If dry skin is the bane of your life (especially as we head towards winter), read on to discover why ceramides are the key to keeping your skin happy and hydrated…
Dry skin is normally down to the epidermis lacking in key lipids, which can leave it feeling fragile, tight and in more extreme cases irritated or cracked. Often rough to the touch, dry skin unfortunately also tends to age quicker than oilier skin types. This lack of lipids causes the hydrolipidic film (the barrier of water and natural oils that protects our skin) to weaken, allowing trans epidermal water loss and causing skin to become more vulnerable to external aggressions. With these traits in mind, dry skin can be classified into two types:
- Dry dehydrated: With a low moisture content. Skin can appear shiny, with enlarged pores and even blackheads.
- Dry alipidic: Low oil (sebum) production, causing skin to be fragile and sensitive/reactive.
No ceramides, no skin barrier
Ceramides are a family of lipids (aka fat molecules) that are naturally present in the uppermost layers of our skin, and unfortunately, like all good things, their production is known to decrease over time! However, their existence is key for skin to function properly, as they are found in each of the four epidermal layers. To understand how they work and why they are so important, let’s imagine that the structure of the outermost layer of our skin (the stratum corneum) is a wall made of bricks and cement. Now, the bricks represent the main skin cells (the corneocytes) and the lipids are what hold everything together, making skin structurally sound. Of these lipids, 50% are ceramides (!) and this is why I always call them skin “cement”, as without the proper ratio of ceramides, the skin’s barrier can become compromised. However, on the flip side, a well-formulated skincare product containing ceramides or one that stimulates their production will help reinforce our skin’s barrier, making it less vulnerable to external factors, such as cold weather or central heating, low air humidity and hot water etc. Great news for those suffering from dry, irritated skin!
In short, ceramides can…
- Restore and reinforce our skin’s barrier function.
- Prevent skin from losing water, thus improving its hydration and elasticity.
- Repair and balance our skin’s hydro-lipid mantle.
- Keep our skin healthier for longer.
- Fight, prevent and improve skin conditions such as eczema or atopic, sensitive and/or irritated skin.
Where to find them…
I personally recommend combining ceramides with fatty acids, as together they boost each other’s properties and skin benefits, making them much more biocompatible than if used separately.
Natural oils are a very rich source of both ceramides and fatty acids:
- Jojoba oil: Contains up to 96% ceramides.
- Safflower oil: 78% ceramides
- Grapeseed oil: 73% ceramides
- Poppy seed oil: 70% ceramides
- Sunflower oil: 68% ceramides
- Hemp oil: 60% ceramides
- Corn oil: 59% ceramides
- Wheat germ oil: 55% ceramides
- Cottonseed oil: 54% ceramides
- Soybean oil: 51% ceramides
- Walnut oil: 50% ceramides
- Sesame oil: 45% ceramides
- Rice bran oil: 39% ceramides
- Pistachio oil: 33% ceramides
- Peanut oil: 32% ceramides
- Linseed oil: 15% ceramides
- Olive oil: 10% ceramides
From the Twelve collection I can’t praise the Intelligent Frontier Facial Oil enough for its ability to restore dry or compromised complexions. Thanks to its powerful mix of sunflower, wheat germ, soybean and olive unsaponifiable oils, this lightweight oil is positively brimming with ceramides! Hugely soothing, deeply hydrating and proven to repair the skin’s barrier function, this regenerating oil helps to restructure the epidermis – Boosting radiance, deeply hydrating and restoring youthful vitality and healthy suppleness. On the other hand, to remedy dry skin on other areas of the body, the Rewarding Body Balm is a must. Containing 12 of our signature hero ingredients with added pure jojoba and sunflower oils, it is bursting with vitamins, essential fatty acids, and skin barrier repairing botanicals that have been shown to heal even the most compromised skin. Remember also that I always formulate at approximately pH5 as at this pH, the enzymes responsible for producing ceramides are at their most active.
Age is not important
As our skin is constantly battling a daily onslaught of aggressions that can affect the function of its protective barrier, I can’t stress enough the fact that it is never too early (or too late!) to include ceramide containing or enhancing products in our skincare routines. Well-looked after skin is healthier for longer.