Never heard the word ceramides? Perhaps you know them better as lipids or fat molecules. That’s right, ceramides are a type of fatty acids that are found naturally in skin cells. In fact, they make up about 50 percent of our outer layer of skin. Despite the fact that ceramides are naturally produced by humans, similar to hyaluronic acid, the amount our body produces declines over time, leaving behind dull, dry skin. Thus, by supplementing this loss through the use of products that contain synthetic ceramides as you age, there are many potential benefits to gain. Keep reading to discover everything there is to know about ceramides, including the many skincare benefits that can be derived from them.
First, it’s important to note that the only “natural” ceramides are those produced by your body. Thus, when you see a skincare product that contains ceramides, they were created synthetically. However, the good news is that studies have shown there to be no difference between the effects that synthetic and natural ceramides have on your skin. They function the same way and are equally effective. Ceramides can be found in all types of skincare products, including facial cleansers, moisturizers, serums, shampoos, and conditioners. In addition, there are multiple types of ceramides available on the market. They will all have benefits for your skin, but some are especially useful at treating certain skin types, such as ceramides 1, 3, or 6-II, which all aim to treat dry, irritated skin. Now that you know a little more about these fatty molecules, let’s consider their key functions and benefits.
Think of ceramides as your skin’s protector. Ceramides are incredible at protecting your skin, which they are able to do by forming a barrier around the outermost layer. This barrier not only works to prevent external damage to the skin (we’re looking at you, pollution and UV rays), but it also helps lock in moisture, preventing dryness. Studies have linked low ceramide levels to skin conditions like eczema, which makes sense once you realize the important role that ceramides play when it comes to this protective barrier. In line with its function as a protector, research indicates that ceramides also have powerful anti-aging effects. This is because fine lines and wrinkles are more prominent when the skin is dry or irritated, and ceramides prevent this from happening through their ability to retain moisture. Thus, in addition to being your skin’s protector, they also take on the role of your body’s natural moisturizer.
Luckily, ceramides are generally considered safe for all skin types when applied topically. Due to their two main functions, they are often suggested by dermatologists to people with more mature skin, or people who suffer from skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. In addition, ceramides work well with other products. Studies have even shown that using products with ceramides in conjunction with products that contain antioxidants, peptides, or retinol can have major benefits for the skin. However, with all new skincare products, we always recommend doing a patch test to confirm that you have no adverse reactions.