As far as skin-care ingredients are concerned, ceramides are among the most worthy of opponents when it comes to battling dry skin — which, with colder weather rearing its head, may be something that you’re all too familiar with. Thankfully, ceramide-based products are not only a favorite among dermatologists but are widely available at every price point, from drugstore (CeraVe and Amlactin) to luxury brands (Elizabeth Arden and SkinCeuticals).
“Ceramides are fatty acids in the skin that help to maintain the skin barrier and retain moisture and hydration,” Shereene Idriss, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, tells Allure. “Extreme cold-weather temperatures, exposure to hot water, and dry heat can all deplete the ceramides stored in your skin,” which is why Dr. Idriss says it’s critical to introduce ceramide-fortified products to lock in moisture and restore your skin’s barrier function. They’re also a key ingredient to look out for when treating skin conditions like eczema or moisturizing your skin after a laser treatment.
It helps to think of ceramides as the building blocks in your skin. In addition to possessing hydration-boosting properties, they’re especially key for maintaining long-term hydration and strengthening the skin’s surface against environmental stressors. When scanning your ingredient lists, look out for ceramide NP, AP, EOP, NG, NP, NS, as well as phytosphingosine and sphingosine.
“Ceramides are found in high concentrations within cell membranes,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D. says. “They hold skin cells together on the top layer of the skin, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture.” As such, barrier-fortifying products are as popular and commonplace as ever.
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