What Are Ceramides for Skin + Why Your Mature Skin Will Love Them?

What was once lost, is now found through skin care.
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Apr, 2023
What Are Ceramides for Skin

If you feel something in your skin care is missing but can’t quite pinpoint what, you might want to consider skin care with ceramides—especially if you have dry, mature skin. You may have heard of them or even started using a skincare product with ceramides without even knowing it. But what are ceramides, and how can they improve your skin?

They are molecules that naturally exist in your skin barrier but can also be in skincare products. In fact, ceramides provide major benefits to dry and mature skin.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the world of ceramides and skincare so you can find out what’s so great about these little molecules and how they can change your skin.

What Are Ceramides?

What Are Ceramides

They are a type of lipid, or a fatty compound, that exist in the skin. In the skin barrier, ceramides make up about 50% of the lipids, which play a crucial role in skin barrier function. 

As you may remember, your skin barrier is essential for protecting skin from UV damage, toxins, sensitivity and premature aging from dryness. So, in other words, these are kind of a big deal! 

Along with cholesterol and fatty acids, ceramides help protect the skin by keeping moisture in. Ceramides in particular have water-holding properties, which means they are excellent for locking in hydration. And, just like with collagen, the natural amount of them in your skin decreases with age, which can exacerbate skin dryness, especially in the winter. 

So, what are ceramides? They’re a star player in keeping skin hydrated and protecting the skin barrier, which makes them perfect for mature skin.

Are There Different Types of Ceramides?

Different Types of Ceramides

Now that you know what ceramides are, it’s time to look at the different types of ceramides. 

They can be both natural and synthetic. For example, they exist naturally in oils derived from plants, such as jojoba oil, safflower oil, and meadowfoam seed oil. However, you can also find ceramides naturally in cocoa and shea butter.

Synthetic ceramides function much like natural ceramides, and the good news is that practically all of the ceramides you’ll find in skincare products are vegan-friendly.

Most of them are classified by numbers, with Ceramides 1,2, and 3, and also ceramide 6-II and ceramide 9. However, you’ll most commonly see these on a skincare label as ceramide NP (ceramide 3) and ceramide AP (ceramide 6-II). There are two other types of them, called phytosphingosine and sphingosine, that you may also see on your skincare labels. 

One type of ceramide isn’t necessarily better than another. In fact, different types of ceramides often work together to support the skin barrier, so it’s common to see more than one type in a single product. 

And since they work with cholesterol and fatty acids to make up your skin barrier, it tends to work best with these ingredients, so look for formulas that contain all three of these for the most impact for mature skin.

Benefits of Ceramides for Your Skin

Benefits of Ceramides for Your Skin

They have many benefits, especially for dry or mature skin. Your mature skin will love ceramides because they:

• Help Strengthen the Skin Barrier 

They can help strengthen the skin barrier and prevent the dryness and irritation of skin barrier disruption, resulting in healthier skin. 

• Keep Moisture in Your Skin 

Applying a cream with ceramides topically can dramatically reduce transepidermal water loss from the skin, meaning your skin will naturally retain more of its moisture and glow

• Reduce Skin Sensitivity 

Since ceramide supports the skin barrier, they may help reduce skin sensitivity, which makes them especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin or those using active ingredients that can trigger sensitive skin, such as retinol

• Help with Skin Disorders

Acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may all benefit from ceramide use, especially since ceramide can support the skin barrier and prevent irritation and sensitivity. 

• Improve Skin Texture 

Since ceramides are emollients and help reinforce the structure of the skin barrier, they can improve skin texture, making them a secret weapon against wrinkles and rough skin texture in dry and mature skin. 

With all the benefits of them, it makes sense that they have taken center stage in anti-aging skincare products and in those designed to restore the skin barrier and reduce sensitivity.

When to Use Ceramides in Your Skincare Routine

Ceramides in Your Skincare Routine

You can start using ceramides in your skincare routine even if you have other active ingredients in your regimen, such as retinol, vitamin C or AHAs and BHAs. Fortunately, these molecules are easy enough to add to your routine.

Ceramides tend to play well with other skincare ingredients, and even people with sensitive skin can tolerate them well. In fact, they may even help improve sensitive or acne-prone skin, since they help restore the skin barrier.

Depending on the product, these can be used as the middle or last step in your skincare routine. For example, if you’re using a serum with ceramides, this would come after your cleanser and toner. However, if you’re using an oil, it would be the last step (besides your sunscreen, of course).

These are different from hyaluronic acid, another superstar for combating skin dryness. Whereas hyaluronic acid is a humectant and helps draw water to the skin, ceramides are in the emollient category of moisturizers, meaning they help improve skin texture by filling in dry or damaged areas on the surface of the skin. So you can definitely use both in your skincare routine, but use hyaluronic acid first, if possible.

As with any skincare product, it’s essential to look at all the ingredients to ensure they are safe for your particular skin type, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Let’s Find Out Your Skin Type

Now that you know the answer to the question “What are ceramides”, it’s time to check YOUR skin type. Your skin type can actually change with age, especially as lower ceramide and collagen levels make us more prone to dry and mature skin. Find out your skin type now so you can start looking for the best skincare products that include these for amazing skin!

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