Our skin barrier is the first line of defence for our body against all external stimuli. This skin barrier also known as the Stratum Cornuem is composed of 50 per cent ceramides. Ceramides are one of the 3 lipids (essentially the glue) that hold the skin cells together. As we age, this glue (skin lipids) deplete in quantity and thus the skin cells aren’t held tightly together. When the skin barrier is intact with the skin cells tightly held together it helps in sealing in the skin’s moisture and reducing the skin’s trans-epidermal water loss. Not just age, but environmental aggression, sun exposure, lifestyle stress and habits, and skincare actives – all contribute towards depleting our skin barrier lipids thereby compromising the skin barrier integrity. Once the skin barrier gets damaged a host of skin conditions like dehydration, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea can start.
To accommodate the lifestyle and aging process that plays havoc on our skin barrier, everyone can benefit by incorporating ceramides into their skincare routine. For starters it replenishes your skin barrier with the lost lipids, making it plumper and less prone to aging. It helps your skin lock in and retain moisture, and reduce the transient water loss from the skin surface. With constant water loss the skin becomes thin, dry and inflamed and more prone to allergies and infections. It also increases hydration in the skin for longer hours and thus gives the skin a well-nourished and softer appearance.
Look for topical products that combine ceramides with fatty acids and cholesterol in the correct ratio, as that comes close to mimicking the skin barrier’s natural composition and therefore there is faster penetration of the ceramides and other 2 lipids into the skin barrier. This type of topical formulation will sink into the skin and fill in the gaps and cracks of the skin caused by lipid depletion and instantly make your skin plumper and supple.
Anyone who suffers from a weak barrier due to genetics (for example those suffering from atopic dermatitis) can benefit immensely from using topical ceramide products that are well formulated to mimic the natural composition of the skin barrier.
Ceramides work for every age group, and it should be an ingredient every person should incorporate into their routine because you can never go wrong with having a fortified skin barrier. It’s also better to take a proactive approach towards maintaining a healthy skin barrier than reactively repairing a damaged skin barrier, because a damaged skin barrier can take weeks if not months to heal properly again.
Ceramides are an expensive ingredient and traditionally they were mostly used in expensive anti-aging creams. But with formulation technologies becoming more accessible with time, we find many ceramide products now in the market today. However, many ceramide products in the market have very low ceramide dosage or concentrations so look for the correct ingredient list when you make a purchase. When in doubt look at the ingredient list and try to spot ‘cholesterol’ and ‘fatty acids’ accompanying the ceramide ingredients in the list.
With inputs from Shamika Haldipurkar, founder of d’you.