What's a Ceramide Anyway?
What do Ceramides in skincare products do?
Regardless of age, everyone wants their skin to look glowy, radiant, and plump. But the moisturizer that worked so well in your 20s and 30s might not meet the same needs your skin has by the time you hit your 40s and 50s. That’s because, with age, your skin begins to produce less oil and there is a breakdown of elastic and collagen fibers. The skin becomes drier and thinner with more laxity.
This means a proper skin-care regimen needs to include products that strengthen and thicken the dermis, provide moisture retention, barrier renewal, and are not too harsh or abrasive. Just like fat makes food taste better, ceramides make your skin better, keeping it well-moisturized and looking fresh.
Ceramides make up 50% of the skins barrier
But what exactly are they? And what is it about them that makes them so good for you? Ceramides are lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and help skin retain moisture. And it's precisely their lipidic nature that makes them ideal for protecting and strengthening your skin. Since they are lipids and water-resistant, ceramides help act as a sealant between cells and on top of the skin; this prevents the skin from drying and cracking. Ceramides also help the skin protect against environmental aggressors like irritants and pollution.
Although ceramides are produced naturally, they maybe be depleted by exposure to hot water, soaps, certain chemicals, and other environmental factors. Ceramides work especially well for dry and/or aging skin since estrogen loss decreases the ceramide content of the skin. Similarly, they're also great in drier climates and pair well with products that promote cell turnover, such as Retinol.
Are they the key to the fountain of youth...
Everyone needs and uses ceramides naturally, in people with dry skin and conditions like eczema, rosacea, and even acne, we know that ceramide levels in the skin are lower than they should be. This contributes to dryness, sensitivity, and skin inflammation. Ceramides can be a little too rich for acne-prone or oily skin, and can cause clogged pores — but that's definitely not the case for everyone.
But how do ceramides help my skin, exactly?
When your skin barrier doesn’t have enough fat, the hydration and moisture that keeps your face plump, supple, and comfortable can just evaporate into the atmosphere. Commonly known as transepidermal water loss or TEWL, it leaves the skin dehydrated. The weather, dry central heating, general low-humidity environments, air pollution, UV rays, and sun damage depletes ceramides in the skin. That’s not even considering hormonal and genetic issues or diseases that affect skin integrity, like diabetes, or over-exfoliation.
So my ceramides are disappearing?
Don’t get too worked up about depleting ceramide levels, we know that applying products containing ceramides helps to increase your ceramide levels. Applying even the slightest amount may have benefits. Professionals seem to agree that ceramides are pretty much all upside, no matter your routine. Ceramides can be applied day or night, typically in the serum step of your regimen. They can also be used throughout the day. So stock up on serums, moisturizers, essences, masks, and treatments.
What if I want to nourish my skin from the inside out?
Soybeans, eggs, dairy, wheat germ, and brown rice are good sources of ceramides. Canadians love downing supplements that claim to cure a problem, popping pills to get your ceramides might not be the answer because these are lipids, we have to be very careful that we don’t play with our cholesterol, triglycerides, their internal lipids — as these can potentially worsen heart disease or your lipid profile. Check with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement regime, and maybe hold off on the pills until the science on them is rock solid.
Ceramides are a safe bet!
As we age, using gentle products made from high-quality ingredients with less irritants, fragrances, and additives becomes more important. Finding something that will hydrate skin without clogging pores, and can be used year-round, should be a priority for aging skin.