Given the recent marketing hype around ceramide skincare products, you might think “ceramides” are cutting-edge — a new, trendy, must-try beauty ingredient. But that’s only partially true. The substance is pretty popular right now, but in reality, ceramides couldn’t be any older or more ordinary. They’re built right into your skin.
“Ceramides are a type of fat in the skin which hold the skin cells together and prevent the loss of water from the skin’s surface,” Dr. Lily Talakoub, M.D., F.A.A.D, a board-certified dermatologist with McClean Dermatology, tells The Zoe Report. “They are our skin’s natural moisturizers.” Dr. Talakoub notes that the amount of ceramides you have in your particular skin is genetically determined; but just like collagen, the body’s natural stores get depleted over time. “Ceramides are lost from age and UV damage,” she says. “They are broken down, leading to dry, thin, and aged skin.” Avoiding sun and pollution exposure can help protect your ceramide supply, but there is an easier way: just add more.
“Using a moisturizer with ceramides prevents water from evaporating from the skin’s surface,” Dr. Talakoub says. This evaporation process is known as TEWL, or TransEpidermal Moisture Loss, and it's happening to your skin all the time. That’s what your moisture barrier — made up of the buzzy beauty ingredient, plus fatty acids and cholesterol — is there for; it helps keep moisture in and drying, skin-upsetting invaders out. Products packed with ceramides help support this inherent moisturization, and can even protect from future damage, fill in fine lines and wrinkles, and strengthen the skin barrier. “Every skin type can benefit from ceramides — it is a necessary ingredient to replenish,” the dermatologist says. “But using a moisturizer with ceramides is especially beneficial to dry and dehydrated skin.”
Naturally, in the Golden Age of Beauty Supplements, there’s more than one way to treat your skin to ceramides. HUM Nutrition's latest supplement launch, Mighty Night, offers an ingestible option. “Ingestible and topical ceramides work in similar ways; they both strengthen the skin barrier,” Sarah Greenfield, R.D., HUM's Director of Education, tells TZR. The brand formulated Mighty Night after discovering “interesting research that explored the use of ceramides orally,” Greenfield says. She explains that in one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, ingestible ceramides were shown to have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture barrier over a period of 15 to 30 days. HUM’s own clinical trials had similar results.
Ceramide supplements have one major edge over topicals: “Orally ingested ceramides are distributed to the skin across the body, while topical ceramides are only delivered to the parts of the body where directly applied,” notes Greenfield. That being said, why not try both? The ingredient is risk-free, per Dr. Talakoub, and your complexion will welcome it with open arms (or, more accurately, open pores).
Ahead, 10 ways to replenish your ceramide supply.