By Kristina Rodriguez
If you are a full-fledged skincare junkie like myself, chances are you have seen ceramides listed on ingredient lists for products that offer reparative benefits and which are suitable for sensitive skin. These natural lipids are crucial to maintaining healthy skin. Ceramides are actually found in a multitude of different cells throughout the human body but can be 100% vegan, too.
The outermost layer of the skin is called the stratum corneum—it serves as your skin's first line of defense. It is composed of 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, 15% fatty acids, and 5% additional lipids. In the instance of skin ceramides, these lipid molecules help to bind together the surrounding structures of organic materials and promote optimal cell function.
The primary function of ceramides in the skin is to maintain a healthy and strong barrier. Think of ceramides as the cement between the bricks on a house, creating a barricade to lock in water and moisture and prevent foreign microorganisms from entering the body. For those who experience skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema—although the correlation is not completely understood—barrier function may be compromised or can be diminished and show decreased ceramide content, which is also relevant as we age. Aging is influenced by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors, such as UV exposure, pollution, weather, chemical exposure, genetics, hormonal, and metabolic changes. When any or all of these are present, the skin can appear damaged, dry, hollow, or even thinner and translucent. But ceramides help to ensure the reduction of transepidermal water loss and reduction in loss of moisture and essential nutrients.
A daily skincare routine containing ceramides is useful in supplementing any losses that occur. What you eat and drink can also heavily influence your skin. A diet consisting of superfoods can help from the inside out.
Ceramides are integral in maintaining the overall protective barrier of our skin. We don’t always have complete control over the external environment, but we can manage how we respond to it. Ceramides can work in conjunction with a healthful diet to help rebuild and support your body’s ability to maintain healthy and revitalized skin.