The best way to think about ceramides is that they’re the mean club bouncer… for your skin! They’re the natural protective layer that keeps your skin safe from all the grimy, ill-intentioned dudes that are in line outside. Which means they’re the ones that help to maintain a fun, safe party inside. Read on to understand the science behind these powerful components of the skin!
So what is a ceramide, anyway?
Ceramides are these big, waxy lipid molecules (aka fats). When they band together with cholesterols and fatty acids, they create the stratum corneum of the skin, which is also called the lipid layer. This surface layer of our skin is water-impermeable, which means it doesn’t let water in and it prevents excess water from escaping while keeping nasty little microbes from entering.
The lipid molecules themselves are formed when sphingosine (an amino alcohol) and a fatty acid bond together. Super scientific, we know, but what you need to understand is that ceramides maintain regulatory function, help to increase cell function, and make sure that cells are functioning properly. In other words, they keep your skin functioning normally and properly.
Ceramides will also speed up apoptosis (cell death) when cells are damaged irreparably. As a result, these fatty molecules can actually suppress the formation of tumors when inducing this type of cell death and are often found in parts of the body that need repair.
What do ceramides do when we put them on our skin?
Great question! Ceramides help to replenish that stratum corneum layer of the skin that we mentioned. They also assist in impeding water loss, maintain hydration, and prevent the wrong types of bacteria from bypassing the lipid layer to reach the epidermis.
Who benefits most from the inclusion of ceramides in their products?
Everyone! The world is pretty unkind to our stratum corneum, whether it’s being depleted by stress, weather conditions, or incorrect skincare practices. Ceramides can help ensure our skin is protected as best as possible.
Ceramides are, however, particularly important to those with a dehydrated or dry skin. That’s because if you have dry skin or a skin condition that causes dehydration, your lipid layer needs more significant replenishment. Ceramides are especially beneficial for those with dry-oily skin, as they help to balance the stratum corneum and prevent excessive oil production.