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What Are Ceramides?

These fat molecules are responsible for making your skin stay healthy and hydrated.
September 25, 2023

It feels like there’s always a new skin care ingredient or buzz word to learn about — but what's trendy may not always be what's best for your skin. Trends will always exist but they can't take away from the efficacy of tried-and-true ingredients our skin needs, such as hyaluronic acid, retinol, SPF and ceramides. You’ve probably heard the word ceramides tossed around before and spoiler alert — they’re really important as they help make up the skin barrier. 

As your largest organ, your skin and especially the skin barrier is crucial in protecting you from external aggressors, like infections, chemicals, and allergens, according to a study from the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Today, we’re diving into all things ceramides, including what they are, how they keep dry skin ,how they keep fine lines and wrinkles away, and how to keep your ceramide levels — and your skin — healthy-looking.

What Are Ceramides?

“If we look at our skin as a brick wall, the cells are the bricks, and the ceramides are the mortar,” says Dr. Michelle Henry, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant. “The ceramides are what envelope the cells, and they help to waterproof the skin, keeping the good things in and the bad things out.” 

Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that help maintain moisture reserves in the skin, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. They exist in the skin barrier, which helps to protect your layers of skin from the outside world. Approximately half of the intercellular lipids in your skin are ceramides, according to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology

Since the entire point of any solid skin care routine is to hydrate the skin and keep it moisturized, it makes a lot of sense why ceramides are so important. Unfortunately, as we age, the sheer number of ceramides that our body produces decreases, and as a result, skin can appear dry and wrinkles can start to set in, as per the  the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). A loss or imbalance of ceramide levels can happen at any age, however, and lower ceramide numbers can result in skin sensitivities, irritation and dullness.

Why Are Ceramides Important?

We’ve already touched on the importance of ceramides, but let’s dive into the nitty gritty of what they exactly do. Although scientists are still learning more about the skin barrier and ceramides, according to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, most skin disorders, such as eczema and rosacea, have shown a decrease in total ceramide levels. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, ceramides protect your skin from toxins, pollutants and allergens, allowing it to stay strong, healthy and hydrated. Ceramides are extremely beneficial for those with dry, sensitive skin, but as we age, their function becomes even more important because we naturally lose ceramides, which results in dry, dull skin and more noticeable wrinkles. 

How Can You Replenish Your Ceramide Levels?

Research from the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology has confirmed that using topical products that contain ceramides, could help you maintain a protective skin barrier. The AAD specifically recommends that those with sensitive skin use moisturizers that contain lipids like ceramides to help improve their compromised skin barrier.

Adding ceramides to your routine is easier than you might think — and no, you don’t need a prescription from your dermatologist (although if you’re suffering from any of the aforementioned skin conditions, it would be best to consult a board-certified professional). 

Most facial and body moisturizers that contain ceramides are labeled as such. According to Dr. Henry, ceramides play well with other ingredients so you can use them morning and night with your vitamin C, retinol and acid serums. Furthermore. Dr. Henry also recommends including multiple products with ceramides in your routine to boost hydration. For instance, a ceramide serum and moisturizer layered in the same routine can improve skin barrier function and moisture levels.

Can I Use Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides Together?

According to Dr. Henry, ceramides and hyaluronic acid pair well together because they both boost skin hydration, and there’s no worry of using either ingredient in excess. A great way to get the benefits of both of these ingredients is with a face cream already formulated with both, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. This lightweight moisturizer works to plump fine lines and wrinkles and lock in moisture while it strengthens the skin barrier. It’s suitable for all skin types as it provides effective hydration without feeling heavy or greasy. 

Use it twice a day, in the same routine with the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Layering moisturizer on top of your hyaluronic acid will make it more effective because it provides moisture that the HA can draw into the skin. 

Next: Follow These 10 Tips to Transition Your Routine From Summer to Fall Skin Care

Photo Credit: Getty Images 

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