Azelaic acid, bakuchiol and tranexamic acid are three tongue-twisting skin care ingredients that have risen in popularity recently. With people always on the hunt for the Next Big Thing in beauty, it’s easy to overlook some common active ingredients and what they can actually do for your skin.

For example, if you visit the beauty aisle of your local drugstore, you’ll probably find a CeraVe product with packaging that emphasizes its use of ceramides next to several other options that say the same thing. Seeing the ingredient called out so often, it’s easy to assume that it’s a good thing. But what exactly are ceramides and what do they actually do for your skin?

To answer these questions, Shop TODAY spoke to three skin care experts to learn everything we need to know about ceramides.

What are ceramides?

In short, ceramides are lipids (fatty molecules) that are found in the topmost layer of the skin to function as a barrier to protect the skin and help lock in moisture, explained certified physician assistant Kendra Joseph and board-certified dermatologists Dr. Julia Tzu and Dr. Cameron Rokhsar.

Joseph described them as “building blocks of your skin that protect or provide a link with other building blocks of your skin to prevent exposure to the outside world,” which then creates a barrier. Rokhsar added that the barrier helps to keep water from evaporating from the skin and prevent dehydration.

What are the benefits of using products with ceramides?

Joseph and Tzu agree that hydration is one of the main benefits of using products that contain ceramides. “We already know ceramides are naturally found in the skin, so when you’re using a product with a ceramide in it, it’s only going to boost your hydration. It’s going to make your skin feel moist and supple,” Joseph said.

Ceramides are also beneficial for anyone dealing with aging skin, Joseph, Tzu and Rokhsar told us. They explained that, as you age, you naturally lose ceramides, so using a product with that ingredient can be helpful in the long run.

Similarly, having dry skin conditions like eczema or atopic dermatitis can mean that you have less ceramides. Using a product with ceramides can help restore moisture, Rokhsar shared, but Tzu warned, “It’s not a guarantee that just because you use a ceramide-filled moisturizer that you will not get eczema or any rash.”

Whether you’re looking for a ceramide-filled product to provide hydration, tackle aging skin or manage dry skin conditions, here are a few expert-recommended and top-rated products that could help.

Best ceramide products, according to experts and shoppers

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer

Joseph called out this facial moisturizer from CeraVe, calling it “great for dry, eczematous skin.” It’s lightweight, oil-free and also contains two other buzzy active ingredients: hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Once your face is moisturized, don’t forget about the rest of your body! This cream can be used from head to toe. It has a 4.8-star average rating and almost 57,000 verified five-star ratings. One recent shopper even called it “the cure to their problematic skin.”

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

If you have acne-prone skin, Joseph recommends this face moisturizer. Shoppers love it, too. It has a 4.6-star average and over 16,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon.

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream

This fragrance-free moisture repair cream is made with a triple oat complex and ceramides to give your skin the intense hydration it advertises. The brand says the formula will prevent moisture loss, protect the skin’s barrier and provide intense hydration for 24 hours.

Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream

Featuring star ingredients like ceramides and colloidal oatmeal, the brand claims this cream can significantly improve hydration, relieve itchiness due to eczema and relieve red, irritated skin. One verified five-star reviewer said this cream has “serious moisturizing power.”

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream

Formulated with a complex of five ceramides, this cream is meant to help strengthen the skin barrier and reduce water and moisture loss. Sephora reviewers can’t get enough of it, with one reviewer emphasizing the tears they’ll shed should this product ever be discontinued.

Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream

Made with active lipids, peptides and hyaluronic acid, this cream is meant to brighten, firm and plump the skin, according to the brand. It has a 4.5-star average on Sephora and one recent five-star reviewer called it “the best moisturizer they’d ever used.”

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Recommended by Joseph as an option for aging skin, this treatment is formulated to improve the look of skin texture, fullness and evenness with ingredients like vitamin E and essential oils.

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