Ceramides form a protective barrier that plumps the skin and retains moisture; they're essential for radiant, healthy skin. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Like hyaluronic acid and squalene, another powerhouse for skincare is naturally found in our skin’s protective barrier – ceramides.

These lipid molecules are everyday heroes, helping nourish dry or irritated skin. Because they also form a protective layer and safeguard the skin against environmental stressors, they’re a mainstay in some of the best moisturisers and creams.

We spoke with Dr Einas Mousa, cosmetic dermatologist at Dubai-based Perla Dermatology Clinic, and Dr Yulia Krasnaya, dermatologist at Evolution Aesthetics Clinic, Dubai, about ceramides’ role in skincare, and how best to incorporate it into our daily regimen. Scroll down to read what they said.

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1. Best Overall: CeraVe Moisturising Cream 

If you’re looking for an everyday moisturiser that’s rich in ceramides, look no further. CeraVe’s moisturising cream is formulated with three essential ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II), and has the added advantage of hyaluronic acid for 24-hour hydration, without any greasy residue. Dr Krasnaya recommends this moisturiser, saying: “[It] is known for its ceramide-packed formula that helps restore and maintain the skin barrier.” It can be used on both the face and the body, and is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. Reviewers love its velvety texture, and the fact that it’s gentle on the skin.

2. Best Hydration: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream 

Dr Krasnaya recommends Dr. Jart’s popular ceramide cream, which she says is “renowned for its ceramide complex that provides deep hydration and strengthens the skin's natural defenses”. This K-beauty formula is powered by multiple ceramides that mimic the fatty acids naturally found in the skin. Combined with panthenol, which improves water retention and reinforces the skin barrier, the cream is soft, nourishing, and can be used on all skin types. Reviewers with dry skin, especially, rave about the effectiveness of this cream, with many saying they use it under make-up as the perfect hydrating primer.

3. Best Anti-Ageing: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 

While it’s definitely not cheap, the award-winning SkinCeuticals’ Triple Lipid Restore cream is definitely worth its price tag, many reviewers say. The moisturising cream both repairs skin and has a plumping effect, with a formula that comprises two per cent ceramides, four per cent cholesterol and two per cent fatty acids. The cream effectively refills skin lipids, while hydrating and improving the skin’s barrier function, leading to reduced signs of ageing, such as minimised pores, and firmer, smoother, more radiant skin. You can use this moisturiser twice a day.

4. Best for Dry Skin: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream 

If you have dry skin, you likely want a thick, heavy moisturiser: Lala Retro Whipped Cream does the trick. It contains three kinds of ceramides – AP, EOP and NP – along with a blend of African oils and a plant-derived lipid for triple the moisture. Thermal water also restores alleviating and anti-irritating properties. Reviewers love the texture of the moisturiser – since it’s whipped, it has an airy, light consistency but still goes on thick. Some caution that it takes a while to fully absorb into the skin, but a little goes a long way so it’s best to apply a small amount.

5. Best for Oily Skin: belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb 

This gel cream is perfect for people with oily skin, or for those looking for a lightweight moisturiser for humid summer days. It goes on smoothly, and has a cooling effect on the skin, leaving it feeling hydrated and feeling fresh. The formula comprises both ceramides and squalene, which help prevent moisture loss. A blend of apothecary herbs, including lady’s mantle, which is rich in antioxidants, help neutralise skin-damaging free radicals and improve elasticity. Some reviewers, who followed the brand’s advice of storing the cream in the refrigerator, report a supercooling sensation upon application that’s ideal for warm weather.

6. Best with SPF: La Roche-Posay Toleraine Double Repair UV Moisturiser 

Although daily sunscreen is a must, La Roche-Posay’s ceramide moisturiser with added sun protection factor (SPF) is a good way to simplify your morning routine. The SPF 30 is ideal for everyday use, and reviewers say its light consistency makes for an excellent base layer under make-up. A blend of ceramide NP, niacinamide and glycerin work to increase hydration, and leave the skin feeling smoother and more supple. Since it’s free of oils, parabens and added fragrances, it’s a good option for people with sensitive skin, too.

7. Best Eye Cream: Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide Firming Eye Cream 

With a concentrated blend of five replenishing ceramides, this eye cream by Paula’s Choice visibly smooths under-eye wrinkles and restores the skin’s resilience. It also includes four forms of brightening vitamin C, two peptides and anti-ageing retinol to fight fine lines and produce firmer, even-toned skin. Reviewers say the product is rich and creamy, but manages to still feel lightweight. Others say it’s extremely hydrating, and offers a great base for make-up.

8. Best Skin Barrier Strengthener: Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid Peptide Face Cream 

A moisturiser that has it all, Skinfix’s Barrier+ is formulated with humectants like glycerin and seaweed sodium hyaluronate, squalene, jojoba oil and macadamia seed oils, among other powerhouse ingredients. A hydrating triple lipid complex helps restore ceramide and fatty acid levels, while a peptide blend – which is a great, non-irritating alternative to retinol for boosting collagen production – supports and strengthens the skin barrier. Reviewers say it’s incredibly moisturising, with a creamy, pudding consistency that feels like a hydration boost.

Ceramides and their benefits in skincare

While ceramides naturally occur in our bodies, they tend to deplete over time, which is why it's worth supplementing it through skincare products. Image Credit: Pexels/Shkraba Anthony

As fatty acids, ceramides act as building blocks; they hold skin cells together on the top layer and form a protective barrier that plumps the skin and retains moisture.

Dr Krasnaya gave us a snapshot of their key functions: “Ceramides are a type of lipid molecule naturally found in the skin's outermost layer, known as the stratum corneum. They play a crucial role in maintaining the skin's barrier function, helping to retain moisture and protect against external irritants. One of their key benefits in skincare is their ability to strengthen the skin barrier, which can improve hydration, reduce moisture loss, and enhance overall skin health.”

While ceramides naturally occur in our bodies, they tend to deplete over time, due to various factors such as ageing, environmental stressors, harsh skincare products, and certain medical conditions.

Dr Mousa said: “To prevent this depletion, it's important to use skincare products that support ceramide replenishment and to avoid harsh ingredients that can strip the skin of its natural oils. It is also important to use ceramide-based skincare products when undergoing treatments such as Morpheus8 (a minimally invasive bipolar radiofrequency tissue treatment) to ensure the treated skin remains hydrated, plump and smooth.”

How to use ceramide-based skincare

Fortunately, ceramide is a key ingredient in a host of skincare products – from moisturisers to serums – that you can find in beauty aisles.

One of its biggest draws is that it is generally suitable for all skin types. But Dr Krasnaya cautions: “Individuals with specific skin concerns or conditions should consult with a dermatologist before incorporating ceramide products into their routine.”

Application of ceramide-rich products is pretty straightforward, according to Dr Mousa. He said: “These products can be applied after cleansing and toning, both in the morning and evening, to help reinforce the skin barrier and improve moisture retention.”

Ceramides are also important when undergoing microneedling treatments. Dr Mousa added: “This addition can boost the overall outcome by ensuring the skin’s surface matches the health of its deeper layers. Ceramides and Morpheus8 complement each other in supporting natural collagen, but through different methods. While Morpheus8 stimulates collagen production through controlled injuries, ceramides play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy skin environment that optimises collagen function.”

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