It’s a scientifically proven fact that all skin types must preserve their skin barrier function which is essential for skin health. In case you need some further explanation, (i.e. you aren’t a skincare junkie) the skin barrier is a protective layer that both prevents harmful bacteria from entering the skin while retaining moisture inside the skin to keep it healthy.
Ceramides are naturally occurring key lipid molecules present in roughly 50% of the skin barrier structure. The long and short of it is that they surround dead skin cells (corneocytes) and help form a strong barrier. These lipids help protect the skin from infection and reduce transepidermal water loss.
The thing is, as you age the number of ceramides in your skin naturally decreases. This is why it’s super important to top them up through topical skincare products, such as moisturisers. By adding this ingredient to your skincare routine you’re essentially taking a holistic approach to skincare. Although ceramides are mainly lauded for their moisturising abilities, they also help to reduce wrinkles and retain moisture in the skin.
Given that ceramides are an essential part of our biological makeup, it stands to reason that you can find them in food products such as eggs and corn; however it never hurts to supplement those natural sources with some all-important skin care products. Think of it like taking a vitamin - sure you probably get your daily intake from the food that you're consuming, but taking a couple of pills a day will just ensure the healthy functioning of your body.
This is especially true if you suffer from a skin condition, such as eczema or rosacea. Research has shown that those with dry or inflamed skin tend to have a lack of ceramides in their body. If something as simple as putting on moisturiser right before you sleep can help solve and/or lessen the effects of these problems, it would be a missed opportunity not to, at the very least, try it.
You might have noticed that moisturisers have been mentioned an awful lot and there’s a reason for that. While ceramides can be found in a number of skincare products, generally speaking it works best with moisturisers since it can act on the skin straight away and have time to be absorbed.
There’s also an interesting observation to be made in the fact that ceramides can’t be compared to any other skincare ingredient. This is because there is no real alternative to something this integral to the health of your skin.
Without the correct amount of this specific ingredient, as proven through the symptoms of conditions such as eczema, the very structure of your skin is compromised. That is why, although ceramides found within skincare products are synthetic, they are created to be pretty much identical to the real stuff since this will provide the best results.
Overall, this ingredient is, for all intents and purposes, one of skincare’s many versions of supplementation. Rather than adding something that’s going to work separately from the multiple, complex biological processes that occur in the skin you’re simply adding something to help that process go more smoothly. No harm, no foul.
The fact that ceramides are essential for skin health truly cannot be stressed enough. To go into more detail, ceramides are lipid molecules (oil-based) present in the skin barrier (stratum corneum).¹²
That skin barrier is present in every single human being and is designed to form an extremely powerful obstacle to all the germs and toxins present in the environment. In this way, it acts as our first line of defence of our immune system by helping to regulate water loss and keeping infection, dirt, and those pesky toxins out.
Ceramides are needed to ensure the skin barrier is constantly and consistently kept strong and resilient.¹² When ceramides are altered, either through harsh cleansing or genetics, symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as dry, flaky skin can occur. This is why it is crucial to maintain a good balance of ceramides if you want to preserve skin health (and let’s be real, who doesn’t).
When added to skincare regimens, ceramides work to replenish skin barrier lipids and boost skin hydration.² They also help to reduce water loss (transepidermal water loss). This means they are extremely important to create a supple, soft, and plump complexion in all skin types.
Not to mention the fact that when used in moisturisers, you’ll see results within days. Practically overnight, that dry, cracked skin you’ve been worried about will be restored and made healthier without even an ounce of effort. All it takes is a couple of clicks on your laptop.
The only thing to note when buying ceramide products is that packaging does matter. Make sure that it’s in an airtight container so that the efficacy of the product isn’t compromised, and of course keep the expiry date in mind. The reason for this is that consistent exposure to light and/or air, albeit in small doses, can make the ingredient useless overtime.
What’s more, ceramides have been proven to work well alongside pretty much any products and/or ingredients already present in your skincare routine. In fact, it allows those other active ingredients to work better since it locks them into the skin, alongside moisture. This means that there truly is no downside to adding this ingredient to your skincare routine.
If you need even more proof of this bold statement, look no further than the fact that there are no proven side effects to using ceramides. Since it’s a naturally occurring lipid, your body already knows how to handle it and just continues on - business as usual.
It’s also important to mention that ceramide use isn’t limited to a certain part of your body. Wherever there’s dry skin, it’ll be useful since it helps to bring back moisture and rejuvenate the look of the skin.
However when using it on the face, as compared to the rest of the body, it helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles which may be something that you’re interested in. This, once again, can be attributed to its moisturising abilities.
Now that you’ve heard all of the many, many ceramides benefits there’s little to no chance that you won’t be a convert. Even if you’re not a die-hard skincare enthusiast, you’ll be drawn to the holistic nature of this ingredient.
By adding one simple step to your nighttime routine, one which you likely already do, you can ensure the lasting integrity and youthful look of your skin. Who wouldn’t want that?
1. Coderch L, López O, de la Maza A, Parra J. Ceramides and Skin Function. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2003;4(2):107-129.
2. Meckfessel M, Brandt S. The Structure, Function, and Importance of Ceramides in Skin and Their Use as Therapeutic Agents in Skin-Care Products. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;71(1):177-184.
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