If you were to ask me what my favorite skin care ingredient is, I would, without hesitation, respond with “niacinamide!” It was my first skin care love, and I will never be without it.
But my extremely close second favorite is ceramides. I always make sure to have at least one ceramide-focused skin care product in my lineup at all times. When the seasons start shifting toward cold weather, I immediately start adding more.
So, why the love affair with ceramides? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Cozy Up With Some Ceramides
Before I tell you about why I love them so much, let me give you a little background on what ceramides are.
The uppermost layer of our skin is called the stratum corneum, and it’s home to the protective layer of lipids (aka good fats!) that helps to keep our skin healthy and hydrated. Ceramides account for 50 percent of this barrier, so they’re obviously pretty important, right?
When your moisture barrier is lacking in ceramides, it can’t do its job, which can lead to dehydrated, irritated, or acne-prone skin.
When your moisture barrier is lacking in ceramides, that means it can’t do its job of keeping in moisture and keeping out potential irritants. This is why a compromised barrier usually leads to dehydrated, irritated, or acne-prone skin.
Unfortunately, even though your skin naturally produces ceramides, it’s pretty common to need some store-bought ones to help out. Things like sun damage, harsh skin care, aging, and other environmental factors can all make your moisture barrier less effective.
7 Signs You Probably Need More Ceramides
If you’re not sure about the state of your moisture barrier, go through this list and see if you have any of these issues:
1. Chronic redness
3. Rough, textured skin
4. Dullness or sallowness
5. Frequent skin irritation
6. Increased sensitivity
7. Lack of elasticity
All of those problems can be caused by a damaged moisture barrier. It’s important to remember that there are probably other contributing factors too, so ceramides might not be the magical cure for all of your skin care woes, but they’ll almost certainly help! Giving your skin ceramide support is especially important if you have skin troubles like eczema, rosacea, and acne.
What Ceramides Can Do For Your Skin (aka Why I Love Them)
Ceramides are a super important component of healthy skin. Like I mentioned earlier, they help your skin retain moisture, and they also help to keep out environmental stressors that can cause damage and irritation. They’re like the beefy bouncers that keep the creeps out of the nightclub.
When you have enough ceramides, your skin looks visibly healthy. It’s plump, juicy, radiant, and smooth. It’s also more resilient, and you’ll likely notice that you’re less prone to itching, redness, and fine lines.
Ceramides are especially helpful in winter. Between cold winds and blasting the heater, your poor skin would be sobbing if it had any moisture left for tears.
Ceramides are especially helpful in the colder months because of how much more difficult it is to retain moisture! Between dry, cold winds and blasting the heater, your poor skin would probably be sobbing if it had any moisture left for tears.
One more benefit to adding ceramides to your beauty routine is that your skin will be able to tolerate chemical exfoliation much better. Healthy, ceramide-packed skin responds much better to actives, and you’re less likely to experience the irritation and overexfoliation that often comes with some of the stronger acids.
How to Get More Ceramides Into Your Skin
So, it might stress you out a little if you start looking for ceramide-heavy skin care because there are a lot of different names. You’ll likely see ceramide-3, ceramide-6, and “ceramide” followed by letters like NP, EOP, or AP.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry too much about which ceramides you use, so long as you’re using them. Just find a well-formulated product that your skin likes. There are several different types of ceramides that are found naturally in the body, but for skin care purposes, smearing any of them onto your skin is going to produce basically the same effect.
As an aside, some of you might be wondering if you should also start taking those ceramide supplements that health stores have. Personally, I think that it’s best to stick with topical applications when it comes to repairing your moisture barrier. Remember that your moisture barrier is made up of fats, and ingesting lipid supplements could potentially mess with your cholesterol or have unintended side effects!
My Favorite Ceramides
I’ve mentioned before that my skin is oily and prone to clogged pores, which means that I don’t often get to use the rich, heavy creams that we typically associate with ceramides and barrier repair.
Fortunately, there are so many great ceramide products now that anyone with any skin type can find something that works. Two of my favorites are the Kikumasamune Sake High Moist Lotion and the Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid.
The Kikumasamune is a super lightweight, watery toner that has an amazing list of nourishing ingredients, including ceramides. It does contain placental protein though, so if you’re vegan, this might not be for you.
The Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid is slightly thicker than the Kikumasamune, but it’s still lightweight, easily absorbed and so effective for barrier repair! I usually add it to my routine as soon as it starts getting chilly.
I also really like the Bioderma PP Ultra-nourishing Balm and the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, but I typically only use them on my much drier body skin. If you have dry, sensitive, or compromised skin, these would probably be great facial moisturizers!
I always jokingly refer to ceramides as “the winter soldier,” but the truth is that I love them year-round.
Do you have a favorite ceramide product? Share it with me in the comments!