Shoppers Rely on These $13 and $54 Moisturizers for Plumper, Younger-Looking Skin, but Which Is Best?

We compare the wildly popular, editor-loved formulas from CeraVe and Tula side by side.

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Save vs Splurge
Courtesy of Tula / CeraVe.

Years ago when I was new to beauty writing, the ingredients label on the back of every product read like a made-up language. I committed to learning everything I could about beauty ingredients, starting with the ones I saw most often. Since dewy, plump skin was in the beginning stages of becoming the “must-have” look at the time, I consequently dove into the world of moisturizers and serums, learning everything I could about water-retaining molecules and skin-softening emollients that come with endless benefits for not only dry,  mature complexions, but oily and combination skin types, too. 

As in the case of most beauty trends, not all face creams labeled “hydrating” are made equal, and even the best of the best aren’t right for every skin type. Of course, shoppers also need to consider price. For example, the $54 Tula 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day and Night Cream is beloved by shoppers and editors alike. In contrast, the $13 CeraVe Daily Moisturizer has more than 77,000 perfect Amazon ratings, a number that clearly speaks for itself. We’ve compared these two extremely popular moisturizers side by side to help you decide whether to save or splurge.

Save: CeraVe Daily Moisturizer

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion


Buy It: from $13,

Key Features:

Main Ingredient: Hyaluronic acid is a tiny molecule that can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, according to studies. When applied topically, it has an immediate plumping effect on skin, which in turn can minimize wrinkles and sagging.

Other Ingredients: Ceramides help your skin to retain moisture by strengthening your skin barrier (aka the layers of flattened cells that protect you from bacteria and irritants). Meanwhile, glycerin, another hydrator, softens skin by attracting moisture from the air. 

Best for: People with all skin types. This is an especially good pick for those with oily, acne-prone skin because all of the ingredients are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. 

What We Love:

Growing up, everyone from my mom to my swim coach recommended CeraVe products for acne, and the reputation of its products (particularly this best-selling moisturizer) have stood the test of time. The ingredients in this lightweight cream are simple and common, but still super effective for achieving soft, healthy, and youthful looking skin. “I tan a lot, and this keeps my wrinkles at bay,” wrote one reviewer.  A fellow shopper in their 70s dubbed it “fabulous” for brightening their complexion. While these anti-aging effects are a huge plus, the major draw of this cream is that, unlike many expensive lotions, it's free of fragrance and oils, making it an excellent pick for sensitive, blemish-prone complexion types.

Keep in Mind:

Anyone incorporating hyaluronic acid into their skin-care routine should be aware that, if applied to a completely dry face, the molecule can have the opposite of its desired effect, pulling water from your skin into the atmosphere and leaving it dryer than it was before. To avoid this, apply this cream while your face is slightly damp, like right after a shower.

Splurge: Tula 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day and Night Cream

Tula hydrating day & night cream


Buy It: $54, 

Key Features:

Main Ingredient: Squalane softens and seals moisture into skin, and contains antioxidant properties that combat dullness and dryness. 

Other Ingredients: Topically applying probiotics can revitalize your skin barrier and defend against acne and dehydration. Fellow powerhouse ingredients, peptides, give your skin a smoother texture and firmer appearance. 

Best for: Shoppers with dry and maturing skin looking to manage fine lines and wrinkles. 

What We Love:

This cream has been Tula’s best-seller for years, and with good reason. Probiotics and prebiotics (a rarer but increasingly more common component of skincare) come with dozens of benefits, including brighter skin, better water retention, and reduced acne. Plus, main ingredient squalane is a moisturizing hero all on its own. “[It] has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and it's also non-comedogenic," dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D. previously told Shape. Best of all, shoppers say this moisturizer lives up to its promises. “I am so happy with this face cream,” wrote one shopper over the age of 45, who said they feel that they look “10 years younger” and “don’t have to wear makeup.” Another agreed that it’s “smoothing, firming, and plumping.”

Keep in Mind:

This cream contains fragrance, which can be irritating to those with sensitive skin. 

In Conclusion:

The difference between these moisturizers isn’t just their price, but also the skin types they benefit the most. Tula’s $54 formula, for example, contains ingredients that have been shown to make a lasting impact on sagging skin and fine lines caused by dryness. Although hyaluronic acid, the main ingredient in CeraVe’s $13 formula, will immediately plump and diminish wrinkles, the effects are short term. However, anyone looking for a simple, effective moisturizer that both hydrates and moisturizes their face will find everything they need in the CeraVe Daily Moisturizer.

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