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What are Creamides and How to Use Them for Skin Care

7 mins

Andela Patrnogic

Beauty specialists are always talking about the benefits of ceramides. But what exactly are ceramides? Read this article to find out!

You must have heard many skincare gurus singing praises of ceramides and products containing this powerhouse ingredient. 

The fact of the matter is that ceramides are naturally found in our skin and make up a large portion of our lipid skin barrier. 

However, with age, our body tends to slowly run out of ceramides. This is why it is important to add ceramide-containing products to your skincare routine, as it will help in ensuring that your skin stays moisturized, fresh, and plump for longer. 

In this article, we will explore everything there is to know about ceramides for skin and how you can incorporate them into your skincare routine. 

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents:

  • What are Ceramides?
  • Types of Ceramides
  • How are ceramides for skin beneficial?
  • Skincare Products and Ceramides
  • Benefits of using products with ceramides
  • How to choose the right ceramide-containing products
  • What to look for in the ingredient list?
  • Tips for using ceramides effectively
  • Common FAQs about ceramide-containing products

What are Ceramides?

Ceramides are naturally occurring fats present in our skin, making up around 30-40 percent of our outer skin layer (epidermis). They are a part of a complex family of lipids or fats, which are known as sphingolipids. 

ceramides, skin care

There are basically 9 different types of ceramides found in the human skin. They differ on the basis of their carbon chains, however, the function of all of them remains the same. 

If we were to explain it in simple terms, ceramides essentially function as the mortar that binds the brick (skin) together. Just as the mortar keeps everything in place, ceramides help by maintaining the freshness and plumpness of your skin.

Ceramides are very important for the skin as they help in maintaining the skin barrier and locking in the hydration of the skin. So why do we need ceramides for skin if they are naturally occurring? 

Experts say that by the time we reach our 30s, our skin loses around 40% of the ceramides. This increases to 60% when we reach our 40s.

wrinkles, aging skin

Thus, it becomes important to add synthetically-prepared ceramides to your skin. By using ceramide-rich skincare products, you will be able to replenish the amount you have lost.

As you age, it becomes important to add ceramides to your skin so that it can continue looking healthy and plump. Ceramides can be found in creamy formulation in moisturizers with other active ingredients like retinoids and glycolic acid. 

They also work well when used in the form of serums, toners, and cleansers. Using a combination of different products facilitates better absorption of ceramides.

Packaging plays an important role in keeping the formulation of ceramide-containing products stable. The packaging should ideally be done in such a way that minimal air is allowed to enter. 

Ceramides can be found in products under many names like Ceramide EOP, ceramide AP, and ceramide NP. For people who are not familiar with these names, shopping for skincare products can be difficult and confusing. 

This is exactly what we will be covering next.

Types of Ceramides

Ceramides are found in natural and synthetic forms. The natural ceramides are present in the epidermis or the outer skin layer. They are also found in soy (plants) and cows.

product texture

Synthetic ceramides, on the other hand, are pseudoceramides that are artificially made. They are generally considered to be more stable than the naturally-occurring ceramides. This makes it easier to use synthetic ceramides in skincare products.

Ceramides are composed of something known as sphingosine, which is essentially a carbon atom chain with an amino acid attached to it. The ceramide type changes on the basis of sphingosine and the fatty acids binding it. 

Ceramides can be divided into 12 different categories. Here is a list of some of the different types of ceramides that you might find in common skincare products:

  1. Ceramide 1 or EOS
  2. Ceramide 2 of NG/NS
  3. Ceramide 3 or NP
  4. Ceramide 6-II or AP
  5. Ceramide 9 or EOP
  6. Phytosphingosine
  7. Sphingosine

How are ceramides for skin beneficial?

Here are some reasons which explain why ceramides are so important for the skin:

  1. Restoring the skin barrier: The protective barrier of the skin or the stratum corneum can be compromised when you lose the naturally-occurring ceramides because of aging. Other reasons could be excessive exfoliation and using harsh soaps. When this protective barrier is compromised, bacteria can easily enter the skin which ultimately leads to irritation. If you want to keep the skin’s barrier intact, it is important to replenish the ceramides.
  2. Locking in moisture: Ceramides help in maintaining the skin barrier and sealing in the moisture. They prevent dry skin patches from forming on your skin, which usually result from water loss.
    locking in moisture
  3. Protecting the skin: Ceramides also help in protecting the skin from pollution and other environmental aggressors.
  4. Preparing the skin for active ingredients: Ceramides play a very important role in our skincare routine, as they protect our skin from the irritation-causing chemicals that are often present in active-ingredient products.
  5. Reducing the signs of aging: Most people believe that aging skin is the result of breakdown or loss of elastin and collagen. However, a healthy skin barrier is equally important when it comes to retaining youthful skin. Ceramides help in ensuring that your skin barrier remains healthy so that the visible signs of aging are reduced.
  6. Relieving skin inflammation: If the skin barrier (stratum corneum) is not functioning properly, it becomes easier for the skin to get dehydrated. This can lead to transient epidermal water loss, which results in inflamed and dry skin. This type of skin is also vulnerable to skin issues like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Ceramides work in ensuring a healthy skin barrier so none of these issues occur.
  7. Softening and smoothening the skin: If your skin barrier has been compromised, it can lead to flakiness, dryness, and also fine lines. Ceramides help in keeping the skin hydrated from within so that the texture and feel of the skin is smooth overall.

Skincare Products and Ceramides

When your skin is young, it produces a lot of ceramides. However, sun damage coupled with aging skin can lead to a decrease in the quantity and quality of ceramides. This can further lead to the damaged barrier and rough dry patches in the skin. 

The skin also becomes prone to dehydration, redness, and irritation. Ceramide-containing skincare products help in replenishing the levels of ceramides in the skin, which makes the skin look younger, supple, and hydrated.

Synthetic ceramides work by mimicking natural skin oils. When they are combined with other moisturizing ingredients like cholesterol, fatty acids, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid, their effectiveness increases manifold. 

Most skincare products come with a certain combination of moisturizers along with ceramides. Ceramides can be easily paired with different skincare ingredients as they do not degrade the effectiveness of other ingredients. 

skincare products

They are also neither acidic nor basic, so the formulation remains fairly stable. Ceramides work great as moisturizers as they help in sealing the ingredients containing humectants. A layer of ceramide can also be applied underneath greasier ointments so that the skin barrier remains sealed and smooth.

Ceramide-containing skincare products are also known for pairing well their anti-aging products. Ceramides work really well with active ingredients like retinol and acids. The common side effect of these ingredients is the disruption of the skin barrier, which is where ceramides come in. 

The best way to apply ceramides with actives and retinol is by first applying the cream with the active agent, and then following it up with ceramides.

Benefits of using products with ceramides

The main benefit of using a product containing ceramide is hydration. Even for younger adults with adequate ceramide levels in their skin, adding a ceramide-rich cream can help in boosting the skin’s hydration levels. 

hydrated skin

Adding ceramide to your skincare routine can make your skin feel supple and moist. As stated before, ceramide-containing products are great for aging skin as it helps in replenishing the ceramides lost over the years.

People suffering from skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema often have dry skin issues. This is usually because of lower levels of ceramides in your skin. Using a ceramide-rich product can help in restoring the lost moisture. 

How to choose the right ceramide-containing product

The benefits of using ceramide-rich products cannot be ignored. However, it is also important to choose the right product for your skin type. If you have excessively dry skin, a cream containing only ceramides will not work. 

Skincare products with ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II, or phytosphingosine/sphingosine are great for healing very dry skin. Certain agents and anti-inflammatory substances can help in enhancing the penetration level of the ceramides in your skin, besides relieving skin issues.

What to look for in the ingredient list?

If a skincare product has ceramides in it, it will most likely be written on the packaging. We already know that names like Ceramide 1, 2, 3, 6-II, Ceramide EOS, NG, EOP, NS, NP, and AP are all common types of synthetic ceramides. 

You can look for these names to easily identify if a product has ceramide or not. Some other products might contain other names for ceramides which most people are not familiar with. 

Here is a list of names that signify that the product contains ceramides:

  • N-stearoyl phytosphingosine
  • N-stearoyl sphinganine
  • Caproyl sphingosine
  • Hexadecanamide
  • Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide
  • α-hydroxy-N-stearoylphytosphingosine

Besides these, some other skincare products can contain something known as ceramide precursors. These ingredients have the power to stimulate the skin in such a way that it starts creating natural ceramides. Some commonly used ceramide precursors are Sphingosine and Phytosphingosine.

Tips for using ceramides effectively

If you are using ceramides in the form of a moisturizer, it would be best to apply it immediately after the shower. This helps in ensuring that the extra moisture can be locked in. You can also use the product just before going to bed. 

The ideal way is to apply the product twice a day, during morning and night. You can start with cleansing the face and then following it up with serums and toners. In the final step, you can lock in all the moisture with a ceramide-rich moisturizer. 

If you are applying it during the day, you should follow this up with an application of SPF. 

Some experts recommend pairing up the ceramide creams with other kinds of fats like glycerides and phospholipids. The Wow Skin Vitamin C Face Cream is a great option for pairing up with a ceramide-rich product. 

If we consider the ratio of ingredients that are essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier, they are:

  • 50% ceramides
  • 24% cholesterol
  • 15% free fatty acids

Research has shown that all three of these substances work best when applied together. If you pair other skincare products containing free fatty acids, you will be able to markedly improve your skin barrier.

Common FAQs about ceramide-containing products

frequent questions about skincare products, frequent questions about ceramides

Here are some commonly asked questions about ceramide-containing products:

FAQ #1: Does packaging matter for ceramide-containing products?

How a ceramide product is packaged certainly matters, as it helps in determining its effectiveness. Anti-aging ingredients are not always stable, which means that exposure to air and light can reduce their effectiveness. 

Ceramide products work best when they are packaged in opaque bottles, tubes, and airtight pumps. Good packaging will ensure that the ingredients perform in the best possible way.

FAQ #2: What results can be expected from using ceramide-rich products?

If a ceramide product has been properly formulated and packaged, it can help in improving the skin’s hydration and strengthening the skin barrier. You will be able to see firmer and smoother skin, reduced wrinkles and fine lines, and also lesser irritation.

FAQ #3: What skin types can use ceramide-rich products?

Since ceramides are naturally occurring in the skin (skin-identical), they can be used by all skin types. Even if you have oily and sensitive skin which is prone to breakouts, you can benefit from ceramide products. They can also be used around the eyes.

FAQ #4: Are there any ingredients ceramides work better with?

When combined with other skin-identical ingredients like glycerine and cholesterol, the effectiveness of ceramides is enhanced. These combinations do not only help in improving the skin texture but also in reducing the signs of irritation. They also work well with skin-restoring substances like niacinamide, retinol, peptides, and linoleic acid.

Here are some of our recommendations for pairing with ceramide-enriched products, like the ones offered by WOW Skin Science:

skin care cream, face cream, coconut face cream

With this we have covered everything there is to know about ceramides and their benefits. It can be safely said that ceramides is the best skin-identical ingredient out there. With the tips provided in this article, you will be able to successfully incorporate ceramides into your skin routine.

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