Are Ceramides the Key to Beautiful Skin?

I get frequent questions about individual anti-aging  ingredients. Can it REALLY reverse aging?  Is it natural?  Dangerous?   Last time, I reviewed idebone, a powerful antioxidant.  Today I’m evaluating ceramides.  I’ve seen it advertised  on a number of products and  thought it was finally  time to do a little research.

Here’s how it works: The cells of the top layer of the skin are held in place by fatty ceramides, a substance  which kind of acts like glue to keep the cells in order.  In addition ceramides hold onto water  molecules,  helping to attract and retain moisture in the skin.  And it will probably come as no great surprise that ceramide levels decrease as we get  older.  By age 60, we  have lost so much ceramide that the upper layer of the skin is 30% thinner.

Ceramides are used  lotions, creams and cleansers formulated primarily for dry skin, but there is some debate about how effective it actually is.  Conventional wisdom holds that it is very difficult for ingredients like ceramide to travel through the layers of the skin.    However  new research indicates that substances can travel down  the hair follicles and pores to reach the growing levels of skin  and make a diffference in  the health of skin cells. 

Loss of ceramides  is just one of the age related changes that occur to our skin– so  this ingredient  can’t do all the heavy lifting in anti-aging skin  care. However if dry skin is  constant problem a ceramide-rich product  can work effectively.

Ceramides are  expensive ingrediets and are usually found in higher end lines such as Elizabeth Arden Ultra Cold ( $60)  and Elizabeth Plump Perfect Ultra Night Repair ($65).  Now they are  also used in the very affordable line of CereVe products that includes CereVe Facial Moisturing Lotion PM and CereVe Daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ( $12 for 3 ounces). 

Dry skin was not a daily problem  for me until I started using Retin A products.  Then flaking  and redness became a real issue. I was  standing in a drugstore looking for something, anything that would help when two separate women asked the sales person for CereVe.  Curious, I saw that it was fragrance-free, did not clog  pores and contained one of my all time favorite moisturizing ingredients– hyaluronic acid.  I didn’t know what ceramides were, but the other ingredients made it worth a try.  That night I  smoothed CereVe over my Retin A treated skin and  by morning, my skin felt better than it had in months.  I went back and bought the  daytime product  with sunscreen and now  use  both frequently in  by day and night routines.  I don’t know if its the ceremides or the hyaluronic acid, or maybe  the combintion of the two, but  CereVe products really delivered for me.   

If you have tried other ceramide products, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

50 thoughts on “Are Ceramides the Key to Beautiful Skin?

      • They ( have a very detailed ingredients list on their website. I checked out the Moisturizing Lotion and the PM lotion and the cleanser. They have two parabens listed in each.

        I personally have had very bad experiences with anything with parabens in it (also another chemical preservative often found in lotions etc called Diazalydinal Urea (sp?)) There seems to be some argument still happening about the toxicity of parabens, but for me they have proved highly toxic and hugely problematic. I was told to use Cerave by a Derm once when I went to him because my eye area (lids and under) developed this horrible rash. (oozing, itching, bright red, swollen) He told me to use this brand because in his ignorance he told me it was excema. It turned out (after a traumatic 3 months) and 2 other doctors later, that I had developed (due to consistent use of parabens etc over many years) an allergic reaction to parabens…they build up apparently…and sometimes in combination with other preservatives they can kick off this kind of reaction. Arrghh!

        So now, I’ve been much happier and feeling and looking so much better when I research a little and never use anything with parabens or the urea preservative…its a formaldehyde releaser apparently! (nice, huh?!)

          • I use both the CerVe AM and CeraVe PM facial moisturizers that are packed with skin friendly ceramides. Other good drugstore ceramide rich products are offered by Curel and Euercin. Its just the ceramide supplement which I don’t recommend because there is no evidence that they work.

  1. The Cerave moisturizing lotion is the best I have ever used, and believe me I have tried a lot. It moisturizes and soaks in without leaving any greasy feeling so I can use it after bath and before I go to bed. It does contain parabens which I do not like. I have also used the Cerave pm and like that also. I do with it did not contain parabens and have considered writing to the company, but it does what I need it to do.

    • I’m so glad that you found CereVe as helpful as I did. I know there are concerns about parabens and I count it as a plus if a product is paraben free. However when a product hits all the factors that I am looking for, parabens are not a deal breaker for me. Writing to CereVe about the issue is a great idea. Let me know how they respond.

      • I love CERAVE for the ceramides! I also love that is contains zinc oxide sunscreen I firmly believe in zinc oxide. My concern is if there’s enough zinc oxide, 3.5%, or should I use a separate higher zinc oxide sunscreen under the moisturizer.

  2. Hi Deb,
    I think you can get Ceramide from eating wheat germ which is much cheaper than commercial cream and better for you because the whole body benefits when ceramide is ingested – full of Vitamin E as well.

  3. I don’t have a problem/reaction with parabens but don’t like them being overused in products when there are natural altenatives. To those who have sensitive skin that IS affected by harsh preservatives etc, why not purchase the “raw ingredient” and combine it with your favourite and skin-friendly moisturister? I only buy cheap creams/lotions etc and add my own active ingredients, or make up a serum or gel with water soluble ingredients. All/most of the ingredients are readily available for purchase to the public. In the UK where I am, Aromantic is a good supplier. Since I travel a lot to the USA where most everything is cheaper, I also found a company called MakingCosmetics and shall be ordering from them on my next trip. The DIY approach is much cheaper, more effective and more skin-friendly.

    Some of the top anti-aging ingredients that aren’t available as cosmetics ingerdients (at least in the UK) or are excessively overpriced on cosmetic ingredients sites can actually be purchased as food supplements in capsule form – the best way in my opinion to purchase CoEnzymeQ10, and yes it does work wonderfully but only as a night treatment because of the yellow/orange colouring.

    If you don’t have sensitive skin and/or don’t want to mess with DIY, then I highly recommend the brand Derma V10 – most of their products are £2-3 (or $3-5) and are highly effective.

    Just for info, I used to be a research scientist and simultaneously ran my own cosmeceuticals company.

  4. Hi I use the Cereve with great success as well. Another that is equally good, has ceramides and recommended by the eczema society of Canada is Cetaphil Restoraderm.It is a little cheaper or around the same price as the Cereve. I started using it for dry skin but now after a year of use of both products I have seen a dramatic slow down of wrinkling in my skin.

  5. I have been using Cerave for only a few days, but boy what a difference in my skin. it was so dry there were white flakes all over my clothes. Now it is soft , supple, and NOT dry!!! It really works and very affordably priced compared to “Beauty” brands.

  6. you can get ceramides in capsule form from Life Extension .. i take them orally and open them up for a deep penetrating mask, it goes on sort of sticky but absorbs in very well with a bit of massaging. i might try adding them to lotions soon.

    helpful if you are avoiding paraben.

  7. I was watching Dr. Oz and one of the derm doctors on the show said to find a mega moisturizer packed with Ceramides and CeraVe is what I found and I love it! I thought I would have some reaction to it as I usually do when I try a new product-not this! I use the am and pm as well! They also said to find a face wash to use only 1x a day with AHA and look for gycolic acids in it as well. This is my new skin regamine for anti aging skin!

    • You are right on track! Did you know that the CeraVe Am also has a sunscreen as well as ceramides. Since up to age 60, 70% of skin aging is due to sun exposure, a sunscreen is an essential part of any anti-aging program. I would suggest using Cetaphil gentle facial cleanser in the AM and use a glycolic wash at night. If your skin tends to be a bit oily, you can use a gentle exfoliator like CLarisonic with the glycolic wash.

      • I had used the Cetaphil but now use Neutrogena healthy skin anti-wrinkle anti-blemish cleanser at night. It has all the ingrediants that the Dr. Oz Derm Dr. had mentioned ( Salicylic Acid, Alpha Hydroxy, Glycolic acid). I use this only at night and it, too, has been great for my skin. My skin tends to be more on the dry side.

  8. I just went to my dermatologist yesterday and she also said they are 3 of her favorite ingredients-Salicylic Acid, Alpha Hydroxy, Glycolic acid. She also thinks tha CeraVe is a great moisturizer. And I too love that the am moisturizer has the spf30…as I tend to get those ugly sunspots on my face-YUCK!

  9. I am 60 and was looking the other day for something to help keep moisture in on my face and bought the CeraVe. just now was looking up the ingredients and was pleases to find this site and all the positive comments. I too like how it makes my skin feel

  10. Hi! Thank you for information about how ceramides work. I’ve been using Elizabeth Arden’s ceramids for about a year. I’ve noticed than at the beginning I needed 2 capsules for face and neck. Skin drunk ceramids so fast! Now I use 1 capsule for face, neck and still I have some for hads.
    I think ceramides really work for skin. It’s not cheep, but you could use it 2-3 times a year for 30 days. One tip: I always buy (or ask my friends) ceramids at duty free shops it’s cheaper.

    • I’m so glad you as big a fan of ceremides as I am. And the duty-free shop tip is awesome! You can also try CereVe products which has both ceremides and hyluronic acid and is available at your local drugstore. It less than $14 a tube.

    • You want to look for ceramides, not ceramics. Its usually proudly listed on the label, often in big letters. CeraVe has a whole line of ceramide rich products.

  11. I have had absolutely amazing results with the Elizabeth Arden ceremide ampules. I had received some samples and at first did not see much results. But I decided to finish out the capsules and low and behold after 30 days, my skin looked amazing. I have suffered for years with broken capillaries on my cheeks and on the side of my nose… Damaged skin. These have greatly faded and in some cases completely disappeared. I do have to continue using the capsules regularly or the tiny red lines come back. It is wonderful to have a healthy, delicate treatment that makes my skin radiate. It is so much better than having dermabrasion or acidic peels. It is pricey but I consider it medicine for my skin.

    • Ceremides are an important substance in our skin and I am so glad it is working so well for you. Another brand of ski care products called CereVe also has ceramides and they are less than $15 a bottle.

  12. I just started using tretinoin (generic for Retin-A) and my skin was flaking and dry and irritated. I tried a sample of the CeraVe in my dermatoligst office and loved it. I bought the AM facial moisturizing lotion and instantly, my face felt smoother and hydrated. Im going to buy the SPF 50 AM and hope that it is just as good as the AM SPF 30. This is by far the best product and Im hooked !

  13. I have sensitive skin, and am over 60. Would the CereVe moisturizers be good to try? Where are they sold? Thank you for your help.

    • It depends on what is causing your sensitive skin. If your skin is very dry, ceramides can be helpful. However if you are sensitive to ingredients in common skin care products or have seborrheic dermatitis, Cereve or any traditional moisturizer may not be that helpful. If you tell me more about your skin, I can give you better advice.

      • I have had enough problems with different products that I know that I have a sensitivity to the ingredients in some of those products, but I don’t know which ingredients. I try to be careful what I use, and use mostly products that are hypoallergenic. But, I also buy products that are not hypoallergenic with a shorter list of ingredients. It is a crap shoot at times. And, sometimes I am sorry that I took a risk…and, back I go to the dermatologist. As I age my skin is becoming more dry. I used to have combo skin.

    • It’s not the ceramides that will clog your pores,it’s the other ingredients. If you have oily skin you don’t need a moisturizer with or without ceramides.

  14. 12 days ago I had CO2 laser procedure…..MixTo Blast. After 1week of aquaphil I was told to use a product Mixto Hydrate….has ceramides in it. Bottle is $150!!! With MixTo in the name this is obviously propriatory. I had never heard of ceramides and researching I luckily found your very informative and well researched blog. THANK YOU!!! I have little faith in the physician who performed the procedure, very poor follow-up and often contradictatory. Instructions were to use this lotion for 30 days, then go to retinoid. I’ve read many bolgs by various physicians and they each seem to have their own ideas about creams/time frame, etc. Questions to you. I’m 72 with oily skin. Large pores on nose. Should I use ceramides….if so, the Cere Ve brand and Derma V10 sound good, with an obviously much better price point than $150. Do I also use a reinoid….under or on top of the cream? Should this be used daily? Wonder why the lotion she sold me is so terribly expensive. Does suncreen go on first, or after other lotion and b/f make up? Thank you so very much for this great service you are providing. Have a wonderful day. Cheers, Trishia

    • It sounds like the mixto hydrate is made by the laser manufacturer. Checking the ingredients , it does sound a lot like CereVe which has both hyaluronic acid and ceramides. It has lots of moisturizing properties and is still mild and non irritating. I would wait at least six weeks before using retinoids but most important use a sunscreen every day.

      • Thank you so very much. I bought the PM today and will return tomorrow for the AM with sunscreen 50. My goodness but you offer such an incredible service I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you ckg the incredients on Mixto against CereVe. As a professional myself (psychologist) I find it unethical to sell this product at $150 when it is available at drugstores. We perform a service, we’re not into retail for a profit (end of rant!). The only difference I found was that ceremides was listed as the 2nd ingredient after shea butter. Does that justify the price because it was higher in ceremides than CerVe’s product?

  15. I have been using the cerave in the jar.
    My concern is whether the niacinimides are stable enough to withstand the light and air every time tub is opened. Contamination is also a concern with the jar.

    • I am not a big fan of jars.I share your concerns about contamination. For this reason, I buy products in bottles and tubes.

  16. What is the product that so many celebrities use that is supposed to work as well as a face lift? Does it really work as stated? What is in it? How can one get it without being part of a subscription scheme?

    • If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Celebrities have the money to get the most expensive treatments like lasers, Botox and fillers. And I DEFINITELY avoid any products by subscription.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *