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Why Ceramides Are a Must in Your Skin Care Routine

Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Cream

If you’ve been paying close attention to what’s in your skin care products, then you’ve probably noticed that ceramides are often listed as one of the main ingredients found in your favorite moisturizers, body lotions, serums and cleansers. But what exactly are ceramides and how do these skin care heroes save your skin one concern at a time?

What Are Ceramides

Naturally found in high concentrations in the outermost layer of the skin, ceramides are waxy lipids or fats that form a part of the skin barrier. “They make up over 50 percent of the skin’s oil composition. Ceramides are composed of sphingosine and fatty acid. They are found in high concentration in cell membranes, as part of the lipid bilayer. In the skin, ceramides are some of the fatty component of sebum or skin oils that we secrete,” explains California board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche, founder of Bella Skin Institute.

How Ceramides Benefit Skin

As the skin’s natural moisturizer, ceramides aid in preserving the skin by creating a protective layer that helps prevent the loss of moisture and shields the skin from environmental aggressors. They play an essential role in keeping dryness, dehydration and premature signs of aging at bay. “Ceramides act as linkers between epidermal skin cells—akin to the cement between bricks in a wall—to help seal up the skin barrier, to protect the deeper layers and to prevent moisture loss,” explains board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse.

However, constant exposure to pollution, sun damage and the natural aging process can reduce the production of ceramides over time and affect the way they function in your skin. “Without ceramides, the skin would become dry and cracked. That, in turn, will expose inner layers of skin to various toxins and allergens from the environment, making it inflamed and itchy,” adds board-certified dermatologist Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, editor at

Because ceramides are naturally found in your skin, they are safe for every skin type, especially those dealing with skin concerns that are aggravated by dryness. “Ceramides are great for addressing dry, flaky or ‘broken’ skin and managing eczema,” says Dr. Shainhouse. They are particularly beneficial for patients with atopic dermatitis who have a genetic defect in the skin molecule filaggrin and leads to a deficiency in ceramides. “Applying topical ceramides can help ‘fill in the cracks’ between the epidermal cells to create a smooth, more complete protective skin barrier, to help prevent moisture loss and minimize skin irritation from outside agents,” adds Dr. Shainhouse.

Ceramides in Your Skin Care Products

Topical ceramides mimic the natural oils in your skin, which makes them “effective when combined with other moisturizing ingredients, such as fatty acids, cholesterol, hyaluronic acid and glycerin,” says Dr. Guanche. “You will often see some of these already combined together in various topical moisturizers,” she notes.

“Most, if not all, skin care ingredients can work well with ceramides, as they are neither acidic nor basic and will not degrade other ingredients,” echoes Dr. Shainhouse. “As a moisturizer, they can help seal in humectant ingredients and can even be layered underneath greasier ointments to smooth and seal the skin barrier, while the ointments provide a waterproof top layer,” she adds.

As an anti-aging ingredient, ceramides also work well with other powerhouses such as retinols and acids, says Dr. Shainhouse. “[Ceramides] can soothe skin and prevent the disruption of the skin barrier, which can be a side effect of these agents,” she explains. “These combinations may even help the effectiveness of ceramides if the top layer of skin is exfoliated so they can better penetrate the skin. Retinoids and actives should be applied first, then ‘sealed in’ with ceramides,” explains Dr. Guanche.

Best Skin Care Products with Ceramides

If you’re looking to reap the skin care benefits of ceramides, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up the best skin care products formulated with ceramides for all your needs, below.

  1. 1. NEW! Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
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    1. NEW! Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream

    This lightweight yet ultra-moisturizing cream delivers long-lasting hydration and helps reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier, beefing up its defenses against external stressors like UV damage and pollution. Best for normal-to-dry skin, it harnesses the moisturizing properties of beetroot and coconut extracts while ceramides, vitamin F and pomegranate sterols strengthen the skin’s barrier and seal in moisture.

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. 2. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
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    2. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

    Some products that come with a lot of noise often prove to be just that—all noise, no real results. But this anti-aging treatment continues to prove that it can definitely walk the walk. Infused with essential lipids, vitamin E and essential oils, it not only keeps fine lines and wrinkles at bay but also restores moisture, quenches free radicals and evens out texture. Best for mature and dry skin types, it improves the skin’s elasticity, moisture and radiance—leaving it smoother and younger-looking.

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  3. 3. SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream
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    3. SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream

    Your post-procedure skin care can either make or break your skin, so making sure you have the right products to get you through your skin’s recovery process is a must. Infused with palmitoyl oligopeptide, tetrapetide-7, vitamin A and TNS® growth factor, this cream helps soothe and restore excessively dry, damaged or compromised skin while encouraging collagen production, sealing in moisture and boosting hydration.

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  4. 4. PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum
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    4. PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum

    This ultra-moisturizing face serum may just be the game-changer your skin is looking for. With its potent skin-perfecting formula that blends ceramides, niacinamide and a proprietary hyaluronic acid complex, it repairs and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier, plumps away fine lines and delivers up to 24 hours of hydration.

    Buy now with free delivery
  5. 5. Epionce Renewal Enriched Body Lotion
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    5. Epionce Renewal Enriched Body Lotion

    Dry and dehydrated skin is one of the main causes of premature signs of aging, which is why this nourishing body moisturizer is a must in your skin care arsenal. Enriched with ceramides and essential fatty acids, it repairs and protects against visible signs of aging while targeting chronically dry areas like elbows, knees and heels. It also features antioxidants from meadowfoam and flax extracts that help strengthen the skin’s natural lipid barrier, quench free radicals and soothe inflammation.

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  6. 6. Paula's Choice CLINICAL Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream
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    6. Paula's Choice CLINICAL Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream

    Aside from being the thinnest and most delicate, the skin under your eyes also tends to be drier than the rest of your face. Fortunately, this moisturizing eye cream—infused with ceramides, retinol, vitamin C and peptides—comes with all the right ingredients to keep your eye area brighter and more youthful-looking. Its powerful formula improves hydration and brightens dark circles and discoloration while addressing fine lines and loss of firmness.

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  7. 7. La Roche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Soap Free Cleanser
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    7. La Roche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Soap Free Cleanser

    Cleansing is the first and most crucial step to achieving healthier skin and what better way to do it than with this milky cleanser. Infused with ceramide-3, glycerin, niacinamide and La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water, it gently washes away makeup, dirt and other surface impurities while restoring your skin’s pH balance and natural moisture.

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Beauty Reporter

Janeca Racho

With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for a good pair of hiking shoes and skip hotels to camp under the stars. She loves horror movies, googling ingredients in her beauty products and backpacking trips with her toddler. Her newfound obsession: nude lipstick.