Ceramides are definitely the best-kept anti-ageing skin care secret. But we are about to reveal it all here. Ceramides have a proven anti-ageing record but other ingredients like retinoids and niacinamide usually steal the limelight. Ceramides strengthen the skin barrier, help skin retain moisture and keep the skin looking firmer for longer. If you want to improve skin texture or are interested in ceramides’ anti-aging effects? Check out this blog
What does the stratum corneum of the skin do?
Think of your skin like your protective barrier to the outside world. The skin barrier function is dependent on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin). The stratum corneum prevents excessive water loss through the skin, protects against trauma, allergies and germs. So, keeping the stratum corneum in tip-top shape is critical for overall skin appearance and health.
What are ceramides?
Ceramides are found in the stratum corneum. They are lipids (fats called sphingolipids) that make up over 50% of the skin’s composition. At least 15 classes of ceramides have been identified. Ceramide 3 is the most abundant ceramide in the stratum corneum (outermost layer of human skin).
What do ceramides do?
Think of your skin cells like bricks. Ceramides are like the key ingredient of the mortar (the stuff that holds the bricks together) between the skin cells. The level of total ceramides, the level of specific ceramides and the size (length) of ceramides, affects how well the skin performs its function as a barrier.
Why are ceramides an essential part of a good skin care regimen?
With age, sun damage and some skin conditions like eczema, the effectiveness and concentration of ceramides in the stratum corneum is decreased. This will weaken the skin barrier which means it will look and feel dry, rough, irritated and red with visible signs of wrinkling and dehydration.
There is experimental evidence that replacing depleted skin ceramides or enhancing their production might have beneficial effects in terms of improving skin barrier function and skin hydration. Moisturisers that contain ceramides have been shown to stimulate ceramide synthesis help to optimise skin hydration.
What happens in atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis and acne?
The level of epidermal ceramides is reduced, and their composition altered in skin diseases like atopic dermatitis (AD) and psoriasis, as well as in aged skin and acne, resulting in defective skin barrier function and skin dryness. Replacement of the ceramides will help in the treatment of these skin conditions. That’s right, even those with acne may benefit from using ceramide-containing moisturisers.
How will ceramides help the look and feel of my skin?
Ceramide-containing creams will hydrate, soften and firm up the skin. It will also decrease dryness, redness, irritation and acne. The overall result should be healthier, younger looking skin.
Are ceramides suitable for all skin types?
Ceramides are a natural component of your skin. They are ideal for any skin type and are used with success in those with the most sensitive skin (including those with eczema/atopic dermatitis). Just be sure the ceramide you choose is fragrance free.
It is interesting to note that the ceramide/cholesterol ratio highest in people of Asian background, intermediate in white-skinned individuals the lowest in people with African skin types. This may explain why dry skin is far more common in those with deeply pigmented skin.
Should ceramides be combined with other skin care products?
Yes, they can be combined with other antioxidants like vitamin B, C and A-containing creams and serums. It can also be combined with exfoliating ingredients like alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, but this needs to be done carefully if you have sensitive skin. If you are unsure about what combination is best for your age and skin type, seek professional advice from your dermatologist.
Can I replenish ceramides through food consumption?
Ceramides can be found in many plant-based foods (called Phytoceramides). Sources of phytoceramides include eggs, soybeans and spinach. While there are ceramide supplement tablets out there, there is no research showing direct benefits on the skin.
Ceramides are a critical component of the skin barrier function. Replacing ceramides via ceramide-containing moisturisers is one of the easiest ways to enhance luminosity, hydration, suppleness and firmness of the skin while decreasing irritation, redness, and inflammation. When paired with gentle, hydrating cleanser, ceramide-containing moisturisers are a powerful anti-ageing ingredient. So, get stuck into it!
The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention. Please see your healthcare provider for more information on suitability of products, treatments or procedures.