Ceramides are natural lipids (oils) found within the skin that make up over 50 per cent of the skin’s composition. Ceramides are an essential part of maintaining the skin’s balance as they help shield the skin from dehydration and protect against external and environmental irritants. Without the correct balance of ceramides, the skin’s barrier can become compromised and start showing signs of dryness and damage.
Ceramides are a key component of your skin; they make up the outer layer and help protect against skin damage. To demonstrate this, think of the most external layer of your epidermis (stratum corneum) as a protective brick structure. Each brick or cell (corneocyte) is maintained by its ratio of intercellular lipids, a formula consisting of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids which help bind the three elements together. These three elements make up the outer layer of your skin and are the body’s first line of defence while also sealing in moisture within the skin.
Levels of ceramide production can diminish as you age. This may be a result of environmental damage, especially sun damage which is a key culprit in reducing the quantity of ceramides naturally occurring within the skin. With a low supply of ceramides, the skin’s protective barrier is weakened and holes within the ‘brick wall’ can begin to occur. This compromised skin barrier allows moisture to escape and external aggressors like pollutants and allergens to penetrate the skin and cause irritation and damage.