Skincare moves as fast as fashion these days. Just like the ‘It bags’ of fashion, there’s a new ingredient to covet every other week if you believe TikTok and the gram, meaning yet another product to add to your bathroom shelf. But sometimes something truly ground-breaking cuts through the noise. Last year it was niacinamide which had the beauty world abuzz, and in previous years we’ve been riveted by retinol (quite rightly too).
So, what’s the super-ingredient for 2023? Having flown largely under the radar, give a warm welcome to ceramides. “This year we’re going to see a rise in ‘ceramide centric’ products,” says skincare expert Jane Scrivner, “thanks to their ability to keep our skin barrier healthy and balanced, seal in moisture and prevent oxidative damage. Ceramides are a fantastic nourishing and rebalancing ingredient, suitable for all skin types.”
What do ceramides do?
Ceramides sound like a miracle all-rounder, but how do they work? Scrivner explains the science part. “Ceramides are lipids (also known as fats) that naturally make up 50% of your skin. Ceramides are the glues that hold our skin cells together, helping to lock in moisture, keeping your skin hydrated, and keeping out pollution, environmental damage and infection.” What happens if there’s a lack of skin ceramides? “Not having enough ceramides has been linked to inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea,” Scrivner answers. “They’re a great replenishing ingredient to rebalance your skin’s barrier for healthier skin that you can feel more confident and comfortable in.” There are different types of ceramides, natural and synthetic, that are generally used in skincare. For example for dry or irritated skin, experts suggest looking out for a formula with ceramides 1, 3, or 6-II.
Ceramides at a glance
- Restores the skin barrier
- Locks in moisture
- Protects the skin
- Reduces visible signs of ageing
- Helps with inflammatory skin conditions
How do I use ceramides?
Scan the high street beauty stores and you’ll see ceramides everywhere. Most prominent will be on the skincare shelf, and front and centre will be CeraVe, a brand that hails ceramides as its skincare hero, using a blend of three essential ceramides (the previously mentioned ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II), fatty acids, and other lipids to help restore the skin’s natural barrier. Sensitive eyes need not worry, either. “Protecting your eye area with ceramides and antioxidants is crucial,” insists Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, the founder and medical director of award-winning Adonia Medical Clinic. “It makes up around one third of the epidermis (the upper layer of the skin) and helps the skin to stay moisturised.”
Are ceramides suitable for all skin types? And are there any side effects?
Dermatologist Dr. Jenny Liu who works closely with CeraVe, and runs the popular @derm.talk Instagram account, suggests everyone can benefit from including ceramides in their skincare routine, “especially those with dry and sensitive skin” she adds. This is because, “when ceramide levels are reduced, it can lead to irritated skin.” Ceramides are generally considered safe for everyone to use and as with all ingredients, it can take time for the full effects of the product to materialise. Some users, particularly with combination or oily skin, may find ceramides quite heavy on the skin but there are lighter formulations on the market nowadays. And don’t worry if you’re concerned that ceramides could impact other ingredients in your beauty regime. It’s worth noting that it’s completely safe and effective when pairing with peptides, AHAs, BHA, hyaluronic acid, azelaic acid and all types of antioxidants.
Can I use ceramides on hair?
Absolutely, experts say. Grow Gorgeous are big fans of adding ceramides to their sensitive scalp range. Ceramides protect hair against water loss and subsequent damage (much in the way they do for skin). They’re not the only hair care brand to be ceramide loyalists. Look closely at your existing products and you might already be using ceramides. Some are naturally occurring, such as hemp seed oil, kukui oil, sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, safflower oil and grapeseed oil or synthetic, often labelled as 2-oleamido, 1-3 octadecanediol. If you have relaxed your natural hair recently, it might be worth stocking up on ceramide-infused formulas to fortify your strands. The same can be said for natural hair that is straightened regularly or is exposed to heat.
The bottom line
Great for everyone, all skin types and everywhere top to toe, ceramides are here to stay. And if you don’t already use them in your current your hair and beauty regime, we think you’ll find them a worthy addition!
Making the cut
Ceramide-focused beauty products to strengthen and soothe