Ceramides are fats or lipids that are found in skin cells. They make up 30% to 40% of your outer skin layer, or epidermis. Ceramides are important for retaining your skin's moisture and preventing the entry of germs into your body. In addition to keeping skin feeling smooth and looking supple, ceramides play another important role. As a part of the skin's barrier layer, they help protect it from exposure to environmental aggressors like pollution and dry air.