Skin Sleuth: What Are Ceramides?
During the winter when your skin is dry and dehydrated, incorporating moisturizing ceramides into your daily skin-care routine can be a game changer. Ceramides can help restore and protect your skin’s barrier to prevent moisture loss. To find out more about the benefits of ceramides, plus how to use them and where to find them, we consulted with Dr. Melissa Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entiere Dermatology in NYC.
What Are Ceramides?
“Ceramides are naturally found in your skin and are a crucial component of the outer protective layer of the skin,” says Dr. Levin. To use an analogy, she explains that your skin cells are like bricks and ceramides are like the mortar between each brick.
When the outermost layer of your skin — i.e. the brick and mortar — is intact, it keeps hydration in and helps protect the skin’s surface. But when it’s not working properly, it causes water loss. “When this ‘wall’ breaks, the skin can become more dry, inflamed and potentially more at risk for inflammatory skin conditions,” says Dr. Levin.
What Are the Benefits of Ceramides in Skin Care?
“As we age, ceramide levels in our skin drop,” says Dr. Levin. “By your 30s, you’ve lost about 40% of your skin’s natural ceramides, and by your 40s, that number goes up to 60%.” Because your skin might be lacking in ceramides, replenishing them via skin-care products can help keep your skin moisturized and looking more youthful.“Restoring your skin barrier function with the help of ceramides can also help keep your skin’s surface protected from pollutants and environmental damage,” she adds.
How to Incorporate Ceramides Into Your Routine
Ceramides are often found in moisturizers, but you can find them in cleansers, serums and more. To kick off your routine, try the CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Facial Cleanser, which contains three types of essential ceramides, plus amino acids and hyaluronic acid. After use, skin feels soft and smooth instead or dry and tight. For a moisturizer, we love the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. It’s made up of 2% ceramides, 4% cholesterol and 2% fatty acids. The combination helps restore the moisture barrier, treat dryness and improve the appearance of signs of aging.
Once you’ve incorporated ceramides into your routine, you should be able to tell that they’re working almost immediately. “Your skin should feel moisturized and hydrated due to a restored skin barrier,” says Dr. Levin.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn