The Beauty Alphabet: C is for Ceramide!

What are ceramides?

Ceramides are lipid molecules that are composed of sphingosine and a fatty acid through an aside bond. It is a major lipid in the lipid bilayer that does a number of things for our skin — about 50% of your skin barrier.

Ceramides & The Lipid Bilayer

  • It increases the molecular order or rigidity of phospholipids in membranes — allows for the stability of the lipid bilayer
  • Gives rise to lateral phase separation and domain formation in phospholipid bilayers — this is important for the coexistence of two phases in spatially separated populations to allow for proteins to partition into one phase or the other.
  • Provides the barrier property of the epidermis
  • Provides structure and maintenance of water permeability barrier function of the skin

In simpler terms, it is the mortar to the brick of a brick wall! It forms, repairs, and keeps the barrier together. It helps keep things like moisture in and keeps things like bacteria and pollutants out. Mortar keeps bricks together to maintain an optimal environment inside while keeping critters outside.

What can low ceramide content do?

Low ceramide content can lead to dry skin or diminished barrier function. The epidermis will lack in structure allowing for the diffusion of water — aka moisture and hydration — to the top of the skin to be evaporated, an increase in TEWL. An increase in TEWL leads to dry skin. A lack in structure can also allow for increased sensitivity to irritations.

Although it can be difficult to prove, it has been found that in most skin disorders with diminished barrier function, there is a decrease in total ceramide content. Therefore, it is important for you to maintain ceramide levels in your skin. Proper skincare can ensure a healthy lipid bilayer.

A “quick fix” would be to utilize products that contain lipids with similar structure to those in the skin — ceramides. This can also help improve disturbed skin conditions.

Ceramide Containing Products

  • CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion (8 oz for $11.99 @ Ulta)
    • Things to note about CeraVe: CeraVe’s product line all contains ceramides. I particularly like the Daily Moisturizing Lotion because it moisturizes my skin without feeling oily or greasy. If you have dryer skin, you might like the Daily Moisturizing CREAM.
    • Contains: Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-11, Cholesterol, Phytosphingosine (the last two are also great for the lipid bilayer)

References and Further Reading

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