What are ceramides?
It’s the glue that holds your skin together. Ceramides play a key function in structuring and preserving the skin water permeability barrier.
Where ceramics are located?
They are lipids present in stratum corneum (outer layer) of the skin. They hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and holds moisture. They also act as a barrier against bacteria and environmental pollutants.
They not only prevent water loss and offer support, but also give skin a firmer appearance and softer feel by protecting the skin against damage caused by free radicals.
The skin cells are the bricks, and the lipids (or fats) in between them are the ceramides—aka the mortar—that holds them together. When this structure of the stratum corneum is intact and in optimal condition, it maintains hydration and protects the skin, but when it’s not working properly, skin can lose water and get dehydrated, which can lead to dryness and inflammation.
What influences the ceramides?
Ceramides begin to deplete in your 30s, but can be supplemented back into our skin with the help of skincare products. As you age, the ceramide levels in your skin drops and by your 30s, you have lost about 40% of your skin’s ceramides and 60% by your 40s.
Cold, dry air can also lead to a loss in ceramides, as well as damage to the skin barrier from over-exfoliating. Decrease in ceramide content or change in ceramides pattern can lead to various skin disorders. Skin appearance can be improved by topical supplementation of ceramides or any agent that can promote the lipid synthetic capability of epidermis.
Moisturisers with ceramides are not all the same:
Though plants and animals are good source of ceramides, they are not a viable source as the extraction process is laborious and not so economical. So the ceramide used in cosmetic field are synthetic, hence many new ceramide derivatives are present in market. Some companies use fermentation technology to produce ceramides.
While ceramides are beneficial for all skin types to maintain adequate moisture levels and barrier function, they can be particularly helpful for those who suffer from conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Use products with ceramides directly after a shower or bath to lock in moisture. Ceramide-containing skin care and hair care products are the latest trends in cosmetic field.
As for what products to actually use, we asked Dr Gantsho.