How Do Ceramides Improve Your Skin?

If you've ever tried to decide what's best for your skin and what moisturizing products to include as part of your skincare routine, it's likely you've come across ceramides in ingredient lists. But what exactly are ceramides, and how do they improve your skin when implemented as part of your skincare routine?

Ceramides are a type of fatty acid that occurs naturally in your skin to protect it by creating a skin barrier, aiding in hydration, and protecting against infection. Between 30% and 40% of the outer layer of your skin, which is called the epidermis, is made up of them (via WebMD). Though ceramides do occur naturally, the amount of them in the skin decreases with age and outside factors like sun exposure. Luckily, ceramides can also be applied on the skin to assist with hydration and repair skin that has become dry and cracked. If the skin's natural barrier becomes damaged, then making sure that ceramides are in your routine can be a way to repair it. 

Applying ceramides can keep your skin moisturized

Because they're part of the skin's natural barrier, ceramides can be used by people with every skin type. Ceramides can help your skin stay healthy by ensuring the skin's barrier is not damaged. When the skin's natural barrier is healthy, it helps to keep the skin moisturized and to protect it from outside bacteria and infections. A lack of ceramides in the body can lead to conditions like atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, and dry skin, per WebMD.

Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a board-certified dermatologist, told Byrdie that synthetic ceramides for skincare are usually mixed into moisturizers, although they can also be put into other skincare products such as serums and face washes. Levin said that adding ceramides to your skincare routine is especially beneficial as you enter your 30s and 40s, which is the age when people begin to lose more ceramides.

How to include ceramides in your skincare routine

Ceramides can be found in cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers. There are nine types of ceramides that can be found in the skin, so they may appear differently on different labels. The important thing is to look for "ceramide" in the ingredient list, though it may be followed by letters like AP, EOP, or NP. Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist, told Byrdie that most of the functions of ceramides are not different enough to warrant concern. 

Look for active ingredients that include retinoids and glycolic acid since they help ceramides seep deeper into the skin. You can also look for products that have anti-inflammatory agents in order to improve the ceramide's effect on your skin (via WebMD). If you're unsure what products to use and which skincare products aren't worth your money, work with your dermatologist to create a curated routine that utilizes products that are in line with your skincare goals and that will get you on your way to healthier, glowing skin.