What are ceramides and how do they work in your skincare?

Everything you need to know about ceramides and the benefits of using them in your skincare routine

From above closeup pipette placed on beige background and spilling transparent serum
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Get the 101 on ceramides in this Skincare 101—our comprehensive skincare dictionary of every ingredient that you need to know about.

Ceramides are a very popular ingredient in skincare products today—but do you know what they are, how they work and exactly why you should be using them?

A good skincare routine will be made up of a variety of products designed to help maintain your skin’s health, clarity, firmness and softness. The right skincare routine order is critical to maintaining its appearance and how well it responds to external threats in the surrounding environment.

Knowing what ingredients are in your skincare products and how you can use them to help protect your skin can improve both your skin regime and the resulting appearance. Here’s what you need to know about how can ceramides benefit the skin. 

What are ceramides?

These lipid molecules are already present in our skin. “Ceramides are the naturally occurring fats that make up a very large portion of the skin,” explains Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, aka Dr Fab, skin expert and ambassador for The INKEY List (opens in new tab). “They hold the skin cells together providing support and structure to the skin.

Ceramides can actually make up as much as 50% of our skin's composition and are integral to its functioning. "They also help to keep it supple by preventing water loss and contributing to the skin’s protective barrier function," Dr Fab adds.

How do ceramides work in skincare?

Essentially, ceramides help to form a protective barrier around your skin to prevent moisture loss and help to keep out any unwanted environmental nasties.

Like the best retinol serums, ceramides also make for an excellent anti-aging ingredient that help to keep your skin moisturized, elastic and plump, which are all important elements of your skin's natural health and appearance. 

“Certain environmental insults and the natural ageing process can lead to a reduction of the levels of ceramides in your skin, predisposing you to blemish-prone skin," explains Dr Fab. "It is therefore important to replenish the levels of ceramides in your skin by adding in this ingredient into your skincare routine.”

How to use ceramides in your skincare routine

The good news is that ceramides are generally suitable for all skin types and conditions. So if you're looking for a product that contains them to help support your skin, these days it’s pretty easy to find these hardworking formulas.

Should a skincare product contain ceramides, you'll usually find it splashed across the packaging, but you can also check the ingredients label for their inclusion—or shop a few of our favourite brands below. 

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

RRP: From $11.99/£9 for 177ml

One of the best moisturizers for dry skin (opens in new tab), this fuss-free moisturiser is perfect for dry skin that needs some love.

The dermatologist-loved CeraVe Moisturizing Cream contains three essential ceramides to support the skin barrier and can be used on both the face and the body. 


The INKEY List Ceramide Night Treatment

RRP: $14.99/£14.99 for 30ml

Ceramides sit alongside a 2.5% concentration of hydrating hyaluronic acid in The INKEY List's nighttime serum, helping your skin to retain moisture.


Paula's Choice Ceramide Enriched Firming Eye Cream

RRP: $49/£43 for 15ml

As well as five different types of "skin-identical" ceramides, this anti-ageing eye cream contains vitamin C (opens in new tab) to brighten and retinol to help improve visible wrinkles in the skin. 


To really reap the benefits in your skincare routine, try looking for ceramides in your daily serums or moisturizer—it’s these leave-on formulas that are going to have the biggest benefit in the deeper layers of your skin and in its barrier function. And you could even combine it with your best hyaluronic acid serum.

If you want a plumper, better-moisturiser and healthier-looking complexion, you can't really go wrong with ceramides. Add them to your skincare routine ASAP and we're positive you'll be seeing the benefits in your skin with time.

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