CeraVe - Avoiding Irritants in Conventional Skincare Products

My father is turning 90 years old on June 4. He’s had eczema his entire life; the itchy, red, dry skin kind. Two months ago he told me he couldn’t sleep because he was scratching his legs all night long. Since he lives in West Virginia and I’m in Seattle I told my sister to change the lotion he was using to one that had only natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and ones with skin calming properties like German Chamomile or Damascus Rose.


Unbeknownst to me she took him to see a dermatologist who recommended CeraVé Moisturizing Lotion. A week later my Dad told me his skin was worse! The dermatologist actually recommended a product that actually CAUSED my father’s irritated skin along with the usual strong prescription Hydrocortisone Creams that have nasty side effects like skin redness/burning/itching/peeling and blistering skin according to rxlist.com.

I didn’t recognize any of the ingredients except water, glycerin and cholesterol (?).

INGREDIENTS: Purified Water, Glycerin, Ceteareth-20 and Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.

The natural and ‘clean’ skincare movements have been gaining traction in the last few years because large corporations have been making products that are irritating people’s skin with cheap petrochemicals and irritating ingredients for those with sensitive skin. Clean products typically avoid sodium lauryl sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, synthetic fragrances, pthalates and petroleum products to name a few.

I went to EWG’s Skin Deep’s database to see the toxicity rating for CeraVé’s ingredients. It turns out the water, glycerin and cholesterol were innocuous! The other ingredients…not so much. The overall rating was ‘4’ so on a scale of 1 (low) - 10 (high) it was a MEDIUM hazard. For those with sensitive skin, it’s probably better to use a product with a maximum rating of ‘2’.

The ingredient with the HIGHEST hazard rating (7) was Propylparaben. EWG notes it is related to: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology.

Petrolatum is related to organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Phenoxyethanol is known for: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), occupational hazards, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), allergies/immunotoxicity.

CeraVé’s product description is, “A compromised skin barrier can lead to dryness and itching—and aggravate skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.” Perhaps they should also note that their moisturizing cream ingredients can CAUSE skin irritation.

Read your labels. Get educated on ingredients in conventional skincare products. Avoid them!