But what exactly are ceramides, and how do they work?
What are ceramides?Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that occur naturally in the top layer of the skin. In fact, they make up over 50 per cent of the skin’s composition and bond or ‘cement’ the cells together to create a barrier on the skin’s surface.
Ceramides help hold the skin together by forming a protective layer that limits moisture loss and protects against visible damage from pollution and other environmental stressors.
In a nutshell, ceramides help keep the skin hydrated and feeling soft. A damaged skin barrier can lead to redness and inflammation as well as dryness, giving skin a tight, itchy feeling.
Why do we need ceramides in our skincare?Like collagen, our natural ceramide levels naturally drop as we get older, which as you’ve probably guessed isn’t a good thing.
Cold weather, overexposure to the sun and being a little too enthusiastic with exfoliators and cleansers can all disrupt the skin’s pH balance, affecting our ceramide levels. This can lead to drier, rougher skin, wrinkles, irritation, redness and visible signs of dehydration.
Suitable for all skin types, ceramides help to repair and strengthen our skin's barrier, making it much more effective as well as help soothe any inflamed or damaged areas.
What products are best for boosting ceramide levels?Elizabeth Arden introduced ceramides to the beauty market back in 1990 with the launch of the famous ceramide capsules. Today, there are a number of skincare products available and formulated to help restore the skin barrier, replenish ceramide levels, soothe any inflamed areas and leave the skin hydrated and less sensitised.
One high street skincare brand to specialise in including ceramides in their products is CeraVe (the clue’s in the name!), whose creators discovered that a blend of humectants, emollients and ceramides helps to restore the skin barrier.
“CeraVe significantly contributes to the repair process by its slow and constant delivery of ceramides integral to the formation of the skin barrier,” says Dr Christopher Hensby, Expert for CeraVe.
Not only will your skin be instantly hydrated, but the products have been formulated to slowly release their ceramides during the day to give lasting hydration.
If you have budget to spend more, you could also try ZO Skin Health Skin Recovery Creme or Medik8 Advanced Night Restore, both of which contain ceramides.
How can we maintain skin’s ceramide levels?Fortunately, using the right skincare products can help replenish ceramide levels, restore the skin’s barrier and increase moisture levels. Using specially formulated products will not only help restore the moisture levels in your skin, but they can also be therapeutic for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
You can use your ceramide products at any time of the day, but for the best results aim to use them right after you hop out of the shower, while the skin is still damp—this will really help lock in hydration.