What to Know About Ceramides for Skin

May. 11, 2022

If you've been paying close attention to the ingredients in your skincare products, then you've probably noticed that ceramides are often listed as one of the main ingredients in your favorite moisturizers, body lotions, serums, and cleansers. But what exactly are ceramides and how do they solve problems for your skin?


What is Ceramide?

Naturally found in high concentrations in the outermost layer of the skin, ceramides are the waxy lipids or fats that form part of the skin barrier. "They make up more than 50% of the skin's oil composition. Ceramides are composed of sphingomyelin and fatty acids. As part of the lipid bilayer, they are found in high concentrations in cell membranes. In the skin, ceramides are some of the fatty components of the sebum or skin oil we secrete.

Ceramide 3

 Ceramide 3

How Ceramides Benefit the Skin?

As a natural moisturizer for the skin, ceramides help protect the skin by forming a protective layer that helps prevent moisture loss and protects the skin from environmental aggressors. They play an important role in preventing dryness, dehydration, and premature signs of aging. "Ceramides act as a linker between epidermal skin cells - similar to cement between wall tiles - to help seal the skin barrier, protecting deeper and preventing moisture loss.


However, continued exposure to pollution, sun damage, and the natural aging process can reduce the production of ceramides over time and affect the way they work in the skin. Without ceramides, the skin becomes dry and cracked. In turn, this can expose the inner layers of the skin to various toxins and allergens in the environment, making it inflamed and itchy.


Because ceramides are naturally present in your skin, they are safe for every skin type, especially those dealing with skin problems exacerbated by dryness. Ceramides are perfect for addressing dry, flaky or 'broken' skin and treating eczema. They are particularly beneficial for patients with atopic dermatitis who have a genetic defect in the skin molecule filoprotein that causes ceramide deficiency. Topical ceramides can help 'fill the cracks' between epidermal cells to form a smooth, more complete protective skin barrier that helps prevent moisture loss and minimizes skin irritation from external substances.

Ceramide NP

 Ceramide NP


Ceramides in skincare products

Topical ceramides mimic the natural oils in the skin, making them effective when used in combination with other moisturizing ingredients such as fatty acids, cholesterol, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin". You'll often see some of these already combined in various topical moisturizers.


Most, if not all, skincare ingredients work well with ceramides because they are neither acidic nor alkaline, and they do not degrade other ingredients. As for moisturizers, they can help seal in moisturizing ingredients and can even be layered underneath oil-based ointments to smooth and seal the skin barrier, while ointments provide a waterproof top layer.


As an anti-aging ingredient, ceramides can also be used in conjunction with other powerful substances such as retinol and acids. [Ceramides] soothe the skin and prevent the skin barrier from being disrupted, which can be a side effect of these medications. These combinations may even contribute to the effectiveness of ceramides if the top layer of skin is exfoliated so that they can better penetrate the skin. Retinoids and actives should be used first and then 'sealed' with ceramides.

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