What type of look would you like to create?
This will help us personalize your experience.

Here’s Why Ceramides Are The Secret To Gorgeous Skin

Photo by Luminola/Getty Images

It’s a fact: Healthy, glowy skin just makes us happy. Also a fact: Yes, it’s absolutely achievable. By now you may feel like you’ve tried everything under the sun in your pursuit of dewy, radiant, makeup-optional skin. Vitamin c-packed serums, hyaluronic acid-based moisturizers, exfoliating acids, and scrubs are all skin savers we love. But when it comes to finding one product that does-it-all, do you sometimes wish you had a derm on speed dial to help sift through the endless options? Better yet, how amazing would it be to cut down your summer skincare routine to one lightweight, non-greasy, results-driven product? Besides your SPF, of course!

Enter: Ceramides. These tiny fat molecules (a.k.a. lipids) have a big job to do. They’re responsible for keeping your skin soft, safe from the environment, and moisturized on their own. “Ceramides seal in moisture, creating a barrier between your skin and external aggressors like pollution, bacteria, and environmental assailants,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. They’re like built-in bodyguards for your skin. That’s right, your skin already produces ceramides. So why add them to your skincare if you’ve already got 'em’? Here’s the breakdown on why and how ceramides should be the super-star ingredient of your skincare routine. 

About the Experts: 
Shari Marchbein, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City.

So what exactly are ceramides?

Here’s a pretty clear visual served up by dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD. “When you think about your skin, think about the top layer as bricks and mortar. The bricks are the keratinocytes (which are part of the outermost protective layer of skin) and the mortar is the glue holding your skin cells together. One of the components of this glue is ceramides,” says Dr. Marchbein. In a nutshell, ceramides help create a protective skin barrier to keep moisture locked in and the bad stuff (like bacteria and dirt) out. 

Wonderful! Why add extra ceramides to our skincare, then?

“As we age, ceramide levels in our skin naturally deplete, which often leads to dry, less plump, and less hydrated skin,” according to Dr. Marchbein. Incorporating ceramides into your skincare can help bump up your ceramide levels over time as they drop to help keep skin hydrated, protected, and healthy. Even better, they help treat signs of aging. “Ceramides create a plumping effect, which minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” according to Dr. Engelman.  

How do ceramides benefit our skin? Let’s do a deep dive.

They boost your glow.

Hydrated skin looks glowier, healthier, and more vibrant. Ceramides help amp up your skin’s radiance by locking in hydration and moisture (a result of having a strong, ceramide-backed skin barrier). Consider them a constant drink of water for your skin. “If the outermost layer of your skin’s epidermis (aka the stratum corneum) doesn’t contain enough water, your skin will lose elasticity and appear dry and rough,” says Dr. Marchbein. Tight, dry, dull skin? No thanks. Plumped up, glowing skin? Yes, please! 

They protect skin year-round. 

Whether you’re in a windy city or hot climate, you need fatty ceramides to protect your skin from absorbing pollution and losing moisture. From dry hot summers to cold climates that call for extra long hot showers, ceramides provide a constant protective layer against the elements without being too heavy or too light-handed. Dr. Marchbein recommends using moisturizers with ceramides to help keep your skin protected, no matter what climate you live in. We’ve got some ceramide-packed products you’ll love coming up. 

They help solve dry skin problems. 

Eczema, psoriasis, super sensitive skin, dry skin—if you’re dealing with any of these skin conditions, ceramides can majorly help. “Moisturizers with ceramides can help replace those stripped away in dry skin. Use a gentle cleanser to avoid moisture loss from stripping soaps, take short showers, and apply a ceramide cream or lotion within 60-seconds of showering,” recommends Dr. Marchbein.

They complement acne treatments. 

Acne treatments are great for keeping breakouts at bay, but it’s a known fact that they can make your skin super-sensitive while they work. Acne-prone skin tends to already have decreased ceramide protection. Plus, products like retinoids can especially dry out your skin.  “I recommend ceramide moisturizers for those with acne-prone skin or those who are on acne routines to enhance tolerability,” says Dr. Marchbein. 

They’re TLC for all skin types.

Fun fact: Ceramides are a universal skin-saving ingredient. Yup, they’re recommended for all skin types—dry, oily, combination, acne-prone—you name it! And because they’re naturally occurring, your skin already knows and loves ceramides, so adding them into your skincare routine is like welcoming them home. 

5 Ceramide-Packed Products To Try Now

The best part about ceramides? They’re super easy to incorporate into your skincare routine. Here are some of our faves:

1. IT COSMETICS Confidence In A Cleanser

IT COSMETICS Confidence In A Cleanser

This ceramide-packed cleanser works double-duty as a cleanser and makeup remover that won’t leave your skin feeling stripped or dry. It’s also made with collagen and hyaluronic acid to help plump, smooth, and lock in hydration.

2. TATCHA The Dewy Skin Cream 

TATCHA The Dewy Skin Cream

Want to majorly up your skin’s dew factor? This good-for-skin cream is packed with ceramides to reinforce your skin’s protective barrier and trap moisture deep within. It’s got a luxurious feel and is ideal for dry, dull skin in need of some extra moisturizing love.

3. SUNDAY RILEY Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream 

SUNDAY RILEY Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream

This dual-action cream infuses skin with hydration and strengthens its protective barrier for a dewy glow all day. Ceramides in it along with a cocktail of plant-based super-hydrators, including beetroot and pomegranate extracts, quench thirsty skin while loading it up with essential vitamins and minerals.

4. KATE SOMERVILLE Kx Active Concentrates Ceramides + Omegas Serum

KATE SOMERVILLE Kx Active Concentrates Ceramides + Omegas Serum

This healthy serum will hydrate, nourish, and protect your skin with (you guessed it— ceramides!) plus omega-rich fatty acids, soothing fruit extracts, and more. Why love it? Serums are made of tiny molecules that help deliver ingredients deep into your pores, so they’ll really pack a punch!

5. THEN I MET YOU Calming Tide Gel Cream

THEN I MET YOU Calming Tide Gel Cream

Consider this your new summer skin fling! This super lightweight, fast-absorbing gel delivers all the hydration without the heaviness. It’s packed with ceramides, niacinamide, and peptides to plump up your skin, lock in moisture and boost radiance. 

Want the scoop on more good-for-skin ingredients? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

Like this article? Share it with your friends by clicking the icons below! 

About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
Share Article
Article Last Updated June 5, 2021 12:00 AM