What are ceramides?


Ceramides are becoming an increasingly popular ingredient to include in our skincare routines. They’re a trendy topic right now for many skincare brands, with lots of products claiming that their essential ceramides will solve all your skin woes.
You may have already heard of them, but do you know why they’re used and what their benefits are? In this guide, we’ll explore what ceramides actually are and how they work, so you can discover how they might be able to improve your skin.

What are ceramides and what do they do?

Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that help the skin to retain moisture. Our skin naturally contains them – if you think of your skin cells as the building blocks of your skin barrier, ceramides are essentially the glue that holds them together.
If your skin barrier is lacking in these ceramides, dehydration, dryness, and irritation can occur. The amount of ceramides our skin barrier naturally produces decreases with age, at an approximate rate of 1% loss each year after you turn 20.
Ceramides can become depleted in people with skin conditions such as acne and rosacea too. As well as this, dry winter air and the overuse of harsh soaps and exfoliants can decrease our natural levels of ceramides.


Why are ceramides good for skin?

Ceramides are essential for holding together our skin’s protective barrier. Their role in the skin barrier is essential to preventing dehydration, and when our skin is properly hydrated, a whole range of problems can be fixed or prevented.
Maintaining an adequate amount of ceramides in your skin can:

  • Prevent water loss
  • Keep the skin moisturised
  • Prevent breakouts
  • Reduce skin inflammation
  • Rejuvenate ageing skin



The importance of skin hydration

Dehydrated skin isn’t the same thing as dry skin. Keeping your skin adequately hydrated is, of course, essential to tackling dry skin, but the same goes for those with oily skin.
Dehydrated skin sometimes produces more oil because it’s overcompensating for a lack of moisture – so, by keeping your skin hydrated, excess oiliness can be prevented. Other signs your skin may be dehydrated can include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Dullness
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • Sensitivity
  • Fine lines and wrinkles

Drinking enough water and maintaining those essential ceramides in your skin barrier are both fundamental in keeping your skin from becoming dehydrated.


Using a new ingredient in your skincare routine can be daunting or confusing, especially if you’ve had a bad experience with a new product before, or if you’ve got a specific skin problem. Here, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about ceramides so you can determine whether they’re right for you and your skincare needs.

Can ceramides cause breakouts?

Ceramides themselves are naturally produced in your skin, so adding more of them into your skincare routine shouldn’t cause breakouts. That said, always check the label of a new product to see what other ingredients are included and whether they’re right for your skin type.
It’s important to always do a patch test before trying a new product – try using a small amount on your arm before applying something new to your face.

What skin types are ceramides for?

Ceramides are safe and effective for all skin types, whether that be dry, oily, combination, or normal.
A lot of products will state if they’re beneficial for a certain skin type, but the inclusion of ceramides wont affect this.


Are ceramides good for acne-prone skin?

Ceramides protect your skin’s natural barrier and help it to function at its best, so they certainly can be helpful in tackling acne. If you suffer from severe cystic or hormonal acne, it’s always best to get expert advice from a dermatologist.
This is because there may be underlying issues causing the acne, and a skincare product alone won’t be able to completely solve the problem.

Can ceramides help rosacea?

Ceramides can be helpful for those suffering from rosacea, symptoms of which include redness across your cheeks and nose. By keeping your skin cells aligned and tightened, ceramides prevent water loss and protect the skin against external irritants.
If you suffer from rosacea, be sure to check the ingredients of any new product to make sure it doesn’t contain anything that may possibly irritate your skin.

Are ceramides safe during pregnancy?

By themselves, ceramides won’t cause any harm if used during pregnancy. It is important, however, to make sure your skincare routine is particularly gentle whilst you’re pregnant. Look for products that are hypoallergenic and designed for sensitive skin.

So, there’s a good reason that some skincare brands are promoting the use of ceramides in their products. They protect the skin’s natural barrier, preventing water loss and allowing for that all-important hydration.
Most of all, they’re a completely safe addition to your skincare routine regardless of your skin type! We’ve recently partnered with CeraVe to provide a range of popular skincare products that all include 3 essential ceramides – you can browse the range here.

Faye Bonnell - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 17 September 2021
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