What exactly are ceramides?


We looove ceramides, in fact, we quite simply don’t think we would survive without them. What ingredient makes up any good cleanser, moisturiser or serum? Ceramides! Why does our skin look so good? Ceramides! Why is our phone bill overdue this month? Ceramides!

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But what exactly are ceramides? Ummmm, we’d like to officially phone a friend and divert this question to Paula’s Choice Skincare Research & Education Manager, Desiree Stordahl, please. 

Ok, let’s start with the basics. What even are ceramides?

“Ceramides are lipids (fats) that are naturally present in the skin’s uppermost layers” she explains. 

“Think of them as the mortar between bricks (the bricks are your skin cells). Ceramides keep skin healthily intact together by forming a protective layer that limits moisture loss and protects against environmental stressors.”

Unfortunately for us, as we age and experience sun damage, the protective layer formed by ceramides in the skin begins to deteriorate. 

And the impact on our skin? “Visible dehydration, rougher-looking texture and redness” plus, a weakening of the skin’s barrier which “is one of the contributing factors for wrinkles.”

What can we expect from skin care products formulated with ceramides?

The good news is, those lotions and potions sitting in your bathroom cabinet boasting the effects of ceramides are doing a lot more than just looking pretty. 

“Formulas containing ceramides can help re-strengthen your skin’s barrier and increase firmness as well as hydration, leading to more supple skin with fewer visible lines and wrinkles.”

Are all ceramides created equal? Are some types better than others?

“There isn’t one “best” ceramide to look for—they all work great.” 

But when it comes to picking them out in a long line up of ingredients, Desiree explains “there are several ceramides you can find in skin care formulations, typically listed as “ceramide” followed by two letters such as AP, EOP, NG, NP, or NS, indicating the type.”

We often see the term “ceramide precursors”. What is this referring to?

Ceramide precursors work by helping the skin to create more ceramide on its own. 

“While they aren’t as heavily touted in advertisements (likely because their names aren’t as recognisable), these are actually superstars in their own right.” 

For those who have never heard the word ceramides, let alone been using skin care rich in the stuff, don’t stress. This doesn’t mean you have fast-tracked yourself to an eternity of dehydration, redness and wrinkles. According to Desiree, “research shows you can help overcome this by adding ceramides back into skin topically.” 

And a good place to start? Paula’s Choice CLINICAL Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer.  “[this formula] delivers immediate ceramides and their precursors gives skin the best of both worlds.”

bh also recommends: QV Intensive with Ceramides Hydrating Body WashElizabeth Arden Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsule HydraPlumping Serum

Main image credit: @goop

Did you know what ceramides were? Have you been using them in your skin care?

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Comments 51

  1. The Elizabeth Arden HYALURONIC ACID CERAMIDE CAPSULE HYDRAPLUMPING SERUM had sold out when I was looking at Adore Beauty so I got the plain old advanced ceramide capsules instead which I haven’t used yet.

  2. It seems more and more products include ‘ceramides’ and choosing the right one is more and more a challenge. Yes we do need ceramides in our beauty routines these days though.

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