The CeraVe brand was launched in 2005, targeted for sensitive, dry skin. You may be familiar with CeraVe from its soap-free cleanser and moisturizing body lotions. The brand expanded its product offering in 2011 with the launch of two facial lotions, including CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion PM ($12.99). CeraVe PM is a nighttime facial lotion that has a rather elegant formulation for a drugstore brand. It contains several hydrating ingredients, including ceramides and hyaluronic acid, along with the multi-tasking niacinamide.

CeraVe has a patented, controlled release delivery system. While not novel (MD Forté has a similar mechanism), it’s notable to see in a mass-market brand. CeraVe claims that conventional moisturizers require frequent application as the ingredients are released in a single “burst” and absorbed by skin in a short period of time. CeraVe’s patented MVE (multivesicular emulsion) technology is a two-phase system, whereby several layers of sphere-encased active ingredients are slowly released. These layers are structurally similar to the elaborate organization of lipids in the epidermis or skin’s outermost layer. The spheres allow for quick absorption and efficient penetration of ingredients. This type of delivery mechanism offers longer-lasting skin moisturizing effects. A study of MVE in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, demonstrated MVE technology to be effective in reinforcing the skin’s natural barrier function.

CeraVe’s formula includes a hefty dose of niacinamide (also found in Osmosis Replenish). Niacinamide has created quite a buzz in the anti-aging arena and is popping up quite a bit. The ingredient is actually a form of vitamin B3 and possesses several skin beneficial properties when applied topically. Niacinamide has been clinically proven to boost the skin’s natural production of ceramides and essential fatty acids. Both play an essential role in retaining water in the skin. Niacinamide is also known to decrease hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanosome transfer. Melanosomes are the pigment granules that actually produce melanin found in the outer layer of skin. Further, niacinamide stimulates microcirculation, which decreases with age and hormonal changes. There is evidence that niacinamide may be effective for skin lightening and studies have shown that niacinamide may help to alleviate rosacea. While there is some controversy as to what niacinamide can and cannot be combined with, CeraVe’s moisturizer is intended to be used as a stand-alone product.

While the CeraVe product is formulated to be a light lotion, it is has several excellent emollients to prevent and heal dry skin. This is important as healthy skin is made of about 30% water. Along with niacinamide, the formula includes three types of stand-alone ceramides including ceramides 1 and 3, which work synergistically to hydrate skin. There is also hyaluronic acid, which brings water up to the top layer of the skin and ensures that it remains hydrated. Despite containing several emollients, CeraVe is non-comedogenic as well as fragrance free.

Aside from a couple of parabens that I don’t love, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion PM is a well formulated, lightweight moisturizer that can be used nightly by anyone with dry skin or eczema and psoriasis (it is accepted by the National Eczema Association). For the price of the moisturizing lotion, you receive several effective, hydrating ingredients along with an advanced delivery technology. Moreover, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion PM was the winner for best night cream for dry skin in In Style’s 2011 Best Beauty Buys. CeraVe is currently only available in the U.S.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Niacinamide, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum