Youthful, glowing skin is something so many people strive for — and maintaining moisturized skin is a key component to achieving that dewy, fresh look. In fact, properly moisturized skin is crucial in many ways for the overall health of your skin.
But there’s more to locking in hydration than just slapping on some lotion and calling it a day. And as skin ages, it needs different ingredients in order to stay healthy and happy.
Ceramides are one of those key ingredients. In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of maintaining the proper amount of moisture in the skin and discuss the ways that ceramides play an important role in mastering your skin’s moisture levels, plus give you ideas about the best way to incorporate ceramides into your daily skincare routine.
What are Ceramides?
Ceramides are fats, or lipids, that your body creates naturally, and they play a big role in the health and appearance of your skin. That’s because they make up about 50% of the topmost layer of your epidermis, otherwise known as the stratum corneum.
The stratum corneum is super important because it is your body’s first line of defense against basically everything.
It’s helpful to visualize the stratum corneum as a brick-and-mortar wall. The bricks are skin cells called corneocytes, and ceramides are the mortar that holds the corneocytes in place.
For example, a damaged skin barrier can lead to issues like dry, dull, itchy, or oily skin, and can even contribute to conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Without sufficient skin-restoring ceramides, the health of your skin barrier will suffer. And while our bodies do naturally produce ceramides, Harold Lancer, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills, explained to Allure that after the age of 20, the body begins producing fewer and fewer ceramides.
Tiffany Libby, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, advised that by the time a person reaches their 40s, they might experience up to a 60% reduction in ceramide production.
This means that as you age, a ceramide supplement (such as a ceramide cream or ceramide lotion) becomes an important part of a skincare routine designed to encourage skin that looks and feels healthy.
The Benefits of Ceramides for Skin
It’s impossible to deny the importance of ceramides for skin that is healthy, supple, and smooth.
Here we break down some of the most important benefits of ceramides for your skin.
- Replenishes the skin barrier: There are a few different ways that your skin can experience a loss of ceramides. Whether it’s due to aging, improper use of exfoliants, or harsh soaps, a lack of ceramides can comprise the stratum corneum. This can lead to cracks in the skin barrier, allowing bacteria to enter and cause irritation. Maintaining the proper balance of ceramides is crucial for healthy, moisturized skin.
- Seals in moisture: An adequate supply of ceramides is key to a healthy skin barrier, which locks in hydration, keeping skin looking flawless.
- Keeps skin looking younger: Skin becomes thinner as it ages, thanks in part to the slowdown in collagen production that occurs (similar to ceramides). And just like supplementing the body’s natural collagen production can lead to younger-looking skin, supplementing with ceramide-packed products helps retain moisture, which contributes to plumped-up, youthful-looking skin.
- Fights toxins: Environmental pollutants are an unfortunate part of life for most people, and they can seriously affect the health of our skin. Fortunately, supplementing your skincare routine with ceramides can help offset this negative impact.
- Handles inflammatory skin conditions: A compromised stratum corneum can lead to dehydrated skin, which in turn can lead to transient epidermal water loss (TEWL). While TEWL is a natural phenomenon that occurs in everyone, excessive TEWL has been linked to inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
How to Use Ceramides in Your Skincare Routine
When it comes to supplementing your skincare routine with ceramides, you have a few different options. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology in NYC, advised Byrdie .
Typically, you can find moisturizers with ceramides, but ceramides can also be found in cleansers and toners.
You can even find ceramide serum, which may contain active ingredients, such as retinoids and glycolic acid (meant to help the ceramides penetrate deeper into the surface of your skin).
Whichever method of delivery you choose for your ceramide supplementation, make sure your ceramides come in vacuum packing (think containers with pump dispensers). Levin advised Byrdie that this helps prevent air from interacting with the product, which helps to keep the formula stable.
Are Ceramide Supplements Irritating for Skin?
There are lots of ways you can assist your body’s natural ceramide production.
Typically, supplements come in the form of ceramides for skin, but it’s possible to find oral ceramide supplements (and you can even supplement with ceramides for hair!).
Whichever way you prefer to use ceramides, you can rest easy knowing that ceramide supplements tend to be very gentle.
That being said, it’s always a good idea to spot-test a new product on a small patch of skin prior to slathering it all over your face.