Ceramides are popular ingredient types we often see in esthetics. They are usually found in moisturizers, serums, or cleansers. They are typically associated with anything meant to strengthen compromised skin.
The Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals (2012) defines ceramides as:“Glycolipid materials that are a natural part of the skin’s intercellular matrix and barrier function” (Page 727).
In other words, ceramides are the glycolipid (naturally occurring long chains of lipids) component of the intercellular matrix (the stuff between the skin cells) and barrier function (the barrier that prevents trans-epidermal water loss).
There are a lot of ceramides on the market, and they usually have a name like ceramide AP or ceramide NP. Ceramides can either be organically derived from plants and animals or synthetically created.
Organically derived ceramides are more often less stable or considered unethically produced by cruelty-free standards. Synthetic ceramides have come a long way since original formulation and do a great job.
The claims of a product containing ceramides are referring to what happens when the skin is reinforced with ceramides as opposed to what the ceramides do. By repairing the skin’s barrier and reinforcing the intercellular matrix with ceramides, the skin will appear and act healthy, feel hydrated and supple, and have less appearance of fine lines.
Ceramides, like most other things our bodies naturally produce, decrease production as we age. This is a type of ingredient we would want to integrate into home care for a client with mature skin or compromised barrier function in need of soothing and strengthening.