What is Ceramide: Everything You Need to Know
Moisturizing and anti-aging have always been hot topics in skincare. You will see all the biggest skincare brands market their anti-aging creams with larger-than-life claims and even more flashy marketing campaigns.
While it is true that all of us want some form of long-lasting youth, these creams seldom do what they claim. However, there is one thing in particular that shows a lot of promise when it comes to skincare, and that is ceramide.
It surely isn't the fountain of youth many of us hopes for, but it is quite an interesting thing to look into. In this article, we will take a deep dive into everything you need to know about ceramide.
We will take a look at what ceramide is, what are its uses in skin care, and also its structure, along with a lot of other things. So, without further to do, let us get started.
What is Ceramide
Let us start with the basics. What is ceramide? Ceramides are waxy lipid molecules (fatty acids) that are found in the upper layer of the skin. They are most abundant on the uppermost layer of the skin and make up about 50% of the skin's composition.
So naturally, you can see why there is such a buzz around the term. Ceramide plays a big role in how your skin feels, looks, and responds to the environment.
Ceramides are said to have benefits to brain and nervous system development and are even being tested in some treatments of cancer.
Alright, with the basics out of the way, it is time to get a little deeper into the science of it all. What do ceramides actually do? Turns out, they do quite a lot. The primary function of ceramides is to hold your skin cells together.
Ceramides create a protective layer. This layer functions as one of the defense mechanisms to fight against pollution, moisture loss, and keeps out microorganisms. That is not all that ceramides do.
They are also responsible for supporting the skin's healthy and dynamic nature. Ceramides can help you hide signs of aging. Peptides, retinol, and niacinamide all help with anti-aging but not quite like ceramide.
What Can Ceramide Do for My Skin?
That is the wrong question to ask. What you really should be asking is what can ceramide NOT do for your skin. A lot of people around the world suffer from dry, flaky, or dehydrated skin.
Using high-quality products that contain ceramides can improve your overall skin conditions quite a lot. You can get back that natural glow and moisture. In fact, one of the most popular uses of ceramide in skin care is moisturizing creams.
By using ceramide, you not only have softer and more moisturized skin, but your skin becomes healthier and firmer as well. Ceramide strengthens the skin from the inside out and gives you a long-lasting and effective solution.
You might be asking yourself, "Wait, my skin already contains ceramide? Why do I need to apply it all over again?". Glad you asked. Yes, your skin already has natural ceramide.
However, over time due to sun damage and natural aging, your natural ceramides lose their effectiveness and are diminished over time. This is not something to worry about, though. It is a natural part of the aging process.
As you age or have more exposure to the sun, your body's ceramide levels will naturally decrease. With the proper care and procedure, you can restore your natural ceramide. In some cases, you can actually get back a significant portion of your natural ceramide back.
That is a major reason why you see so many skincare products mention they have ceramide in them and why so many people use them. These products can actually have quite a positive effect on your skin.
Especially if you already suffer from dry or flaky skin.
Ceramide is also found in food form. Well, they are mainly found in plants and are called phytoceramides, "phyto" meaning "of a plant", so this simply means that they are plant-based ceramides.
Most supplements have synthetic ceramides or phytoceramides, synthetic ceramides are just ceramides produced in a lab. Not to worry however, as phytoceramides, synthetic ceramides, and your natural ceramides are all so similar that they do the same jobs so you DON'T have to be picky.
These supplements have a lot of benefits. People who take these supplements tend to see very positive skin health overall. The skin is more hydrated, less flaky, and overall better moisturized. You will find a lot of big brands like BRI, making these phytoceramides supplements for people to take.
Although there is no hard proof that whether it is better to take food supplements or use ceramide-infused skincare products, whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure. Ceramide does have a lot of benefits.
Can You Do Something About Ceramide Depletion?
Why yes, you absolutely can. Ceramide loss is a natural thing and will happen over time and with sun exposure. There are some precautions you can take and be proactive about the whole matter.
This will lead you to lose fewer ceramides over time. Here are some of the steps you can take to stop ceramide loss:
We know how it can be. You come home after a long and stressful day, and all you want to do is take a long hot shower and stay in there for ages listening to music and just chilling.
While that may sound really relaxing, this is actually not good for your natural ceramides. Dermatologists recommend shorter showers, with 10 minutes being the absolute maximum.
As for warm water, you can rejoice. You do not need to give up showering with warm water; for the best results, try showering with lukewarm to warm water.
After Shower Routine
There are some procedures you need to follow right after you are done showering as well. When you are done showering, you need to dry yourself, duh. But here is the problem.
Most people use a towel and run their skin furiously to dry themselves down. Instead, try to pat down your skin and dry your skin that way. This protects your skin and also helps you retain ceramides in the long run.
It is also recommended to apply moisturizing cream right after showering. The best time is when your skin is a tad bit damp still. Here you can use a moisturizer that already has ceramide as a key ingredient.
We will touch on how you can tell which products contain ceramides a bit later on in the article. So, keep on reading.
Get a Humidifier for Your House
Having your surroundings at the right humidity is always a good idea as well. If your skin is especially dry and itchy during the winter, getting a humidifier to make your house more comfortable will help a ton.
According to our research, the ideal humidity level for your skin is around 50-60%. That isn't always easy in some parts of the world so it may be more practical to just aim for 30%+ and you should be fine.
If you are anything like me then you are tired of hearing this one, but it is said over and over again for good reason. A lot of food will help with your ceramide production and help you retain those healthy levels for a longer time.
Dietitians recommend eating a lot of brightly colored food if you want to retain and produce more ceramide as you grow older. Foods like spinach, dairy, eggs, soybeans, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are very good natural sources of ceramide.
How to Check a Product for Ceramide
If you are buying skincare products and want to make sure you are getting the right one, it is probably best to double-check if it has ceramides or not. Checking this is pretty easy.
Most ceramide creams will advertise ceramide on their creams pretty boldly these days. You will see writing in large fonts on the front or even in the product name as well. This is not always the case however.
Some products might say they have sphingosine and/or phytosphingosine as ingredients. These are what we call ceramide precursors. They act as substances that promote ceramide growth in the body. Phospholipids are another ingredient that tends to get overlooked.
Having said that, the chances of ceramide being advertised boldly on the cream is much more common since it has so many benefits when it comes to skincare, and has been gaining traction in the industry for years now.
Ceramide Types and Natural vs. Artificial Ceramides
There are ceramide types too. There are quite a lot of types. They range from numbers 1 to 9. The difference is just the fatty acids and the length. The nature of the sphingoid bases and how the two entities attach are also different.
Although there are slight differences, all types of ceramides seemingly serve the same purpose. So don't overthink it, or only focus on 1 type over another, rest easy and just confirm that it has 1 of the 9 known types.
Natural vs. Artificial
When we say natural and artificial ceramide, we are referring to two things. Natural ceramide is, of course, that exists naturally in your body. Or on the outer layer of your skin, to be more precise.
"Artificial ceramide," on the other hand, is referred to those that do not originate from any animal sources. As mentioned previously they are made in a lab.
Yes, the ceramide you can find in creams can be synthetic; structurally, they are very similar. When mixed with fatty acid and cholesterol, it looks very similar to the naturally occurring ceramide compounds.
In other words, there is practically no difference between the ceramide your body produces naturally and the ones you can get over the counter in creams and moisturizers.
Natural and artificial ceramide are bio-identical, in fact. They are almost the same substance, function the same, and have the same structure as well.
Here is something unique to ceramide products in a sense. When it comes to ceramides and ceramide products, the packaging is very important. For ceramide products to remain effective, they need to come in special packaging. They need to be packed airtight and away from sunlight.
Otherwise, the ceramide will lose its effectiveness rendering the cream practically useless. That is why packaging matters quite a lot with ceramide. Most people are unaware of this fact.
That is why they may end up buying products that have poor packaging and then see no benefits after using the products. This is simply because the ceramide has lost its effectiveness because of bad packaging.
Skin Types and Ceramide
Not to go on too much of a tangent here, we would like to mention another huge plus for ceramide. Since ceramide is a part of the human skin already, you can use ceramide creams on all kinds of skin.
Whether you have sensitive skin, irritable skin, or are prone to breakouts, there is one key thing you need to keep in mind, though. Ceramides of all types have no known or proven side effects so make sure the toner, cream, or whatever product you use is chemical-free, irritant-free, and also fragrance-free. Keep these things in mind and you should face no problems with ceramides products at all. It is never the ceramide in the products that causes the issues, its always the extras added in so pay attention to those ingredients and do your spot test to be safe on ALL new products.
Does Ceramide Only Help with Skincare?
Not completely. Ceramide can also be used to provide care for your hair. They are some of the best ways you can fight damaged or dry hair. You will find many shampoos advertise ceramide in their ingredients. If you are suffering from dry hair, trying out a ceramide shampoo may just be the way to go.
They act as a natural conditioning agent. When using a ceramide shampoo or a hair product that has ceramide in it, you essentially lock all the nutrients in and make the shaft of your hair stronger.
It is for this exact reason that so many people who have used ceramide shampoos see a lot of benefits when it comes to ceramide products on hair.
So What Did We Learn About Ceramide?
Ceramide, it seems, is one of the most important things since sliced bread – well, for skincare at least. A lot of skin troubles can actually be avoided if you have the right knowledge and know-how.
A lot of people are still unaware of ceramides and how important it is for proper skincare. Hopefully, after reading this article, you now know everything about what is ceramide.
You can make more informed and better decisions about your skin health and enjoy the confidence and peace of mind that comes from knowledge.