Ceramides, the “glue” that holds skin cells together, occur naturally in our skin, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t all use a little boost sometimes.
Today, we’re breaking down the importance of ceramides in your skincare routine, covering everything from their molecular structure to the best ceramide-infused, dermatologist-recommended products.
Let’s get started!
The Skin’s Natural Barrier
Chemically speaking, ceramides are a type of lipid, specifically a fatty acid. They are one of the fundamental components of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis, which acts as the skin’s primary barrier against environmental factors while also preventing water loss.
Ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids arrange themselves into a unique structure similar to bricks (skin cells) and mortar (ceramides and other lipids).
This “brick and mortar” structure keeps your skin hydrated by preventing water evaporation and also provides a barrier against potential irritants, such as pollutants and bacteria.
When you have enough ceramides to hold your skin cells together, your skin feels smooth and soft, as it can retain water effectively. Conversely, decreased ceramide levels can lead to issues like dryness and irritation.
Ceramides and Aging
As with many aspects of our skin’s composition, ceramide levels naturally decline with age, leading to dry, rough, and wrinkled skin. Reduced ceramide levels can weaken the skin’s barrier, increasing water loss and vulnerability to external aggressors.
In addition to natural aging, external factors such as UV radiation, harsh soaps, and certain medications can further deplete ceramide levels, making your skin look older than it is.
Given ceramides’ role in skin health, it’s no surprise that they’ve become a sought-after ingredient in skincare products. But not all ceramide-infused products are created equal.
For example, both natural and synthetic ceramides are available in skincare formulations.
Natural ceramides come from plant sources, such as wheat germ or soybeans, while synthetic ceramides are created in a lab. Both types aim to mimic the ceramides naturally found in our skin.
While natural ceramides might appeal to those seeking plant-based solutions, synthetic versions often offer a more consistent product quality.
Choosing the Right Ceramide-Infused Product
With the rising popularity of ceramides, the market is dense with products proclaiming their supposed benefits.
So, how do you choose the right one?
First, look at the ingredient list. Genuine ceramide products should list them clearly, often prefixed with terms like “Ceramide NP” or “Ceramide EOP.”
Secondly, consider your skin type. While ceramides are generally suitable for all skin types, formulations might differ. For example, those with oily skin might prefer a lightweight serum, while those with dry skin might lean towards richer creams.
If you’re unsure where to start with ceramides, we recommend CeraVe. This skincare line features dermatologist-tested formulations rich in three essential ceramides and has a full range of products ideal for any skin type.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- CeraVe Facial PM Lotion is a nighttime moisturizer developed specifically for the face. It penetrates deep into the stratum corneum’s layers to help replace deficient levels of key lipids essential for an effective skin barrier.
- CeraVe Hydrating Mineral SPF 30 provides UVA/UVB protection with 100%-mineral titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, forming a barrier on the surface of your skin to reflect the sun’s rays.
- CeraVe Foaming Cleanser contains three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) that cleanse and remove oil without disrupting the skin’s barrier.
- CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion exfoliates, softens, & smoothes extremely dry, rough, bumpy skin.
- CeraVe Renewing SA Cream has a patented MVE formulation that releases ceramides, niacinamide, and other essential ingredients throughout the day, increasing the skin’s ability to attract, hold and distribute moisture.
- CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream moisturizes and protects your hands from harmful irritants and allergens so they look and feel soft and healthy.