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What are the benefits of ceramides?

What are the benefits of ceramides?

Ceramides are lipid molecules found in high concentrations within cell membranes in the upper layer of the skin. They hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and holds moisture. They also act as a barrier against bacteria and environmental pollutants.

In skincare products, ceramides are used to replenish the natural lipids that are lost from exposure to harsh environmental factors, use of drying products and during the natural aging process. They restore moisture, reinforce the skin’s natural barrier and help protect it against harm from foreign elements. Ceramides are also particularly effective in treating eczema. People who have eczema have fewer ceramides in the outer layer of their skin compared to people with normal skin. People with psoriasis also have deficiencies of some ceramides, using products that contain ceramides may improve these conditions.

Ceramides make up about 40% of the lipids in the stratum corneum. There are nine different ceramides labeled 1 through 9.

Unfortunately, ceramide levels decline with age. That’s one reason skin becomes drier as a person grows older. Harsh cleansers can also disrupt ceramides and lipids, leading to dry skin. Some medications like cholesterol-lowering drugs can also alter ceramide and lipid levels in the outer layer of the epidermis. Diet plays a role too. Eating a diet that lacks essential fatty acids can disrupt skin’s natural barrier against moisture loss. A certain amount of dietary fat is important for healthy skin. Not surprisingly, people on very low fat diets often have dry, flaky skin due to loss of ceramides and other lipids that help skin retain water. Dietary fatty acids can be found in nuts, seeds, oily fish such as salmon and also avocados.

Because ceramides are so important for skin’s health some brands add ceramides to their products as a way to help ‘top up’ your skin’s own levels. To increase the ability of these ceramides to penetrate, they’re sometimes combined with enhancers to help the absorption into the skin, often made from milk fats called liposomes.

The benefits of ceramides go beyond keeping skin moist and supple, ceramides are also added to some hair care products and conditioners because they bind to the hair shaft making it less porous giving the hair a better shine.

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Natasha Swindell

Natasha Swindell

Skincare Therapist

Mother of two and a lover of natural products. I have been in the professional skincare and beauty industry for over 10 years, although before this I used to be the child who bought new cleansers with my pocket money. Beauty was an early obsession, which I have grown to love even more after learning the importance of looking after your skin.