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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Ceramides

July 19, 2020

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Ceramides

You can slather on skin acids galore, but if you want to keep your skin glowing and looking plump what you really need is good old-fashioned fat. More specifically, ceramides.

Ceramides are moisture building blocks for your skin. They work to make your skin stronger and improve its elasticity and ability to retain moisture. Ceramides are powerhouse ingredients when it comes to boosting the overall appearance of your complexion. They also keep your skin feeling soft and looking fresh.

If you’re dealing with dry skin, roughness, redness, or irritation look no further for your skincare solution than ceramides. We’re taking a closer look at ceramides and all of their skin loving benefits, so pay attention- you’re about to get your glow on!

Ceramides

TYPE OF INGREDIENT

Moisturizer

MAIN BENEFITS

Rebuild and restore the protective barrier of the skin to retain moisture, improve visible signs of aging, and block environmental damage

WHO SHOULD USE THEM?

Anyone with dry skin or anyone interested in anti-aging skincare.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE THEM?

It’s safe for frequent use and is recommended to be applied twice daily.

WORK WELL WITH

Cholesterol and fatty acids. 


What are ceramides? 

Ceramides are the naturally-occurring bonding agents that, in short, help your skin retain moisture. Imagine the outer layer of your skin is made up of bricks and cement. Your skin cells are the bricks, and the lipids or fats between them, including ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids, represent the cement.

Ceramides seal the cracks between your skin cells. They keep the bad stuff like microbes, infection and pollution out. And, they keep the good stuff, like moisture, in. The amount of ceramides you have in your skin is genetically determined. And just like collagen, the body’s natural stores get depleted over time.

Why are ceramides important?

Besides keeping your skin looking and feeling dewey and fresh, ceramides play an important role in skin’s function. The outer layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum, serves as a barrier to protect your skin and seal moisture in. If your skin barrier isn’t working properly, it lets water out. A lack of moisture causes your skin to dry out, look dull and become more sensitive.

As a crucial part of the skin’s barrier layer, ceramides protect it from exposure to environmental aggressors like pollution and harsh weather. When your skin lacks ceramides, your skin barrier becomes compromised, resulting in dryness and irritation.

Studies even link low ceramide levels to skin conditions like eczema. The main function of your skin is to protect you from the elements of the outside world. If your skin barrier isn’t functioning properly, your skin will respond accordingly.

How does skin lose its ceramides? 

Much like collagen and elastin proteins, ceramides are produced naturally by your skin. But, they become depleted over time as you age. After age 20, the body produces fewer ceramides at a loss of one percent per year.

Ceramide levels can also take a hit from UV damage, harsh soaps, hot water and over-exfoliation; all of which can throw off your skin's pH balance. Anything that strips your skin of oil can throw your ceramide levels out of whack, leading to dry, thin, and aged skin.

Another factor that affects your ceramide levels is your diet. The availability of nutrients like healthy fats and vitamins are crucial for happy skin. Load up on leafy greens, lean proteins, and good oils like olive and avocado.

Types of ceramides

Up to nine different ceramides have been identified in the skin. Many of these are becoming popular in skincare products. You’ll usually find the word ceramide followed by a number on the ingredient list of your product label.

Their overall function of these molecules is to help maintain water retention in the skin. The type of ceramide and its structure determines the function of the ceramides. Ceramides 2 and 3 are widely used in skincare products designed for the face and the neck.

Ceramides may also appear as sphingosine and phytosphingosine. These are amino acid chains that include ceramide as one of its molecules. Sphingosine and phytosphingosine can help nudge your skin into producing more ceramides on it’s own.

Synthetic vs. natural ceramides

In terms of synthetic vs. natural, the only natural ceramides are the ones already in your skin. This doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of quality or efficacy. As long as ceramides are replenished, they can benefit your skin.

A natural way to induce ceramide production in your skin is by adding healthy fats to your diet. Ceramides may also be found in foods like:

  • sweet potatoes
  • soy
  • wheat
  • rice
  • corn

Seven Benefits of Ceramides for Skin 

  1. Ceramides restore the skin barrier.

A loss of ceramides causes a compromised stratum corneum. This can allow bacteria to enter through tiny cracks and cause irritation. Replenishing ceramides will keep the skin barrier healthy and functioning properly.

  1. Ceramides lock moisture into the skin.

A healthy skin barrier seals the moisture in to prevent water loss, and subsequently, dry skin.

  1. Ceramides protect the skin.

Ceramides work to protect the skin against environmental aggressors like UV damage and pollution.

  1. Ceramides make skin more tolerable to actives.

Ceramides protect from the active ingredients that have a tendency to cause irritation.

  1. Ceramides reduce visible signs of aging.

The thinning and aging of the skin is not only due to the loss or break down of collagen and elastin. Dry skin looks more crepe-y, and dehydration can also impact hyaluronic acid production and plumpness. Your skin barrier is also incredibly important for maintaining radiance and clarity.

  1. Ceramides help calm skin sensitivities.

When the skin’s stratum corneum is not working properly, the skin can get dehydrated. This can make skin dry, inflamed, and increase risk for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, acne, and psoriasis.

  1. Ceramides soften and smooth the skin.

Restoring lost ceramides will increase hydration in the skin and improve the overall look and feel.

Should you be using ceramides?

No matter what your skin type, you can benefit from adding products with ceramides into your skincare routine. Using a moisturizer with ceramides prevents water from evaporating from the skin’s surface. This process known as TEWL, or Trans Epidermal Water Loss, and it's happening to your skin all the time.

Products packed with ceramides help support your skin’s inherent moisturization. This can help prevent future damage, fill fine lines and wrinkles, and strengthen the skin barrier. Every skin type can benefit from ceramides, but they’re especially beneficial to those with dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. If you have a skin condition that causes extreme dryness like eczema or psoriasis, it’s even more important to use ceramides in your skincare routine.

How to use ceramides in skincare

We recommend using ceramides in both your morning and nighttime skincare routines. Exactly where you include them depends on the type of product you’re using. If your ceramides are in the form of a cream or facial oil, use your cleanser first, followed by toner and serum, and save the ceramides for the final step at night. OR right before your SPF if it’s during the day. Ceramides are also available in some skin cleansers, in which case they would go first in your routines.

Which other ingredients do ceramides work well with?

Ceramides are most effective when combined with other skin nourishing ingredients like fatty acids, glycerin, and cholesterol. This ingredient combo is ideal for hydration and improving skin texture. Ceramides also work really well to reverse the signs of aging when paired with antioxidants like retinol, niacinamide, and peptides.

Are there any side effects associated with using ceramides?

Topical ceramides are generally considered safe. However, it’s always smart to do a patch test before trying a new skincare product to determine how your skin will react. Apply a dime-sized amount of product to the inside of your forearm. If you don’t develop any side effects within 24 hours, the product should be safe to apply elsewhere.

What results can you expect from using ceramides?

As with any new skincare product you introduce into your routine, ceramides can take time to reveal their full effects. Creams and lotions may have an immediate moisturizing effect, but the anti-aging effects depend on your skin cell turnover rate. It’s likely you’ll begin to notice firmer, smoother skin within three to six months of consistent use.

Wrapping up

Adding skincare products with ceramides into your skincare routine boosts your skin’s natural ceramide production and give you a glowy complexion. Ceramides in skincare are used to help restore moisture in the skin barrier and minimize irritation. They also help treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. 

For softening fine lines, plumping and hydrating your skin and an overall more healthy, happy looking complexion, there’s no better ingredients to add to your skincare lineup than ceramides.