Ceramides: What Are They and How Do They Benefit Dry Skin?
What Are Ceramides?
Ceramides are probably one of the most underrated components of your skin! The outermost layer of your epidermis, the stratum corneum, is composed of 50% ceramides!
Ceramides are a group of waxy lipid molecules naturally found in all four layers of your epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, + stratum basale). Ceramides are composed of a fatty acid that is connected to a sphingoid base (long-chain amino alcohol).
Why Are They Good For Your Skin?
Ceramides are essential to maintaining your skin’s integrity. They help form a protective skin layer that prevents moisture loss. Ceramides strengthen your skin’s lipid barrier and help reduce skin sensitivities. Think of ceramides as your body’s own natural built-in moisturizer!
Why Do You Need More Ceramides?
So if your skin is already composed of ceramides, why do you need more?
Many factors can affect the ceramide levels in your skin. If your skin is dry or you suffer from eczema, it’s likely that your stores are depleted.
Age is probably the biggest factor contributing to ceramide deficiency since ceramide production declines after age 20. Then there are environmental stressors such as UV radiation from the sun, pollution, and dry air that can also play a part. In addition, chemical exposure to harsh detergents or solvents can also rob your skin of its protective lipid barrier, which further depletes ceramide levels and causes ‘thin skin’.
Natural Food Sources of Ceramides
Luckily, ceramides can be found in both plant and animal based foods, so you can replenish your stores! Whatever your dietary restrictions, there’s sure to be a food you can consume that is naturally rich in ceramides.
Naturally occurring ceramides are mostly found in plants and are referred to as phytoceramides.
Phytoceramides can be found from these plant sources:
- sweet potato
Animal derived food sources of ceramides (in the form of sphingolipids) primarily come from: