A dermatologist says you should be using products that contain ‘ceramides’ to properly moisturize your skin. Here’s what that means.

Ceramides help to repair the skin barrier.

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Ceramides help to repair the skin barrier.
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EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / Getty

  • Some moisturizers will work better than others because of certain ingredients.
  • One ingredient, ceramides, are naturally found in the skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Moisturizers with ceramides help to repair the skin barrier, as after we hit 30, the levels drop 10-15% every 10 years.
  • Other ingredients, like humectants, draw water from the lower layers to the skin to the upper layers.

It’s a challenge to keep dry skin replenished. We’re told to moisturize, drink plenty of water, use facemasks, and buy products that contain a whole range of chemicals we’ve never heard of.

But according to skin experts, there’s a specific component in moisturizer you should look for – ceramides.

Celebrity beauty therapist and skincare expert Debbie Thomas told the Telegraph that ceramides make up about half of the skin’s moisture barrier, but when we hit 30, the levels drop 10-15% every 10 years.

Read more: A grooming expert explains why men need to stop the common habit of using body wash on their face

Kathleen Cook Suozzi, a dermatologist at the Yale School of Medicine, told INSIDER that the top layer of the skin is called the stratum corneum, which has a “brick and mortar” structure.

“The bricks are the protein component made from the mature skin cells and the mortar is composed of lipids, of which ceramides are a key molecule,” she said. “This brick and mortar structure forms the skin barrier, which is critical for preventing loss of moisture from the skin, called transepidermal water loss.”

When ceramides are added to moisturizers, she said, this helps to repair the skin barrier.

“‘Moisturizer’ is a non-specific term,” she said. “A product is considered a moisturizer if it helps promote skin hydration. This can occur by repairing the skin’s own barrier function or by helping to draw water into the skin.”

While ceramides can repair skin, ingredients with a humectant property draw water from the dermis (lower layers) to the epidermis (upper layers), which increases the water content and thus the hydration of the skin’s surface. Some examples of humectants are glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which you probably see listed on many moisturizers you buy.

“When selecting a moisturizer, it is important to consider the ‘vehicle,'” said Suozzi.

For instance, ointment vehicles are oily and occlusive, meaning applying them can trap water in like a barrier, but as they sit on the skin they can also leave a greasy feel.

Creams vary depending on if they are emulsions of water in oil or oil in water, Suozzi said, while lotions have a thinner, less greasy feel, but aren’t as moisturizing to the skin.

Some products that include ceramides are First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, which INSIDER Picks named the best face cream for sensitive skin, Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream that can be used for all skin types, and Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream, which the INSIDER Picks team called “a godsend for dry, sensitive complexions.”