What are Ceramides?

What are Ceramides?

Written by Dr. Dalibor Mijaljica BSC, PhD with contributions from Dr. Deshan Sebaratnam MBBS, FRCP, FACD.

You've heard of skincare ingredients like ceramides and lactic acid, but what do they actually do? We sat with dermatologist Dr. Deshan Sebaratnam to explore the science of common skincare ingredients and how they help your skin.

Watch our Science Says video to learn more with Dr. Deshan Sebaratnam


What are Ceramides?

Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids and make up roughly half of the stratum corneum's lipid bi-layer. They play a significant role in the skin's barrier function, helping to maintain water balance as well as protecting your epidermis from environmental irritants and allergens.

Skin barrier

Skin barrier function

The skin barrier has two key jobs: defending us against irritants, allergens and microbes in the environment, and keeping the skin hydrated. On a microscopic level, it’s often described as having a ‘brick and mortar’ structure, where the skin cells (the bricks) provide the physical strength and are held together by a mortar of intercellular lipids, which include mostly free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. Of these, ceramides are the major component in the mixture and they play a crucial role in making sure the mortar is densely packed and remains crack-free so that it can function properly.

The use of ceramide-containing cleansers and moisturisers can help to keep the skin hydrated, improve skin barrier function and reduce irritation.

Dr. Dalibor Mijaljica


Ceramides for acne prone skin

In acne-affected skin, the barrier function is impaired and decreased water binding leads to a decrease in skin hydration and a reduction in skin surface lipids including ceramides. Therefore, ceramide-containing moisturisers may offer benefits as an adjunct to acne treatment1,2.

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