WHAT ARE CERAMIDES?
Ceramides are our skin’s built-in moisturizer . To go further,they are fatty acids called lipids that make up the majority of your uppermost skin layer - the epidermis [2,3].
Ceramides occur naturally and function in maintaining the integrity of your skin by holding neighboring cells together . Ceramides also play a major role in giving your skin the ability to retain water and to function as the primary barrier for your body .
If you have alterations in ceramide levels on your skin, it can lead to diseases such as atopic dermatitis . Atopic dermatitis is characterized as inflammation in the skin that generally presents as a rash and itchiness. Other illnesses associated with ceramide disorders are psoriasis, contact dermatitis and some genetic disorders. Not only impaired ceramide production, but also increased ceramide degradation can play a role in the development of these skin diseases .
Other than diseases, age can affect ceramides. Our bodies can naturally synthesize ceramides for your skin’s needs - as we age it turns into a different story. Ceramide production not only reduces in quantity but also in quality as we age over time. We will talk more about this concept and how to supplement ceramides later.
WHAT DO CERAMIDES DO?
Some notable functions of ceramides are [2,6]:
- Brain and nervous system development : programmed cell death (apoptosis), the cell cycle, differentiation and senescence.
- Permeability barrier for skin: retains the water barrier in the skin.
- Protects skin from environmental damage: improved selective permeability will determine what you do and do not allow into your skin layer.
- Locks moisture into skin: again, the water retention properties.
- Minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: increased water retention helps moisturize your skin and prevent excessive dryness - which leads to those dreaded wrinkles.
HOW TO INCORPORATE CERAMIDES INTO YOUR SKINCARE REGIMEN
As we age, our ceramide concentration in our skin decreases, contributing to dry skin and the enhanced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Using products that contain ceramides is a way to lock in moisture and supplement the lipids you are not producing yourself.
The good news is that ceramides are well absorbed when applied topically, since they are needed on the outermost layer of skin. Another great benefit to using ceramides in skin care is that it is safe for all skin types - dry, combination, oily, acne-prone, etc. . Ceramides can be found in lotions or creams already in the marketplace. Be sure to look for products that contain essential ceramides.
Essential ceramides to look for in skin care are:
- Ceramide 1
- Ceramide 3
- Ceramide 6-II
Another way to get ceramides is through what you eat. If you want to add more ceramides to your diet,consider these foods containing healthy fats :
- Sweet potatoes
No matter how you get your extra ceramides, your skin will thank you. Don't miss out on including this ingredient in your daily skincare routine.
3. Coderch, L., López, O., de la Maza, A., & Parra, J. L. (2003). Ceramides and skin function.American journal of clinical dermatology,4(2), 107–129.https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200304020-00004
4. Meckfessel, M. H., & Brandt, S. (2014). The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,
5. 71(1), 177–184.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2014.01.891
6. Choi, M. J., & Maibach, H. I. (2005). Role of ceramides in barrier function of healthy and diseased skin.American journal of clinical dermatology,6(4), 215–223.https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200506040-00002