come down to personal preferences around thickness, absorbency and ingredients.
The biggest difference is Aveeno lotions tend to cost $1-3 more than Cetaphil for similarly sized bottles. But fans say it's worth paying a little extra for moisturization that lasts longer between applications thanks to more emollient, naturally-derived ingredients.
Overall, those with extremely dry, sensitive or eczema-prone skin may find Aveeno body lotions more nourishing. While Cetaphil offers cheaper lightweight hydration better for oilier skin types. Both brands make excellent facial moisturizers for different needs - just base your choice on your particular skin goals.
Tom is the founder and editor of TheDermDetective.com where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.