Our skin barrier is our body’s frontline defender, shielding us from environmental aggressors and maintaining our skin’s hydration and health.
This barrier consists of a complex system of lipids, including one often misunderstood molecule: cholesterol. While we often think about it exclusively regarding dietary and heart health, cholesterol is a dynamic lipid that, when applied topically, can turn back the hands of time and revolutionize your skincare routine.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance belonging to a class of molecules called sterols. Its unique ring structure has a hydrocarbon tail on one end and a hydroxyl group (OH) on the other, giving the substance rigidity and fluidity. Unlike some fats that dissolve in water, cholesterol is hydrophobic, meaning it does not mix with water.
Cholesterol isn’t just something you ingest from food. Our bodies naturally produce it in the liver and then distribute it to various organs. Besides its role in aiding the production of vitamin D, hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and aiding digestion by producing bile, cholesterol is present in our cell membranes.
Every cell in our body has a protective outer layer called a cell membrane, which acts like a selective barrier controlling what’s allowed in and out of the cell. Maintaining the membrane’s integrity and function requires a careful balance of lipids, including cholesterol.
Cholesterol sits between phospholipids in the cell membrane to keep the membrane fluid and flexible. Without adequate cholesterol, our cell membranes would become too rigid.
Moreover, because of its hydrophobic nature, cholesterol keeps water and water-soluble molecules from entering and exiting the cell whenever they want to, a trait called “selective permeability.”
Cholesterol in the Skin
The outermost layer of our skin, known as the stratum corneum, is a protective layer of dead skin cells held together by a mix of lipids, including ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. Think of these lipids as the “mortar” holding the “brick” cells together.
As one of the three primary lipids in the skin’s barrier, cholesterol ensures that the barrier remains intact, reducing the risk of irritants and allergens penetrating the skin.
It also prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL), keeping the skin hydrated by preventing moisture from evaporating. A compromised barrier lacking in cholesterol leads to dry, flaky, and irritated skin, while a cholesterol-rich barrier retains the skin’s natural moisture leading to plump, hydrated skin.
Cholesterol in Skincare Products
Skin lipids, including cholesterol, tend to decrease with age, making our skin look drier, with more pronounced wrinkles and increased sensitivity to pollutants. Using skincare products containing cholesterol can replenish the lipid layer and fortify your skin barrier.
One of the primary reasons cholesterol has a place in skincare products is because it can replicate the natural composition of our skin’s lipid barrier, supporting barrier repair and function.
In many formulations, it’s paired with other lipids, particularly ceramides and fatty acids, creating a holistic approach to skin barrier restoration. Together, they harmonize to offer maximum benefits, from hydration to protection, ensuring each component complements the others for optimal skin health.
See the Benefits of Cholesterol With SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
One of our favorite products at Advanced Skin Therapeutics does just that: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. It has a unique, patented lipid ratio of 2% pure ceramides 1 and 3, 4% natural cholesterol and 2% fatty acids.
The Triple Lipid Restore goes beyond mere hydration. Its formulation restores the skin barrier and nourishes aging skin, directly addressing concerns like dryness, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity.
Regular use shows noticeable improvements in skin smoothness, a reduction in laxity, minimized pores, and an overall radiant glow. It’s the kind of radiance that comes not just from a surface-level shine but from deeply nourished and healthy skin.
If you’d like to try SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 for yourself, please call us to place an order at 952-915-6000 opt. 5.