The 10 Best Ceramide Moisturizers to Buy in 2021

Give your skin the hydration it craves

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The 10 Best Ceramide Moisturizers of 2021

If you struggle with excessively dry skin, there are certain skincare ingredients that can provide much-needed relief. Ceramides, for instance, are an excellent place to start. Ceramides are lipids, or fats, that are found naturally in your epidermis. They help form the skin barrier, which helps the skin retain its moisture by preventing water evaporation. When your skin lacks the proper ratio of ceramides, its barrier can be compromised, causing issues like dryness or redness.

Luckily, you can effectively replenish your skin’s ceramide balance with topical moisturizers. In fact, studies suggest that ceramide cream moisturizers can lead to increased skin hydration, decreased transepidermal water loss, and the maintenance of skin barrier function that protects against irritants, allergens, and microbes.

Here are the best ceramide moisturizers on the market today.

Our Top Picks
Powered by a potent combination of ceramide 3, prebiotic thermal water, glycerin, and niacinamide for restorative hydration.
Combines ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II to provide 24-hour hydration and help restore the protective skin barrier.
Locks in moisture, aids the protective skin barrier, and guards against environmental toxins.
Best for Eczema and Psoriasis:
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream at Amazon
Target dry, itchy, and flaky skin with this one powerful, affordable cream.
Does a great job of gently and effectively moisturizing the skin without adding shine.
Alpha hydroxy acids, ceramides, and squalane effectively hydrate and tone the skin, giving it a smoother and brighter appearance.
Pairs hydrating and restorative ceramides with retinol, an ingredient proven to help minimize wrinkles.
Uses sunflower oil to soften rough skin and ceramides to restore the skin’s moisture barrier for 24 hours.
Includes ceramides to repair the skin barrier, vitamin E to protect against free radicals, and sclareolides to target pigmentation.
Replenishes the components of the hair follicle that give hair its strength and coats fragile hair in a protective barrier.

Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Pros
  • Potent formula

  • Oil-free

  • Contains glycerin, which is suitable for sensitive skin types

Cons
  • Pricey

  • Only for face

This daily moisturizer helps all skin types achieve hydrated, healthy-looking skin. The oil-free formula is powered by ceramide 3, which is a ceramide naturally found in the skin. It also contains moisturizing glycerin, prebiotic thermal water, and soothing niacinamide. This ingredient combination replenishes the skin’s moisture for up to 48 hours and helps restore the skin's natural protective barrier after a single hour.

This non-comedogenic, fast-absorbing moisturizer won’t clog your pores, and because it’s free of both fragrance and parabens, it’s also an excellent choice for folks with sensitive skin. 

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin | Uses: 48-hour hydration for the face, repairs skin’s barrier | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best Budget: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Skin

Pros
  • Provides 24-hour hydration

  • Restores the skin’s barrier

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • May not be suitable for specific skin conditions on the face, like redness

CeraVe is a household name in the world of ceramide-rich skincare, with many moisturizing products that are soothing to your skin and kind to your wallet. This particular lotion has a unique, lightweight formula that makes it an excellent choice for both normal and dry skin.

Its combination of ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II provides 24-hour hydration and helps restore the protective skin barrier you need for healthy, glowing skin. This moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid to further retain the skin’s natural moisture. It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and safe to use on your face, hands, and body.

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Uses: Moisturizes and helps restore the skin barrier for normal to dry skin | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best for Sensitive Skin: BeautyStat Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream

Pros
  • Lightweight formula

  • Non-greasy

  • Targets dry spots

Cons
  • May be too thick for use under makeup

  • May spread bacteria from directly touching product in jar

While some moisturizing creams feel heavy and greasy, this pick from BeautyStat is surprisingly lightweight and leaves zero shiny residue behind. Instead, it locks the moisture you need directly into your skin with hyaluronic acid, aids the protective skin barrier with ceramides and pomegranate sterols, and guards against environmental toxins with probiotic Bifidobacterium extract and Ganoderma, a ferment from mushrooms.

This fragrance-free cream helps reduce redness and can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and dark spots over time. Ideal for sensitive and dry skin, this moisturizing cream will give you the healthy glow and soft texture you crave.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Uses: Anti-aging and wrinkle cream plus moisturizer for the face | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best for Eczema and Psoriasis: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Pros
  • Good for dry, flaky skin

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Very thick

  • Rich texture which may not be suitable for daytime

  • Better suited for body than face

CeraVe earns a second spot on our list with its ability to target both eczema and psoriasis in one powerful, affordable cream. Dry, flaky skin is at the root of both of these skin conditions, and this rich cream tackles these symptoms effectively with ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II. It also uses hyaluronic acid to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier and lock in both moisture and important nutrients.

This cream is better used for eczema and psoriasis on the body, but you can safely use it in small amounts on your face as well. The formula is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and gentle enough for virtually any skin type.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Uses: Hydrate skin for up to 24 hours | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Hydrated skin is supple, healthy, and contributes to the appearance of a youthful visage. Dehydrated skin can become red and irritated, and is prone to conditions like eczema. Brendan Camp, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Paula's Choice CLEAR Oil-Free Moisturizer

Paula's Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer
Pros
  • Non-greasy formula

  • Non-comedogenic

Cons
  • Should only be used in the evening

  • So lightweight, you may need additional hydration if you use retinol

Folks with acne-prone skin need to be especially careful with the moisturizer they choose in order to avoid exacerbating clogged pores and additional breakouts. This pick from Paula’s Choice does a great job of gently and effectively moisturizing the skin without adding shine. It’s lightweight but packed with hydrating hyaluronic acid, restorative ceramides, calming antioxidants, and tone-improving vitamin niacinamide.

This moisturizer not only fortifies your skin but also reduces the natural redness that tends to come with acne-prone skin. It's also oil-free, fragrance-free, and paraben-free. It’s recommended that you use this moisturizer in the evening as the final step of your skincare routine before bed.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid | Uses: Hydrates without adding shine, soothes and calms redness, strengthens skin’s surface | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best for Dull Skin: Mario Badescu A.H.A. & Ceramide Moisturizer

Pros
  • Tones skin while it hydrates

  • Has alpha hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate

  • Reveals brighter skin

Cons
  • Cannot be used around eye area

  • Strong lemon scent

If you struggle with dull, lackluster skin, ceramides can help bring that coveted glow back to your complexion, especially in this formula from Mario Badescu. The gentle daily moisturizer uses refreshing lemon and lemongrass extracts, as well as soothing aloe vera gel to help revive dull, congested skin. Plus, alpha-hydroxy acids, ceramides, and squalane effectively hydrate and tone the skin, giving it a smoother and brighter appearance. It’s absorbent, lightweight, and it can help reduce sun spots and skin pigmentation conditions.

After cleansing and toning your skin, apply the moisturizer all over your face, avoiding the eye area. And if you want to rejuvenate your skin while you sleep, use it as a lightweight night cream.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, aloe | Uses: Moisturizes oily/combination skin | Fragrance: Light fragrance

It is important to note that dry skin is different from dehydrated skin, in that dry skin implies a reduction in sebum or oil. Sebum lubricates the skin, prevents dehydration, and makes the skin and hair feel smooth and soft. Brendan Camp, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist

Best for Aging Skin: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum

Elizabeth Arden
Pros
  • Includes retinol for anti-aging

  • Hydrates with ceramides

Cons
  • Pre-portioned

  • More of a serum than cream

Ceramides are a potent ingredient in an anti-aging skin care regimen because effective hydration and skin barrier protection help ward off the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This formula from Elizabeth Arden pairs ceramides with retinol, an ingredient proven to help minimize wrinkles, to create the ultimate anti-aging serum that improves skin texture and tone.

The moisturizer is pre-portioned into easy-to-use capsules that keep the light- and air-sensitive retinol potent until you’re ready to use them. It’s also lightweight, preservative-free, and fragrance-free. Gently twist the capsule tab around twice to open it, then smooth the serum over your face and neck before applying your evening moisturizer.

Active Ingredients: Retinol, ceramides, emollient oils for moisture | Uses: Anti-aging, moisturizing serum to improve wrinkles and skin tone | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Ceramide as an ingredient is great for everyone, but it is especially helpful for older people, as our natural ceramide production dips with age. This is especially true in postmenopausal women. —Jessica Krant, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist

Best for Body: Cetaphil Intensive Healing Lotion with Ceramides

Pros
  • All natural sunflower oil softens skin

  • Hydrates for 24 hours

Cons
  • Doesn’t target redness

  • Should not be used on face

Ceramides don’t just help the skin on your face. In fact, using a body lotion full of ceramides is one of the best ways to heal rough, dry, and flaky skin. This ultra-healing lotion from Cetaphil, a dermatologist-recommended brand, uses sunflower oil to soften rough skin and ceramides to restore the skin’s moisture barrier for 24 hours.

The non-irritating formula also contains amino acids and allantoin that help soothe and nourish dry, flaky skin. Free of both fragrances and parabens, it’s suitable for every skin type. It’s also non-comedogenic and doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue.

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, amino acid, sunflower seed oil, allantoin | Uses: Nourish and hydrate sensitive, flaky skin for up to 24 hours | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best for Hands: EltaMD So Silky Hand Crème

Elta MD So Silky Hand Creme
Pros
  • Vitamin E protects against free radicals

  • Targets pigmentation with sclareolides

Cons
  • Only works for 12 hours

  • Not for face

Ceramides can be incredibly effective in restoring dry, cracked hands. This moisturizing hand lotion from EltaMD uses ceramides to help repair the skin barrier, jojoba esters to hydrate the skin, vitamin E to protect against free radicals, and sclareolides from the plant clary sage to target pigmentation.

The result? Silky-smooth hands with fewer fine lines and less discoloration. It’s a quick-drying, oil-free formula, so it absorbs fully into the skin without leaving your hands feeling sticky and works to repair for up to 12 hours.

Active Ingredients: Vitamin E, jojoba, ceramides | Uses: Heal and repair dry cracked skin | Fragrance: Fragrance-free

Best for Hair: Palmer's Natural Fusions Ceramide Monoi Hair Food Oil

Pros
  • Strengthens hair at the root

  • Safe for sensitive scalps

Cons
  • Strong scent

  • Should only be used a few times a week

Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that can benefit substantially from ceramides. In fact, these ceramide lipids (fats) can help to both nourish and strengthen your hair as well. This cocktail of hydro-ceramides and Tahitian Monoï helps to replenish the components of the hair follicle that give hair its strength and coat fragile hair in a protective barrier to prevent further breakage. It’s an excellent botanical combination for promoting optimal growth and protecting new hair growth. It’s free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and gluten, so it’s safe for even the most sensitive scalps.

Active Ingredients: Canola oil, ceramides, soybean oil | Uses: Hydrate and soften hair | Fragrance: Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract

Final Verdict

Unless you have psoriasis or eczema, any ceramide cream on the market will generally be safe for you to use. If you do have a skin condition, it’s best to consult with your doctor or dermatologist about any new products you are looking to try. If you’re looking for a solid one-size-fits-all ceramide moisturizer, you really can’t go wrong with La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer (view at Amazon). It provides the moisture and skin protection you crave and skips over any potentially irritating ingredients. However, if you want more bang for your buck, CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin (view at Amazon) is an excellent choice that's easy on your pockets.

What to Look for in a Ceramide Moisturizer

Ingredients:

Your ceramide cream may contain up to “nine different ceramides found naturally in the skin, and they differ based on their chemical structure,” says Tiffany Libby, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist. “The good news is they all function similarly to one another and serve to restore and protect the skin barrier, lock in moisture, calm and soothe skin, and reduce visible signs of aging,” she says. 

Ceramide Type:

The top layer of your epidermis contains nine different types of ceramides which are conveniently named ceramide 1 through ceramide 9. While they're similar in nature, certain skin conditions can result in significantly fewer ceramides in the skin. If you have psoriasis, you may want to opt for a moisturizer with higher levels of ceramides 1 through 5, which are usually deficient in people with psoriasis. Talk to your dermatologist about which ceramides to look for in your moisturizer.

Targeted Anatomy:

Ceramides are great to use on all skin, face, and body and are best applied immediately after showering or bathing. Though there are ceramide creams on the market targeted towards the face, body, and even hair, Dr. Libby notes that “the main differences would likely be in the vehicle in which the ceramides are being delivered. For the face, you may want a lighter formulation like a lotion, whereas for the body you may need a cream vehicle to deliver the ceramides. Likewise, for hair, a moisturizing conditioner or hair treatment,” she says. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can ceramide moisturizers cause breakouts?

    If you have acne-prone skin, you should choose a ceramide lotion just as you would choose any other skincare item; make sure it’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. Look for ceramide creams that are water-based and oil-free, like La Roche-Posay’s double repair moisturizer.

  • Which ceramides should you look for in a moisturizer?

    The optimal ratio for a healthy skin barrier can be explained by the 1:1:1 molar ratio made up of one part cholesterol, one part ceramides, and one part free fatty acids. However, over time many dermatologists learned that they could increase one of the three parts to the ratio to 3:1:1 and help the skin heal faster. If your ceramide moisturizer is increased by three and you still have one part cholesterol and one part free fatty acids, it’s a great option to help you restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

What Experts Say

“Dry skin is easily treatable with a variety of moisturizers. Some good ingredients to look for are ceramides, dimethicone, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid. Apply on damp skin such as after a shower for the best effect of locking in the moisture. Lotions are the thinnest and weakest, followed by creams that are stronger, and ointments which are usually a bit greasy but the strongest. Straight oils are preferred by some people and also work well.” Rebecca Baxt, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a seasoned health writer, Alena Hall understands how important it is to know exactly what you’re getting in a wellness product. Over the years, she has reviewed dozens of products, from athletic recovery aids to homeopathic essential oils to ever-trendy CBD topicals, to help readers like you discover products that can help you live your best life.

Additional reporting to this story by Brittany Leitner 

As a health writer with over 8 years of experience, Brittany Leitner understands how important access to information is when it comes to making educated health decisions. She has interviewed dozens of medical experts, tested out hundreds of products, and aims to provide quality recommendations that won't break the bank.

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