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If you find your skin is desert dry no matter what expensive potions you throw at it, or your sensitive skin is always behaving badly, it could be because you’re lacking in one skincare ingredient: ceramides.

It may not be the newest skincare ingredient on the block but it’s one we should all start learning about because without it your skin could be struggling and therefore acting out.

What are ceramides?

In case you were worried about not having had ceramides in your skincare routine until now, don’t worry because you’re skin actually already has them.

Similar to collagen, our natural ceramide levels deplete over time, which as you’ve probably guessed, isn’t a good thing.

“Ceramides are lipids or fats that occur naturally in high concentrations in the top layers of skin,” explains consultant dermatologist, Dr Ophelia Veraitch. “They make up over 50% of the skin’s composition and play a very important role in protecting your skin from environmental factors like pollution. Ceramides effectively bond the skin cells together to create a barrier within the skin’s surface: a protective layer that plumps the skin and locks in moisture.”

A damaged skin barrier can lead to redness and inflammation, dryness, skin feeling tight and itchy, and even acne, so it’s crucial to take care of it as much as possible.

What are the skincare benefits of ceramides?

Ceramides help strengthen the skin barrier and one of the positive effects of this is fewer fine lines and wrinkles.

Dr Tosin Sotubo, GP and founder of Mind Body Doctor, explains how they work: “First and foremost, they play a big role in protecting our skin. They form a protective layer protecting our skin from sun damage, irritants and other environmental factors. Secondly, this layer keeps our skin hydrated by holding moisture in. This combination is a natural winning anti-aging formula!”

It’s especially beneficial to those that suffer from certain conditions that often result in sore, uncomfortable skin. ‘Those with eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, dryness or those suffering from a compromised protective barrier as a result of sun damage or over-use of active ingredients will notice a significant difference by incorporating ceramides into their daily skincare regimen,” believes Dr Veraitch.

Cocette (Want Management)

Can you prevent your skin from losing ceramides?

As ceramides are produced by the skin, there are a number of reasons your levels might deplete but the main reason is just a natural side effect of aging.

“Unfortunately, as we age, our natural skin ceramide levels reduce. By the time we reach our thirties, we have lost about 40% of our skin’s ceramides. This then increases to around 60% by the time we reach our forties. With this loss we see thinning of the skin and a loss of elasticity. This in turn gives a heightened appearance of fine line around areas such as the eyes and cheeks,” explains Dr Veraitch.

Although it’s normal to lose ceramides, it’s not ideal. Things like cold weather, overexposure to the sun and being overly enthusiastic with exfoliators, can disrupt the skin’s pH balance, affecting your ceramide levels.

But there is hope. There are a number of skincare products on the market that are formulated to restore your skin barrier and replenish ceramide levels. These will help soothe any inflamed or damaged areas, to leave skin hydrated and less sensitized.

Do all skin types need ceramides?

Unlike some ingredients, such as AHAs and BHAs that can upset sensitive skin, ceramides are similar to hyaluronic acid in that they suit pretty much everyone.

“Ceramides are naturally occurring, meaning that they are suitable for all skin types. However, it’s important to look at the formulation you buy and choose a formulation that suits your skin, just as you would any other skincare product,” explains Dr Sotubo.

It’s best to find products including ceramides in formulations you know and love. Dr Veraitch advises, “for oily, acne-prone skin choose a formula better suited to your skin type. Steer clear of rich pore-clogging creams, instead opting for oil-free serums or lightweight lotions.”


Daily Moisturizing Lotion, CeraVe

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Dream Eye Cream with Vitamin C and Ceramides, Youth to the People

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Ceramidin Cream, Dr Jart+

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