We think of our skin as a protective barrier to keep out toxins and other harmful things. But one of the most important functions of our skin is to serve as a barrier to keep in vital nutrients including water.
Your skin has several layers and each layer serves specific functions when it comes to the structure, contour, and what it does (or does not) absorb from the outside world.
Ceramides for skin health are one of the most important factors when it comes to fortifying these multiple layers which together form a powerful skin barrier. Ceramides are essential, and work together with hyaluronic acid and collagen to keep your skin hydrated, plump, and healthy.
What are ceramides?
Ceramides are lipids – or fat molecules neatly layered in a tiny sheet-like structure within the layers of skin. You can find most of your ceramides within the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin.
Your body naturally creates ceramides but as you age, ceramide production decreases leading to lower amounts within the layers of skin. I’m sure you have noticed how your skin tends to be drier in the winter? That’s largely because ceramide levels drastically decrease in the winter months compared to spring or summer months when the humidity is higher.
Certain foods have high levels of ceramides, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat, rice, and soybeans. And, in recent years, ceramides have become a popular and effective hydrating nutrient in supplements and creams to promote that youthful glow.
Skin health benefits of ceramides.
Ceramides play a key role in maintaining water permeability, or how well your skin allows water to come and go. They are basically the gate-keepers when it comes to keeping your skin at the perfect moisture level.
The benefits of ceramides are far reaching, and healthy skin is often correlated with adequate amounts of ceramides. Many skin disorders involve a weakened skin barrier, one that allows for too much water loss leading to dehydrated skin. Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis all have one thing in common, diminished skin barrier function which is characterized by dry and irritated skin.
Ceramides also regulate the growth and health of a certain type of skin cell called keratinocytes. Keratinocytes produce keratin – the extraordinary protein found on the surface of the skin that protects it from tearing, helps maintain skin structure and barrier function.
By maintaining water content, ceramides contribute greatly to that coveted youthful look. That dewy glow we’re all after is only made possible when there’s enough water in our skin to provide that moisture-rich glow. When your skin is properly hydrated, fine lines and wrinkles are less apparent and dull skin becomes smooth and regains the plumpness and glow of our youth.
Hydration, hydration, hydration.
Gravity and the sun take their toll on our skin, but the main reason we see those wrinkles and sagging skin is because of what’s missing.
Water. Over 60% of your entire body is made of water - with your skin being roughly 64% water. And when you don’t have adequately hydrated skin, the delicate tissue on your face, hands, and neck pays the price.
Several factors can contribute to hydration loss, including diet, hormones, stress, and your exposure to environmental toxins.
Hormone changes, specifically estrogen loss, contribute to a decreased ability to retain water in the skin. As women go through the various stages of menopause, in particular, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain adequate water content in the skin. And as skin becomes dehydrated, fine lines and wrinkles start to become more apparent, youthful features like full cheekbones and lips become thinner and less vibrant.
So while sun damage is most often to blame for these age-related changes, there are also internal factors like hormone imbalances that work against us when it comes to turning back the hands of time.
Stress is another way your body loses water content. Your skin comes in contact with stressors all day– heat, cold, pain, and tension. Emotional stress has also been shown to increase water loss through the skin and reduce how well you hold onto water (water retention), leading to an overall dysfunctional skin barrier.
Ceramides and hyaluronic acid are essential for your skin’s dewy glow.
You can’t talk about skin hydration without also mentioning hyaluronic acid. As abrasive as the name sounds, hyaluronic acid is extremely important when it comes to binding and holding onto water molecules and has the ability to hold up to 1000X its weight in water. And the benefits of hyaluronic acid don’t stop with skin hydration– this molecule also helps with joint lubrication, assists in wound healing and tissue repair, and helps new blood vessels to form and grow.
When it comes to the skin, hyaluronic acid is found in the dermis rather than the epidermis as is with ceramides. In this slightly deeper layer, hyaluronic acid can regulate water balance as well as osmotic pressure – which controls the flow of water in and out of molecules.
Collagen helps enhance hydration to fight skin aging.
In addition to ceramides and hyaluronic acid, skin hydration is greatly impacted by collagen levels. Collagen is a powerful protein and as the most prevalent protein found in our bodies, it's responsible for many health and beauty benefits. Collagen keeps your joints and cheekbones lubricated and also enhances your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture.
Studies have shown by increasing collagen levels (which naturally decline with age as well as become destroyed by oxidative stress), hydration levels are significantly increased in the skin.
As you can see, maintaining hydration in your skin is complex and extremely important to maintaining healthy and youthful looking skin. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid and collagen all play important roles. Ceramides provide the fatty outermost layer and structure to organize water movement. Hyaluronic acid maintains water balance at a slightly deeper level, and collagen provides the plumping factor to fill in jawlines, cheekbones, and fine lines.
My new all-in-one Collagen Renew Matrix powder improves 3 key factors of skin aging: firmness, elasticity and moisture. It combines pineapple ceramides, which help replenish skin’s essential lipids to lock moisture in and keep toxins out, with the power of clinically proven Verisol® collagen peptides, along with elastin and vitamin C to support your body’s natural production of collagen and elastin.
Click here to learn more about this unique collagen and moisturizing formula.