As people age, their skin begins to lose the natural lipids, the molecules that form the building blocks of cell function and structure. Exposure to harsh environmental factors and the use of drying products can speed up this lipid loss. Ceramide molecules are lipids that keep skin youthful and supple. As they are lost, skin wrinkles and sags. Dermatologists encourage the use of products that contain ceramides to help skin retain moisture.
What Are Ceramide Molecules?
As stated previously, ceramides are a type of lipid. They are an oily wax found in large concentrations in cell membranes. Ceramides work—in the top layer of skin—to hold skin cells together. They actually form a shielding layer that keeps the skin plump and holds in moisture. If surface skin cells are the bricks that make up a wall, then ceramides are the mortar. Ceramides also play a role in regulating cells and repairing damage to the skin’s natural barrier.
Why Do Ceramides Matter?
When skin is irritated, dry, or sensitive, it is often caused by a lack of ceramides. This means that the skin’s protective shield is compromised, causing it to become vulnerable to changes of season, environmental factors, and other irritants. For instance, people with a meth addiction lose ceramides as their drug use progresses, leaving their skin more prone to abrasions and scarring. Various types of meth addiction treatment are available to provide users with hope, help, and guidance.
Ceramide production declines with age, which can contribute to wrinkles and some types of dermatitis, skin inflammation. In order to avoid these skin worries, ceramides need to be added back into the skin.
How Can I Counter Ceramide Loss?
There are two ways to replace ceramides: by ingesting them and by applying them topically.
Is Ingesting Ceramides Effective?
There has been very little research dedicated to the consumption of ceramides. But, there exists a small amount that does indicate ingesting ceramides can improve the skin barrier. And, the FDA has published a paper stating phytoceramides, those from yeast, are safe to consume, so there is no danger in taking them in this way. However, there is not enough evidence-based research to definitively claim that ingestion is truly effective.
How Do Topical Ceramides Benefit the Skin?
Naturally occurring ceramides waterproof the skin, and they do this best when they are mixed with specific ratios of other oily substances. The ideal blend—15% free fatty acids, 25% cholesterol, and 50% ceramides—creates “crystalline lamellar structures,” which have exceptional moisture-retaining traits.
Do Ceramides Penetrate Skin When Applied Topically?
Yes. Ceramides are what is termed “skin-identical” lipids, they match what the body produces naturally. Research has proven that ceramides, when applied topically, can move into the upper layers of skin. Some data suggests that penetration depends upon the other ingredients used in conjunction with the ceramides.
Will Choosing a Ceramide Cream Be Difficult?
Selecting a ceramide cream can be quite complicated because:
- There are tons of different types of ceramides. It can be hard to determine which one you want. But, the consensus is that the ones commonly used are all beneficial to skin.
- Sometimes, the benefits that people experience are simply because the product creates a barrier on the skin’ surface that traps the moisture beneath it. In these instances, ceramides aren’t necessarily any more likely than a traditional, inexpensive ingredient like petrolatum to help cells regain moisture.
- Sometimes, ceramide products are considerably more beneficial than other products because they moisturize from within. But, it depends upon the what the ceramides are combined with and in what ratio. It’s critical. But, there are no clear-cut comparisons that show which formula is the best.
How Do I Choose a Ceramide Cream?
Ceramides are great to add to a skin fitness routine, and it’s best, to begin with, inexpensive products and to work your way up to the more expensive options. The items with a lower price will likely have a single ceramide listed, while higher-priced options will have an optimal combination of ingredients. Keep trying options until you find one that makes your skin feel youthful and supple.