We’re in the thick of winter here in Oklahoma, which means my skin is desperate for moisture. There is one major thing I focus on to keep my skin moisturized during this time of year. Protecting my skin barrier! A key component of that barrier are ceramides. Today, I wanted to review why they are such an integral part of any skincare routine.
Ceramides serve 3 main functions: maintain skin barrier homeostasis, improve hydration, and prevent/treat dermatological conditions. Did you know your skin is the largest organ in your body? It’s true! On average it covers about 2 square meters and it’s not just there to look pretty. Your skin works hard by providing a physical barrier to protect you from pathogens, allergens, mechanical and chemical stress, and UV rays. It also serves to maintain moisture homeostasis and regulate your body temperature. That’s why it’s so important to care for your skin. It’s not vain, it’s part of staying healthy!
Your skin is comprised of 3 main layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.
The epidermis is the thin, outermost layer of skin that serves as our first line of defense. It is continuously regenerating by undergoing a process called keratinization. This is the process of cell turnover that occurs over the course of about 30 days in normal, healthy skin. Even though the epidermis is the thinnest layer of your skin, it is divided into 5 different layers in itself. The outermost layer is called the stratum corneum. This is the layer you can actually see. It is comprised of 10-30 layers of “dead” skin cells at the end of the keratinization process. The stratum corneum is often called a “brick and mortar” model to help visualize it. Skin cells are stacked on top of each other (like bricks) and embedded in a lipid layer (the “mortar”) comprised of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids.
The dermis is the skin layer underneath the epidermis and contains oil and sweat glands, as well a hair follicles, nerves, and capillaries.
Also known as subcutaneous tissue, the hypodermis is the deepest layer of cells. It is primarily comprised of highly vascularized adipose (i.e. fat) cells.
Understanding what each of these layers contain and how they function helps us to better treat and care for our skin. Disruptions in the health of our skin barrier not only cause unsightly blemishes, but can also result in other conditions like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and photosensitivity.
A common theme for treating and preventing all of these issues is including a product in your regimen that contains ceramides. There are SO many skincare products on the market, but the ones that are truly helpful in maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier are those fortified with ceramides. Below, I shared a few of my favorites below in case you, like me, are battling dry skin this winter. Thankfully, there are lots of products out there at all different price-points. There will be something for you no matter your budget. Just click on any of the products in the image below to shop and read more about them! Stay moisturized, friends!