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All you need to know about ceramides, the building blocks of your skin

Find out why ceramides will do your skin a world of good.

The world of skincare is always buzzing with a new mist or an acid whose name you can’t pronounce. Which is probably some of the reasons why ceramides for your skin go unnoticed. While most dermatologists call it the building blocks of our skin, even the most updated skincare addicts often forget to pay heed to it. But what exactly are ceramides in skincare, why they are essential, and what’s the best way to use them?

What are ceramides, exactly?

Some studies suggest it constitutes 50 percent of the epidermis, that is, the outermost layer of our skin. “Ceramides are a type of fat that make up the lipid bilayer around your cells,” explains Dr Kiran Lohia, dermatologist and founder, Isya Derm, New Delhi. Think of it as brick and mortar “that helps lock moisture and also acts as a barrier against environmental aggressors,” says Dr Nirupama Parwanda, dermatologist, Zolie Skin Clinic.

Just like collagen, they are naturally found in our bodies and contribute to skin, hair, and health. So  if they are naturally found in our bodies, why do we need ceramides in our beauty kits? “Certain factors like exposure to hot water, harsh soaps or chemicals may deplete ceramides,” explains Parwanda. As your skin loses its lipid barriers, fine lines and wrinkles may look more prominent.

Ceramides and skin problems

Many people who naturally have dry skin or even suffer from eczema can benefit from ceramides. “People with eczema or mature skin have fewer ceramides in the skin. Ceramides keep the skin healthy, moist, and prevent infection, rashes, and aging,” says Dr Lohia.

(Image credit: Unsplash/ Anastasiia Ostapovych)

Is it safe to use ceramides with other skincare products?

It seemed obvious, but I had to find out. It turns out ceramides can be combined with antioxidants as well as peptides and retinols too. But if you use AHA or BHA acids excessively, your skin can become sensitive.

Are ceramides present in our hair too?

Yes, it’s one of the three oils present in the roots of our hair, and plays a pivotal role in keeping our cuticles flat into the follicle. “Raised cuticles lead to more breakage, and less moisture retention leads to frizziness, dryness, and hair fall,” explains Parwanda. The more we expose our hair to heat and colour, the more ceramides we lose from our roots. Using hair masks with ceramides or products which contain grapeseed oil, hemp oil, sunflower oil, or wheat germ oil is your best bet while choosing the correct product.

(Image credit: Stock)

How do you know if your products have ceramides?

Knowing that they are already present in most creams, shampoos, and hair masks, I looked for ceramides, but they weren’t labelled by their name. ”Look for AP, EOP, NG, NP, of NS,” says Dr Zolie. At times, ingredients like phytosphingosine and sphingosine might leave you perplexed, but these are precursors that stimulate the production of ceramides on your skin.  

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This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India

Manvi Siddhanti

Siddhanti is a writer, editor, and influencer based out of New Delhi. When she’s not writing on beauty and lifestyle, you’ll find her sipping on Chardonnay or binge-watching Netflix.