What are ceramides?
Ceramides are a class of fatty acids called lipids. They’re naturally found in skin cells and make up about 50 percent of the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
While ceramides are noted for their role in brain and nervous system development, they’ve gained a lot of interest in the skin care world for their potential skin health benefits. Other cosmetic uses include shampoos, deodorants, and makeup.
What do they do for your skin?
Ceramides are made up of long-chain fatty acids that link with other important molecules to promote cellular function.
Ceramides help create a barrier to prevent permeability. This locks moisture into your skin, which helps prevent dryness and irritation. It may also help protect your epidermis from environmental damage.
These benefits may have anti-aging effects. Fine lines and wrinkles are often more noticeable when skin is dry. Locking in moisture may minimize their appearance.
If my skin is already made up of ceramides, why should they also be used in skin care?
Although human skin is naturally made up of ceramides, these fatty acids are lost over time. This can result in dull, dry skin. You may be able to minimize these effects by supplementing your skin with extra ceramide.
What skin types and conditions benefit from added ceramides?
It’s unclear whether your skin’s naturally occurring ceramide levels relate to your risk of developing certain underlying skin conditions. However, research does suggest that people who have eczema or psoriasis have fewer ceramides in their skin.
Although more research is needed, there’s reason to believe that using ceramide-containing skin care products may help soothe related irritation and provide an additional barrier to certain cases of dry skin.
You may also benefit from supplementary ceramides if you have mature skin.
Are skin products preferable over ceramide foods or supplements?
There’s no clear-cut answer to this. People who have certain skin conditions may be more likely to benefit from ceramide supplements, as these treat the underlying condition from the inside out. Ceramide-containing topical products may be more appropriate for dry, aging skin.
Types of ceramide products and routines
Your product selection will depend on your skin type. For example, if you have dry skin, consider a ceramide-containing cream. Creams and ointments contain more moisture and may be less irritating than lotions.
Exactly where you include ceramides in your skin care routine depends on the type of product you’re using.
Creams and moisturizers are used as a last step at night or right before applying sunscreen in the morning. They also work well at trapping in moisture when applied right after a shower or bath.
Ceramides are also available in some skin cleansers. These are used twice a day.