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Why You Should Add Ceramides to Your Skincare Routine

Everything you need to know about this barrier-repairing ingredient that’s a safe bet for all skin types.

We all strive for healthy and hydrated skin, but let’s face it: Keeping our complexion in check is easier said than done. Between sun exposure, blasts of air conditioning and heating, soaps, harsh exfoliants and the natural aging process, it’s normal for skin to need extra TLC.

That’s where ceramides come in. While they are often overlooked, ceramides are worth having on your radar no matter your skin type and skin goals. Dry, flaky skin? Dull complexion? Loss of firmness? Patches of itchy eczema? Ceramides can help. And bonus: They’re incredibly easy to add to any existing skincare routine. Read on to find out everything you need to know about ceramides, from what they are and how to use them to ceramides’ skin benefits and what to look for in a ceramide cream.

What are ceramides?
Though they’re not as talked about as other active ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and retinol, ceramides are key to a well-rounded skincare routine. Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that are naturally produced by the skin and essentials to a healthy skin barrier. There are nine types of ceramides, and they all serve the same purpose—keeping skin strong and healthy.

The outermost layer of skin—a.k.a. the skin barrier—is made up of skin cells and lipids, about 50% of which are ceramides, with cholesterol making up 25% and fatty acids about 15%. Think of it this way: If skin cells are the bricks that make up the skin barrier, lipids are the mortar that holds them together and keeps the barrier strong. A strong barrier keeps pathogens, allergens and other irritants out and locks in moisture. When the barrier is compromised, irritation and dryness occur. Research shows that skin with low ceramide levels is more prone to skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

The skin’s natural ceramides deplete as we age, and we lose about 60% of our stores by the time we hit our 40s. Not only that, but lifestyle and environment play a role as sun exposure, temperature changes, soaps and excessive exfoliation⁠—all things that strip skin of its natural oils⁠—also contribute to ceramide loss. To counteract this natural depletion, replenishing the skin’s ceramides via a good skincare routine is essential in keeping skin healthy and repairing damage to the skin barrier.

What are the benefits of ceramides for skin?
No matter your skin type, you can’t go wrong when adding ceramides to your daily routine. The nourishing, soothing and barrier-repairing ingredient packs a surprising number of benefits into each application.

Protecting the skin: The main benefits of ceramides for skin stem from their ability to repair weak spots in the outermost layer, which comes in contact with an array of potential irritants every day. They are a crucial component of a healthy skin barrier as they help form a seal that prevents irritants, pathogens and allergens from entering the skin and wreaking havoc.

Locking in moisture: The seal created on the outermost layer of skin by ceramides and other lipids also prevents water loss, leading to a more hydrated skin. Using a ceramide cream helps tackle signs of dehydration, such as redness, flaky patches and tightness.

Improving skin’s overall appearance: Striving for a smoother, more radiant complexion? Upping your lipid levels is key. Adding ceramides to your skincare routine can help give skin a firmer, plumper look by filling in fine lines.

Are ceramides suitable for every skin type?
Because they are naturally produced by the skin, ceramides are a safe bet for all skin types, from sensitive to combination to oily. They’re particularly good for mature and dry skin, as well as those who suffer from conditions that flare up when the skin barrier is compromised, such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

Ceramides are also great to use alongside harsher active ingredients, like retinol and chemical exfoliants, to soothe skin and prevent irritation.

How do I add ceramides to my skincare routine?
While it’s true that natural ceramide levels naturally decrease over time, there’s good news: adding a ceramide cream to your skincare routine is an easy way to boost skin health and make up for that gradual loss.

The best ceramide cream is one that combines ceramides with cholesterol and fatty acids—the other lipids that make up the skin barrier—like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. This soothing anti-aging moisturizer works to repair the skin barrier and improves hydration, smoothness, radiance and skin laxity as well as the appearance of pores.

Adding a ceramide cream like SkinCeutical Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 to your routine is easy. This moisturizer is gentle enough to use twice daily, right after the best serum for your skin type. It’s also completely safe to use with other skincare ingredients. Pro tip: Apply it immediately after getting out of the shower, when your skin is still damp, to help lock in extra moisture.

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