What do they do?
Maintain skin barrier function
Protect from irritation
Maintain skin hydration

Key benefits
Improve skin hydration
Protect the skin from irritation

How do I use them?
Use twice daily – exactly when depends on the type of product you’re using (see below)

Evidence rating



Ceramides are appearing more and more in skincare products, which is fantastic, as they’re great for the skin. So what exactly are they, and should you be using them?

What are ceramides, and what do they do?

Ceramides are lipids (fats) that are naturally found in the top layer of the skin. They’re important for maintaining the skin’s barrier function – in simple terms, keeping good things (like moisture) in the skin, and keeping things that can irritate the skin out. This helps protect the skin from irritation, and reduces moisture loss through the skin, keeping it hydrated.

Why should I use them?

As we age, ceramide production reduces, resulting in dryer, more sensitive skin. Using products which contain ceramides helps to improve skin hydration and skin barrier function, making the skin less sensitive and prone to irritation. In addition, lower ceramide levels are found in certain skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis and psoriasis, so using products containing ceramides can help manage these conditions. 

How do I use them?

Ceramides are generally very safe and well tolerated. A good place to start is to look for a moisturiser that contains ceramides, and use it twice daily. Ceramides can also be found in some cleansers, and in combination with other active ingredients in serums. Always use your cleanser first, then your toner and/or serum, followed by your moisturiser (and sunscreen in the morning).

Meckfessel MH, Brandt S. The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Jul;71(1):177-84.

Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s own natural moisturizing systems. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:491-497.


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Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…