Why Should You Care About Ceramides?
One of the most important factors in shopping for skincare products is taking the time to research the ingredients they contain; and if you have dry, flaky, or itchy skin, then you may have already heard that ceramides skincare items can be an essential part of your skincare kit.
Ceramides may not be as well-known as other effective skincare ingredients, such as retinol and collagen, but they do play an important role in keeping skin healthy. For example, ceramides skincare items can help treat several different skin problems, especially if you’re concerned with hydration.
If you want to add items to your current skincare kit that contains this ingredient, it is important that you understand how it functions and the role it plays in healing damaged skin. Ceramides skincare products can be used by anyone and are widely available without a prescription.
What Are Ceramides?
Before you use any ceramides skincare products, you probably want to know what ceramides are and how they function.
Ceramides occur naturally within the body and are one of nine lipids that are present in the epidermis of the skin, the uppermost layers of the skin. Lipids are a group of ingredients that include fats, waxes, oils, some vitamins, and hormones.
Ceramides are actually part of a subgroup of lipids called sphingolipids. Ceramides act similar to mortar between bricks, they help to seal in moisture in conjunction with the skin cells present in the uppermost layers of the skin.
This is incredibly important to the health of the skin as they are part of the skin’s natural barrier.
The skin’s natural barrier includes a number of oils, amino acids, fatty acids and cholesterol. This barrier helps to protect the skin from damage, bacteria, and allergens as well as reducing water loss from the skin or transepidermal water loss. Transepidermal water loss or TEWL refers to the process where water is lost to the air from the skin. This most often occurs in dry skin types, aging skin or skin that has been damaged or compromised.
As a part of the skin’s natural barrier, ceramides help to prevent the epidermis, or the top layer of the skin, from losing moisture. When people experience dry skin, it is often because of a loss of ceramides in the skin, which can also cause itching, flaking, peeling, and scaling.
Using ceramides skincare products may help replace lipids that have been lost due to chronic dryness, environmental factors, aging, and skin damage caused by certain skin conditions.
Who Should Use Ceramides?
Most skin types can benefit from the use of ceramides, however dry skin, damaged skin or aging skin may benefit most.
Studies have indicated that when you are in your 30s you are likely to have lost 40% of your skin’s naturally occurring ceramides, this increases to 60% in your 40s and increases further as you age. This is part of the reason why many experience a shift in the dryness of their skin around these ages. A reduction in the number of naturally-produced ceramides can reduce the ability of the skin to hold water and maintain healthy functioning.
Damaged or Compromised
One of the other main reasons you may find yourself in need of a little extra help from ceramides is that your skin may be damaged or compromised. Damaged or compromised skin often refers to the damage to the skin’s natural barrier. This can occur through overexfoliating, overuse of active ingredients, sensitivity or some skin conditions such as eczema. The damage to the skin’s natural barrier can make the skin extra sensitive and dry.
Dry skin can come in many forms and have many different causes. You can have dry skin that is prone to acne, or dry skin that is worsened due to aging. Ceramides may help to support dry skin and prevent further water loss and damage.
What Do Ceramides Do For The Skin?
If you are considering using a ceramides skincare product, you should first understand what types of skin care issues they treat so that you can choose one that is the most effective. For example, many studies have shown that people who suffer from eczema, which causes redness, peeling, and flaking of the skin, and those who suffer from psoriasis, which presents with dry, itchy, thick scales on the skin, have a significant reduction of ceramides in their skin.
Restores the skin’s natural barrier
A reduction in the naturally-produced number of ceramides may impact the functioning of the skin’s natural barrier and its ability to protect the skin and keep the skin hydrated. Using ceramide products may help to support the health of the skin’s natural barrier, improving moisture, resilience and preventing flakiness.
Ceramides help to support the skin barrier’s health. When the skin has a healthy skin barrier it helps to keep the skin hydrated and prevent water loss. Water loss or transepidermal water loss is the main cause of dry or dehydrated skin. It can leave the skin feeling lacklustre and dehydrated.
While harsh active ingredients like acids or retinoids can cause damage to the skin’s natural barrier when overused, ceramides may help the skin to tolerate active ingredients better. By supporting the skin’s natural barrier, ceramides may help to reduce the sensitivity or irritation that may be caused by the use of active ingredients.
Ceramides may help to reduce the visible signs of aging on the skin. They may help to reduce water loss, reduce dryness and protect the skin from damage.
Inflammation is often associated with skin conditions that are linked with transepidermal water loss. Conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and rosacea can increase the inflammatory reaction in the skin. Studies have suggested that reducing dryness in the skin and supporting the skin’s natural barrier, may help to soothe angry or irritated skin.
How To Increase Ceramides In The Skin?
The best way to increase the levels of ceramides in the skin is to apply them topically by using a ceramide-based moisturiser or product. However, it may also be beneficial to increase your intake of healthy fats in your diet. Studies have suggested that the quality of the oils that your skin produces is often dependent on your diet.
If you are looking for a natural source of ceramides, sweet potatoes contain small amounts of ceramides. However, before you go stocking your fridge with the orange tubers, it is not fully known whether sweet potatoes are able to increase your ceramides through your diet or even when applied to your skin. The best way to increase your ceramides is still through topical treatments.
Are Ceramides Comedogenic?
Ceramides are non-comedogenic ingredients, so they won’t clog your pores. However, they are often formulated with heavy, moisturizing ingredients in order to help with dry skin. These heavier formulations often contain comedogenic ingredients, so it is best to make sure that the product you’re considering is non-comedogenic.
Not all heavy products are likely to clog your pores, in fact some of the heaviest ingredients such as petrolatum are actually non-comedogenic. You just need to do your research if you have dry skin that also is easily congested.
Are Ceramides Good For Sensitive Skin?
Ceramides are considered to be great for sensitive skin types as they help to support the skin’s natural barrier. A healthy natural barrier may help to reduce the symptoms of sensitivity such as irritation, stinging or dryness.
Are Ceramides Good For Acne?
Ceramides can be a good option of acne-prone skin. Ceramides may help to soothe irritated skin and help reduce dryness, stinging and support the skin’s natural barrier. However, it is always best to speak with your dermatologist or doctor to determine how ceramides may help to support the treatment of your acne.
Are Ceramides Natural?
Ceramides are naturally occurring in the skin and are a normal part of the skin’s healthy functioning. However, they are synethically produced for use in skincare. This allows for the skin to replenish or top up on the ceramides it naturally produces.
Ceramides For Hair
Ceramide may be beneficial for the hair as well as the skin. Ceramides may help to keep the hair cuticle flat which helps to improve shine and prevent flyaways and frizz.
Ceramides are likely to be found in formulations that are designed for chemically treated, colored or bleached hair. This is because they may help to improve the appearance of the hair and increase water retention.
Are Ceramides Vegan?
Ceramides are vegan ingredients. They are synthetically produced without the use of animal or animal byproduct ingredients. Always ensure that the rest of the ingredients in your product are vegan and that the brand does not test on animals.
Are Ceramides Safe During Pregnancy?
Ceramides are generally considered to be safe to use during pregnancy. However, it is always best to consult with your doctor or specialist to determine if they are best for your situation.
Are Ceramides Safe?
Ceramides are considered to be safe for use. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for the independent review of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has reviewed their safety. The Expert Panel determined that they are safe for their current uses and in their currently used concentrations.
What Should You Consider When Choosing A Ceramide-based Product?
There are several things to consider when choosing which ceramide product may be best for you.
One way to choose a product like this is to work closely with your dermatologist. They will be able to ensure your skin concerns are evaluated and a treatment product or products is implemented that best suits your needs.
As you shop for ceramide skincare products, be sure to read the ingredients, as not all moisturizers have the same formulations. A product that contains ceramides, fatty acids, and hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid deliver the greatest amount of support to the skin.
When you’re shopping for a ceramides skin care product, try to avoid products that contain drying or irritating ingredients such as alcohols or acids or strong active ingredients.
While ceramides skin care products can be good for the skin, choosing the right product with non-irritating, effective ingredients is vital to achieve the best results.
What Are The Different Ceramides?
There are a number of different ceramides and they all have differnet names. This can make it slightly confusing when you are checking the ingrdient listing on a product to determine if it’s right for you. Here is a breakdown of the different types of ceramides:
There are nine different types of ceramides that are produced by the skin. The type and structure of the different ceramides determine their function. On your skincare product ingredient list you’ll find ceramides listed as ceramide AP, ceramide EOP, ceramide NG, ceramide NP, ceramide NS, phytosphinosine and sphingosine.
Ceramide 1 was the first ceramide to be discovered back in 1982. It has a unique structure in that it is composed of a sphingosine base and linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid with significant roles in the epidermal lipid barrier.
Ceramide 1 accounts for approximately 6.5% of the total ceramide pool in the stratum corneum. Ceramide 1 may also be referred to as Ceramide EOS on a product’s ingredient label. The “E” indicates that the structure of this ceramide is an Ester linked fatty acid. The “O” stands for the type of amide-linked fatty acid, which in this case is Omega hydroxy fatty acid. The “S” indicates that this ceramide has a Sphingosine base.
Ceramide 1 is thought to play a binding role in the lipid layers of the stratum corneum. Its unique structure enables it to function as a molecular rivet, binding the multiple bilayers of the top layers of the skin.
Furthermore, Ceramides 1, 4, and 7 play a vital role in the integrity of the epidermis by serving as the primary storage areas for linoleic acid.
Ceramide 1 and Ceramide 3 work synergistically to improve the skin barrier function, which helps to keep harmful environmental irritants out and also prevents skin dehydration. Ceramide 1 can be found in skin care products that are intended to moisturize and replenish skin.
Ceramide 3 is composed of a phytosphingosine base and stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid. It accounts for approximately 22.1% of the total ceramide pool in the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).
Ceramide 3 may also be referred to as Ceramide NP, or N-stearoyl phytosphingosine.
Ceramide 3 and ceramide 1 work synergistically to improve the skin barrier function, which helps to keep harmful environmental irritants out and also prevents skin dehydration.
Ceramide AP, also known as α-hydroxy-N-stearoylphytosphingosine, accounts for approximately 8.8% of the total ceramide pool in the stratum corneum.
Ceramide AP may also be referred to as ceramide 6 on a product’s ingredient label, which is based on the original INCI nomenclature.
Ceramide EOP is a type of ceramide that is naturally found in the skin, accounting for approximately 1.1% of the total ceramide pool in the stratum corneum.
The “EOP” in the ingredient name is based on the structure of this ceramide. The “E” indicates that there is an Ester linked fatty acid. The “O” stands for the type of amide-linked fatty acid, which in this case is Omega hydroxy fatty acid. The “P” refers to the Phytosphingosine base.
Ceramide EOP may also be referred to as ceramide 9 on a product’s ingredient label, which is based on the original INCI nomenclature.
Ceramide 6-II is a type of ceramide that is naturally found in the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin). It accounts for approximately 8.8% of the total ceramide pool in the stratum corneum.
Ceramide 6-II may also be referred to as Ceramide AP on a product’s ingredient label, which represents the new INCI nomenclature for this ingredient.
The “A” stands for Alpha-hydroxy fatty acid and the “P” refers to the Phytosphingosine base.
Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s own natural moisturizing systems. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:491-497. Published 2018 Oct 15.
Del Rosso JQ, Levin J. The clinical relevance of maintaining the functional integrity of the stratum corneum in both healthy and disease-affected skin. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011;4(9):22-42.