Want to step up your skincare game? Try adding ceramides to the mix. Below, experts break down everything to know about ceramides in skin care—from how they work to the benefits they offer.
If you’re skincare-obsessed, you’ve likely heard about how ceramides are like magic for your complexion. But if you’re not a skincare guru or don’t spend your free time perusing skincare products and supplements at the drugstore, you may not be familiar with ceramides. The world of skincare can be a bit overwhelming—especially when it comes to all of the buzzy ingredients trending on the internet. To help, we put together a guide on everything you need to know about ceramides, which are the fats in our skin cells. After this quick read, you’ll learn what ceramides are, how they can help aging skin, and why you should get to know this superstar ingredient for happier, healthier skin.
What are Ceramides?
Ceramides are a prevalent type of fat in the uppermost layers of your skin that form a natural skin barrier. You can think of them as the glue that holds your skin cells together to keep your barrier intact. They play a role in your skin’s:
Ceramides help create a barrier to prevent water loss in your skin and provide protection from external (and potentially harmful) elements. A properly-functioning skin barrier keeps moisture locked in, which helps decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and increases plumpness and firmness of the skin.
Ceramides are quite important for the overall health of your skin. However, the number of ceramides in your skin declines with age, which is why ceramides are a popular ingredient in anti-aging products. Harsh climates and sun exposure can also reduce the ceramide content in your skin.
Benefits of Ceramides for Skin
We know that ceramides support a healthy skin barrier, but what else do they do, exactly? Below are five key benefits of ceramides for your skin.
1. Ceramides Maintain the Skin Barrier
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and the first layer of defense against harsh weather (think: intense sun or super cold winds), harmful toxins, bacteria, viruses, and more. As the number of ceramides in your upper layers of skin diminishes, your skin barrier is compromised. You can become more susceptible to these irritants, leading to inflammation and infection. A compromised skin barrier could result in dryness, redness, flaking, and even acne.
2. Ceramides Boost Hydration Levels of the Skin
One of the protective roles of ceramides is to maintain water permeability of your skin. This helps lock in moisture to keep your skin adequately hydrated. Dry skin can be rough and have small cracks, which increases your susceptibility to inflammation. As mentioned earlier, lower ceramide levels are associated with dry skin conditions, including eczema. One study found that enzymes involved in ceramide deficiencies are increased in diseased states, like atopic dermatitis. TL;DR: Ceramides help to maintain smooth, glowing skin.
3. Ceramides Reduce the Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Because ceramides help control your skin’s hydration levels, a lack of ceramides can lead to the more visible appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Think about it: Dried fruit, which is fruit with the water removed, often appears wrinkled and shriveled. The same can happen to your skin since ceramides naturally decline as we age. Plump skin (and fruit) is well-hydrated.
Ceramides help boost your skin’s hydration, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to boosting collagen production, maintaining adequate ceramide concentration in your skin to boost hydration can help give your skin a youthful glow.
4. Ceramides Protect Your Skin Against UV Damage
You already know sun exposure can damage your skin, increasing the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and fine lines. And even if you’re putting on SPF, there’s always a chance you might get too much sun. Good news: Ceramides can help protect against damage from the sun.
Skincare products with ceramides can help reduce inflammation and help repair the skin barrier. Even more, moisturizers with ceramides can help reduce pigmentation from the sun (bye, bye pesky sun spots). This is especially important if you have chronic sun exposure.
5. Ceramides Improve Overall Skin Health
Many skin conditions are associated with a reduction in ceramides or altered ceramides. Experts found that many inflammatory conditions, like acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, are associated with changes in the number of proteins expressed in affected skin versus healthy skin. These changes are correlated with lower ceramide levels in the skin.
To help combat ceramide deficiencies in the skin, experts suggest using topical skincare products that contain ceramides and ingesting a supplement with ceramides.
Where to Find Ceramides
Ceramides are most commonly found in skincare products (think: ceramide moisturizers or ceramide serums). However, you can also find them in supplements, like HUM’s Mighty Night. One study found that oral intake of a ceramide supplement significantly increased moisture content of the skin in individuals who previously complained of dry skin. Regularly taking a ceramide supplement can yield impressive benefits (especially if paired with ceramide skincare products).
Another study found that ceramide intake can help decrease hyperpigmentation, redness, and itchiness of the skin. Luckily, none of these studies reported adverse effects or negative side effects.
Food Rich in Ceramides
One way to ingest more ceramides is to add ceramide-rich foods to your diet. To help replace vanishing ceramides in your skin you can consume ceramide-rich foods, including:
- Dairy products, like milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat germ
- Brown rice
Dairy and eggs contain the highest quantities of ceramides. Many plants contain phyto-ceramides (or ceramides from plants), including soybeans, wheat germ, rice, and white peach. Fun fact: White peach is found to have twice the amount of ceramides compared to other fruits.
While you’d have to eat a lot of these foods to consume clinical amounts of ceramides, these are healthful foods that can support your ceramide levels and will promote overall good health, too.
Who Should Consume More Ceramides?
As we’re all aging, we can all benefit from more ceramides in our supplement and beauty routines. However, if you tend to have dry skin, use harsh irritants on your skin, or have excessive sun exposure, ceramides can be particularly beneficial.
If you’re looking to supplement with ceramides, most research has been done with 11 to 70 mg of ceramides daily. Some research also looked at the ingestion of collagen, hyaluronan, and procyanidin for effective skin moisturization.
HUM’s Mighty Night contains 70 mg of ceramides, derived from (certified gluten-free) wheat lipids to help you get your beauty sleep. It works by renewing skin overnight, improving the texture and tone of your skin. Mighty Night also contains a blend of plant botanicals that supports deeper sleep, as well as antioxidants that help reduce free radical damage. After about a month of consistent use, you can expect to see better-hydrated skin.
Ceramides are naturally found in your body, but you may need a little extra help as you age or if you suffer from dry skin to maintain the ceramide content in your skin. As a result, you’ll support your skin’s protective barrier and hydration, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.