What Are Ceramides? Here's The Low-Down On The Trending Ingredient

Martí Sans / Stocksy

Let's be honest: there are so many skincare trends and new ingredients taking centre stage, it's really hard to keep up sometimes. We may know about active ingredients like retinol, bakuchiol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, but what about the lesser known ceramides, which seem to be on every beauty person's lips ATM? What are ceramides exactly, and should you be using them? Here's everything you need to know about the ingredient, and where to get your fix.

What are ceramides?

In short, ceramides are naturally occurring in the skin, and help to protect the skin's barrier. You may have heard that certain fats can be good for your body and more specifically your skin, and ceramides are the ultimate proof. According to the Paula's Choice website, "Ceramides are lipids (fats) that are found naturally in high concentrations in the uppermost layers of skin." "They make up over 50% of skin’s composition, so it’s no surprise they play a vital role in determining how your skin looks."

As ceramides are already within our skin, you may wonder why you need to worry about skincare products that contain them, but it's important to keep the skin's store of ceramides topped up for the healthiest skin, as things like ageing and sun damage can deplete their levels. “By the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve lost about 40% of your skin’s ceramides, and by the time you’re 40, you’ve lost about 60%,” Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology in New York told Byrdie.

What are the benefits of ceramides?

Where do we start?! Well, because we already have them in our skin, they are understandably pretty crucial. "They play a super-important role in keeping [the skin's] structure strong and healthy by bonding the cells together on the surface forming a solid protective layer," celebrity facialist Michaella Bolder told Stylist. "That layer holds onto hydration and protects against damage giving the skin its plump, hydrated, balanced appearance".

Essentially, ceramides help the skin to look plumper and smoother, and feel firmer with less sensitivity. They are also a great helping hand to aid conditions such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and dryness.

Who should use ceramides?

Well, everyone really. While they are especially beneficial for the skin conditions listed above, they can be used on any skin type, from the most sensitive skin to the oily and breakout-prone. “Everyone needs and uses ceramides naturally,” Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told The Cut. Even better, they are OK to use around the eyes too, meaning you don't have to be super particular with your application.

Where can you find ceramides?

So how should you incorporate ceramides into your routine? You can actually take them orally if you don't want to seek out yet another product to apply to your skin. But the chances are, some of your skincare formulas will already have ceramides in them (just check the ingredients lists). Here are a few options if you fancy picking up something new: