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What are Ceramides and Why Does Your Skin Need Them?

Strong barrier function is essential for healthy skin and now is the perfect time to make it a focus in your routine, just in time for winter.

If you look at human skin under a microscope, the easiest way to describe its appearance is like a flat wall. Your skin cells are the bricks and Ceramides are the mortar, the glue that holds everything together. Naturally present in the skin, Ceramides are a family of lipids that make up around 50% of the skin barrier, the majority of which are found in the top four layers of the epidermis. A high concentration of Ceramides means the skin barrier can function effectively, working to keep vital moisture in and unwanted irritants out. However, if the balance of Ceramides is out or their levels drop significantly, this is when problems like dryness, sensitivity and inflammation occur.

Just like collagen and Hyaluronic Acid, your body’s natural production of Ceramides slows down with age, most notably after age 30, while the quality of the Ceramides produced also starts to dwindle. This, in turn, affects barrier function and causes tiny gaps or cracks to appear within the epidermal layer. Once the skin barrier has been compromised, it becomes easier for the skin to lose moisture and harder for it to stop bacteria and pollution from penetrating the surface. When this happens, dry skin issues like dermatitis and eczema become more common and red, unbalanced skin starts to become the norm.

By using products that contain Ceramides, you are essentially helping to rebuild the skin’s essential barrier where it counts. Strengthening the glue that keeps the skin strong and supple means that not only does the quality of the skin improve, but the chance of future imbalances occurring significantly decreases. Most brands will contain either plant-based or synthetic Ceramides, with the latter being more effective at rebuilding, smoothing and plumping the skin. Those with dry, sensitive and prematurely aged skin will respond well to creams and lotions that contain Ceramides but, as they are naturally present in the skin, those with combination and oily complexions can still use products formulated with Ceramides to maintain overall skin health.

Want to incorporate more Ceramides into your skin care routine? Try one of these:

For daily skin barrier maintenance, the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 cream contains a blend of Ceramides, Cholesterol and Essential Fatty Acids to restore strength to a weakened skin barrier while combating the signs of ageing.

On days when the skin feels extra delicate, treat it to the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Tencel Sheet Mask. Formulated with five different types of Ceramides, this quick-working mask supports a weakened barrier while calming inflamed skin.

Created for eczema sufferers, the Epionce Renewal Calming Cream hydrates and rebuilds a compromised skin barrier to help ease dry, red and itchy skin from head to toe.

Finally, the Akademikliniken Cure Recovery Crème contains a wealth of Ceramides to strengthen skin battered by the cold while ensuring it stays balanced, hydrated and calm.

Image from iStockphoto

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