Ceramides are the long chains of lipids (fat molecules) that are plant based and naturally found in the skin and are major components of the skin’s outer layers, helping to strengthen the skin's natural barrier. They help form the ‘glue’ or cement between skin cells. Skin inhibits water movement (trans-epidermal water loss) and controls loss via its structure, which has a unique composition of 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids. When the ceramide percentage depletes the skin can suffer.
Ceramides are necessary for their water-retention capacity and adding them to a skincare product helps provide replenishing and restoring benefits.
Nine different ceramides have been identified in skin, some of which are used in skincare products. On a skincare product ingredient label, you’ll see those listed as ceramide AP, ceramide EOP, ceramide NG, ceramide NP, ceramide NS, phytosphingosine, and sphingosine.
The ceramides used in skincare products typically are derived from plants (wheat germ is a common source) or are synthetic; there’s no research showing that either form is preferred over the other.
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