Ceramides for Skin: What they are, Benefits and How to Use
In the world of skincare, there’s always a new superstar to get excited about. Just when you’d gotten around to pronouncing hyaluronic acid, along comes salicylic acid demanding your attention with its anti-acne abilities. Some of these fads dissolve into the night, others evolve to become a long-term companion on our shelves, there’s one saviour that has demonstrated its worth over the years: ceramides. Often overlooked in favour of buzzier, more hyped ingredients, they have a proven track record when it comes to bailing out your skin from the effects of moisture loss and damage from environmental aggressors. If you’re wondering how to get in on the fun, join us as we take a deep-dive into the world of ceramides.
First off, what are ceramides exactly?
Skin experts are known to equate the importance of ceramides in the skin barrier as the cement in between bricks on a wall. Imagine your skin cells as the bricks and ceramides as the waxy lipids glueing it all together. Known to constitute over 50% of the skin’s oil composition, these little fellas serve as the fatty content in the sebum excreted by the skin.
So, do they do anything beyond holding skin cells together? The answer is a resounding YES! Usually composed of sphingosine and fatty acids, ceramides band together to form a protective shield around the skin that locks in moisture and reduces inflammation by preventing the permeability of everyday aggressors, such as pollution, bacteria and environmental factors.
Okay, I’m interested! What else can ceramides do for me?
The biggest payoff comes in the form of anti-ageing, making ceramides a more potent saviour than even retinol. The science is easy to follow: if fine lines and wrinkles are caused by dry skin, ceramides can minimise their appearance by sealing moisture into the skin.
The good work doesn’t end there though! Since ceramides are naturally present in the skin, they are safe for every skin type—often prescribed by dermatologists for healing dry skin or eczema. The work of ceramides can be better explained by returning to the cement analogy: if dryness causes cracks between skin cells, ceramides are the cement filling in the gaps. What’s not to love?
But wait, if they are naturally available, why do I need them in my skincare?
While ceramides are present in the skin barrier, the unfortunate news is that their production is inversely connected to age. With the passage of time as well as other factors, such as sun damage, the natural reserves of ceramides are depleted, thereby weakening your skin barrier. This can lead to skin that is dry, inflamed and easily irritable to the touch.
Which is why, it is time to allow skincare to ride in as your very own knight in shining armour. When packaged properly, ceramide products can give you firmer, plumper skin with reduced signs of ageing. However, the phrase ‘properly packaged’ is key here as they can lose their efficacy when exposed to light and air. When shopping, you’ll want to look for products that deliver ceramides to you in an opaque bottle with an airtight pump.
Sounds good! So how can I find the right ceramides for me?
Glad you asked. The good news is that ceramides are found naturally in the skin, making them ideal for all skin types. The even better news? They are a good team player with other moisture-boosting ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid—you’ll often find these used in conjunction in topical moisturisers for sealing moisture into the skin.
Since ceramides are known for their fatty content, it comes as little surprise that they are found in high concentrations in natural oils: jojoba oil (98%), sunflower oil (78%) and poppy seed oil (70%), among others. You’ll also find them denoted on product labels as ceramides AP, NP, EOP, NG and NS, according to a study.
So, my anti-ageing skincare routine is complete?
Hold the phone. As with all forms of skincare, no one miracle ingredient can do it all—and if a product claims otherwise, it is essential to take it with a pinch of salt. Ceramides are a good team player with ingredients with a stellar lipid profile, as well as those that can dry the skin. Retinol is a prime example of the same—while it can refresh your snake easily, it is also known to dehydrate your skin. Enter, stage left: ceramides for sealing in the gaps in your skin barrier with its moisture-boosting capabilities.
Done! How do I use ceramides in my skincare routine?
If you are new to ceramides, it helps to follow the basics. Ahead, we list down the essential guidelines for making the most of ceramide-enriched products:
● While you can use ceramides anytime during the day, if you are looking to maximise its effectiveness, it helps to use ceramides immediately after a hot shower to seal the moisture into you skin.
● Likewise, it helps to apply ceramides just before going to sleep because the skin is known to regenerate itself as we sleep, bringing it to a recommended application of twice a day.
● It also helps to note the correct order of using it in your skincare routine: cleanse the skin with a cleanser first, apply a toner to close the pores, follow up with your serum of choice and seal it all in with a ceramide-enriched moisturiser.
● If you are using it during the day, you can reserve your ceramides as the last step before applying SPF as you head out the door.