A Closer Look: Ceramide Benefits for Skin
Restoring moisture-stripped skin is difficult, especially without the right assistance. Could ceramide cream and cleansers be the answer to your weathered woes?
Moisturizers and hydrating cleansers are typically the first place to look when you need to replenish chapped skin. In particular, more and more consumers are turning to one popular hydrating ingredient, ceramides, in hopes of reviving their skin’s supple freshness of seasons past.
The hype around ceramides is largely due to its restorative reputation within our epidermis, as well as the role it plays in maintaining a strong skin barrier to help lock in moisture. Better yet: there’s scientific research (1) that suggests topical ceramide cream solutions ACTUALLY work in repairing damage - no BS detected!
If skin conditions, environmental changes, or general dryness have you experiencing dull irritated skin, ceramides could be your new go-to for a ~mega~ moisture boost; here’s why.
Where are ceramides found naturally?
Our epidermis is composed of five layers: the innermost stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the outermost stratum corneum, or SC for short.
Ceramides are found within the outermost stratum corneum layer, which consists of a structure built by a “brick and mortar” pattern. Flattened corneocytes, the “bricks”, are embedded in a lipid-enriched (aka fatty) extracellular matrix, the “mortar”, which are organized in parallel stacks called lamellar bilayers (2).
Your bilayers are a blend of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol. Playing the biggest role of these three lipids, ceramides alone make up about ~50% of your total skin barrier.
Altogether, these lipids create a water-repelling effect that keeps moisture from escaping your skin’s surface and prevents external toxins from absorbing into the delicate structure beneath. Simply put, having a healthy level of ceramides gives your stratum corneum the superhuman strength it needs to fight back against water evaporation and block harmful bacteria from getting into your skin’s most critical layer.
Why does skin age?
As we get older - usually around our early 30’s - it’s normal for the stratum corneum to weaken. Physical signs such as fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, irritation and redness tend to develop as well, partially due to decreased ceramide levels aka another side effect of *sigh* aging (don’t remind me 🤫 ).
In turn, moisture that was once protected behind a strong shield begins to escape through the damaged skin, effectively drying out your complexion. A thin skin barrier also means pollutants can easily penetrate it, causing further irritation and acne in some cases. Someone with eczema, for example, has significantly lower ceramide levels than someone with a more balanced skin barrier which plays a big role in exacerbated symptoms (1).
Are you drinking a good amount of water, applying your lotions/oils nightly, and practicing good skincare hygiene?
Does your skin condition have you experimenting with a variety of different topicals to minimize side effects?
Despite all of your valiant efforts, are you still experiencing one or a few of the symptoms above? If you answered yes, this may mean it’s time to become BFFs with ceramide skin care!
To back this theory further: a recent study compared a ceramide cream to a simplified, placebo version, which contained zero ceramides or natural moisturizing factors, and a small variety of other over-the-counter moisturizers. Of those creams, the ceramide cream showed the most significant improvement to hydration levels over a four week period (1), proving its effectiveness in repairing weak points in the epidermis for the long term.
In short, adding ceramides to your ritual isn’t about adding water back in, it’s about repairing and retaining what’s already there.
Effective application and restoration using ceramide moisturizer
A common misconception about moisturizers is that they add nutrients back into your skin; rather, most moisturizers only prevent/reduce water evaporation for the short term and lack real repairing ingredients (1). Rather, a ceramide moisturizer will mimic the function of the weakened skin barrier while adding ceramides back into your stratum corneum, providing longer lasting relief and promoting skin health.
As most skincare aficionados know, water is a necessary piece of the puzzle for healthy, strong skin, so keeping it locked in is essential to preventing dryness. Because of its restoring and moisturizing qualities, ceramide cream is quickly becoming a favorite option for those dealing with a deficient dermis.
However, even ceramides need help to perform at their best, so you’ll want to consider other factors that may alter effectiveness. Most importantly, use hypoallergenic, non-sensitizing, fragrance free and non-comedogenic products, as these are gentler on sensitive damaged skin. Be especially wary if you’re actively using acne cleansers or retinol, as those could cause further dryness.
NOTE: Currently, little to no scientific evidence exists to prove the effectiveness of oral ceramide capsules. I suggest sticking to topical solutions for best results!
Ceramide cream, but make it budget-friendly
Ok, so I’ve (hopefully) convinced you by now that ceramides are the shit, and you’re bursting with excitement to try them out for yourself. Hell, I’m tossing a few ceramide cleansers into my cart as I type!
If you’re familiar with specialized creams and cleansers, though, you’re aware that prices can vary heavily depending on where you go and what ingredients you’re shopping for. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find affordable ceramide cream brands, like Aveeno or CeraVe, in drugstores across the country (both also show decent reviews online).
If you’re not ready to commit to an expensive formula but you’re still curious to try a ceramide cream for yourself, this is a safe place to start - just don’t forget to double-check that it’s a gentle formula, too! 🧐
Of course, we may have some products of our own for you to try in the future… be sure to sign up for our newsletters and be the first to know what we have up our sleeve. ;)
In the meantime, give it a go to see how ceramides can help you put your best face forward.
Written by Adrianne Neal