Naturally occurring, long chains of lipids (fats) that are major components of skin’s outer layers. Skin inhibits water movement via its structure, which has a unique composition of 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids. [1, 2]
Ceramides are necessary for their water-retention capacity and adding them to a skincare product helps provide replenishing and restoring benefits. [3, 4]
Nine different ceramides have been identified in skin, some of which are used in skincare products. On a skincare product ingredient label, you’ll see those listed as ceramide AP, ceramide EOP, ceramide NG, ceramide NP, ceramide NS, phytosphingosine, and sphingosine. The ceramides used in skincare products typically are derived from plants or are synthetic; there is no research showing that either form is preferred over the other. [3,4]
- Kwon Y, Kim C, Youm J, Gwak H, Park B, Lee S, Jeon S, Kim B, Seo Y, Park J, et al. Novel synthetic ceramide derivatives increase intracellular calcium levels and promote epidermal keratinocyte differentiation. J Lipid Res. 2007;48(9):1936-43.
- Vielhaber G, Pfeiffer S, Brade L, Lindner B, Goldmann T, Vollmer E, Hintze U, Wittern K, Wepf R. Localization of ceramide and glucosylceramide in human epidermis by immunogold electron microscopy. J Invest Deratol. 2001;117(5):1126-36.
- Geilen C, Barz S, Bektas M. Sphingolipid Signaling in Epidermal Homeostasis. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2001;14:261-271.
- Mojumdar E, Kariman Z, van Kerckhove L, Gooris G, Bouwstra J. The role of ceramide chain length distribution on the barrier properties of the skin lipid membranes. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014;1838(10):2473-2483.