Woman dipping her finger in jar of anti-aging moisturizer

5 Skin Benefits of Using Ceramides

Even if you are proactive about your anti-aging skincare routine, you may be missing out on a critical key to youthful, hydrated skin if you're not using ceramides. You have probably seen this word on the label of a skincare product, but maybe you don't know what it means, or whether it actually makes a difference.

Ceramides keep your skin healthy, soft and supple at any age. Here's what they are—and why they're a must for an effective anti-aging strategy.

What are ceramides?

Woman using a jar of moisturizer containing ceramides

Forget all of those jars and bottles you buy at the store—did you know that your body naturally produces a hydrating substance on the outer-most layer of the skin's surface? Meet your skin's built-in moisturizer, ceramides. These important fat molecules, or lipids, make up about half of the top layer of your skin and are responsible for creating an impermeable layer to lock in moisture, so your skin looks young and smooth and feels soft and supple.

As you age, unfortunately, your ceramide levels in your skin start to decrease–studies show that older skin has more than 30% lower levels of lipids. That's why adding ceramides topically or through an oral formula can help you stay youthful looking—at age 30, 40, 50, 60 and beyond!

What do ceramides do for skin?

Man applying moisturizer as part of his skincare routine

Ceramides are your skin's bodyguard, protecting you against all the environmental factors that the day can throw your way: dirt, pollution and oxidative stress. Ceramides act as a protector to keep these pesky problems away from your skin, while keeping your skin's natural moisture locked in.

Incorporating products that contain ceramides into your anti-aging skincare routine could help bolster your skin from the loss of ceramides—so your skin will stay protected and youthful-looking, year after year.

How do you use ceramides?

Woman holding a jar of moisturizer

"Ceramides" might sound like a high-tech word, but no fancy treatments are required to reap their benefits. These healthy fats are in most anti-aging skincare products and are used topically, like any other face cream.

Ceramides are a great solution for any age, skin type or time of day – day or night. Since ceramides are on the outermost layer of your skin, using a topical cream gets straight to work, right at the source. Ceramides can be used on any part of your body as well—hands, feet, knees, neck...anywhere and everywhere.

When should I use ceramides?

Woman applying ceramides after a shower

Ceramides are a moisturizer for your skin and work best when the surface of your skin is wet, so applying immediately after a shower is recommended to lock in extra moisture. Using ceramides before bed is most beneficial, providing hydrating power to your skin as you sleep—they don't call it beauty sleep for nothing!

For optimal ceramide benefits and results, apply twice a day—morning and night. Make sure to clean the surface of your skin first with a cleanser, then a toner and apply a moisturizer as the last step. When looking for a ceramide-rich day cream, choose one that contains SPF (or apply a sunscreen in addition to your moisturizer).

Do ceramides reduce the signs of aging?

Woman looking in the mirror touching her skin

As you age, your skin becomes thinner and more cracked. The surface of your skin often becomes dry and fine lines appear. Incorporating ceramides into your routine ensures that you are keeping your skin as strong and vibrant as possible no matter what age. If you are dedicated to an anti-aging skincare routine and you incorporate ceramides into your morning and nighttime routine, it's likely that these nutrients will help fight signs of wrinkles.

Just as your body needs water each day, so does your skin. Hydrating your skin each day with a ceramide-rich moisturizer is not unlike drinking 8 glasses of water for your skin.

Are there any side effects of using ceramides?

Ceramides have no known side effects and are a naturally occurring lipid already present in your body. However, each person is unique, and each product is different. Most lotions containing ceramides contain other ingredients, too, and some of these could cause irritation.

If you are prone to reactions when using creams or have sensitive skin, speak with your dermatologist before incorporating ceramides into your anti-aging skincare routine.

What else should I do besides use ceramides?

Woman wearing hat out in the sun for optimal sun protection

The benefits of ceramides go skin deep, but there is more that you can be doing each day to ensure your skin looks and feels youthful at any age.

Feed your skin with healthy foods—What you consume through food directly correlates to not only how you feel, but also how you look. Eating a diet rich in healthy fats, fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein and whole grains will provide your body the essential nutrients it needs to function and look your best.

Creams and moisturizers are great for your skin, but you should be feeding your skin the nutrients it needs with what is on your plate. Foods like papaya, broccoli, spinach, avocado and even nuts are excellent sources of skin healthy nutrients.

Get your beauty sleep—Using a ceramide-based cream is great to lock in moisture, but if you aren't getting proper rest each night, your anti-aging regimen is working harder (not smarter) than it's supposed to.

Without 8 hours of sleep each night your body and skin won't be able to repair from the day before. Your late-night rendezvous will only further the appearance of aging skin and throw your anti-aging strategy off-track.

Shield your skin from the sun–Ceramides are formulated to help lock in moisture and maintain healthy skin, but for those who like to worship the sun may be counteracting those benefits.

Going out into the sun without a moisturizer that contains SPF is like trying to get something out of the oven without a glove or mitt. Be proactive about your sun exposure, avoid sunbathing and always use sunscreen to help protect your skin cells from oxidative stress caused by UV exposure, which speeds up the aging process.

About the Author: Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.