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What Are Phytoceramides and Why Are They In Your Skin Cream?

July 23, 2020 | Anshul Kaushik

What Are Phytoceramides and Why Are They In Your Skin Cream?

If you’re super into skincare, or at the very least, try to use products that assist with dry skin or aging, it’s likely you already use phytoceramides in your routine. Phytoceramides are a plant-derived fat molecule that mimics the skin's natural barrier functions to smooth and moisturize. The term “phyto” means plant, so the word “phytoceramides” means these ceramides are found in plants.

Ceramides are a class of compounds, along with fatty acids, proteins, and cholesterol found in the skin’s outer layer, that help retain moisture. By plumping up the skin, this boost of moisture can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and make the skin appear healthier and stronger.

Phytoceramides can be extracted from wheat, rice, and sweet potatoes and can be found in supplement form as well as in lotions that you place directly on the skin. When it comes to finding it in products, there is more than one type of ceramide used in skincare. If you’re looking for a product to heal dry, irritated skin, you can look for one that has ceramides 1, 3, or 6-II. Ceramides 2 and 3 are widely used in products designed for the face and the neck. Ceramide may also appear in products as sphingosine. This is an amino acid chain that includes ceramide as one of its molecules. When your skin begins to lose its natural production of ceramides, you’re left with is a complexion that lacks some of its original brightness, smoothness, and plumpness, and that can lead to the fine lines and wrinkles you’ve tried to avoid.

Additionally, when on the hunt for phytoceramide-packed products, look for packaging that has opaque, airtight bottles, and tubes. Jars and similar packaging expose the bulk of the product to light and air with each use. This exposure may render the product ineffective over time. And always pay attention to product expiration dates, since the efficacy of what’s inside decreases over time.

So, let’s look at all the ways phytoceramides can help with your skin concerns.

It’s a powerful moisturizer

It should come as no surprise that many popular brands pack their products with ceramides. Adding phytoceramides to your skincare routine does seem to have promising skin-quenching benefits. In one small study, women who applied phytoceramides to their legs for three weeks saw improved skin hydration.

Ceramides are natural to the human body, but as we age, ceramide productive will slow down no matter what we do to try and prevent it. Ceramides are what is found underneath the first layer of skin, giving skin its elasticity and smooth surface. So of course, as ceramide production slows down, we notice our skin lose that coveted elasticity, leaving skin feeling dry and leading to discomfort. This makes adding phytoceramides into your skincare routine essential for maintaining healthy looking and feeling skin.

In recent studies, it was found that phytoceramides reduce the risk of side effects that synthetic ceramides pose to the body. The fact phytoceramides are extracted from plants that can make it a much safer alternative. The only potential risk is if you’re allergic, so always test on a small patch of skin first before applying to all affected areas.

It functions as an anti-aging tool

Being proactive about your anti-aging routine is key to fighting wrinkles. It’s much more difficult to reduce the appearance of wrinkles once they’ve already made their appearance. To maintain your skin’s integrity, get ahead of the game and start using the right products to boost your skin health early.

Board-certified dermatologist Kiera Barr, M.D., explains, "Ninety percent of visible aging is due to sun exposure, with air pollution, smoking, and stress being close seconds." In order to keep your skin protected, you need to manage those stressors and make sure your skin’s barrier is strong.

Since ceramides are found right under the skin’s surface, they’re key in defending the harmful environmental toxins that cause damage. Using skin cream packed with phytoceramides can drastically support your skin’s natural ceramides, keeping your skin strong enough to ward off wrinkles and other visible signs of aging.

If you’re not too keen on using harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients on your skin, then phytoceramides are your new best friend in fighting the signs of aging.

It can help clear up blemishes

Of course, hormones can take a lot of the blame when it comes to breakouts. While phytoceramides can’t do much about your fluctuating hormones, they can help if your body is failing to produce enough ceramides. If you suffer from acne, it’s likely you have low ceramide levels that are exacerbating your breakouts. A weak skin barrier from stress or poor diet can easily trigger acne. And even though your instinct to clearing up oily, acne-prone skin is to dry it out, dry skin only makes the problem worse.

A common side effect of acne treatment is dry skin. Most products developed for acne-prone skin work to make your skin less oily, which does help clear up breakouts. But if you don’t replenish your skin with the right kind of moisture, the breakouts only continue in a vicious, unmanageable cycle. Facial moisturizers and body creams with phytoceramides can safely protect your skin from drying out and making your acne woes worse by strengthening the barrier of your skin.

It can help with eczema and dermatitis

Both eczema and dermatitis can be extremely uncomfortable to live with, but both are treatable. Research has found that both topical application and internal consumption of plant-based ceramides have multiple health-promoting effects upon the skin.

The outer epidermis layer of skin is made up of primary keratinocytes. Surrounding the keratinocytes is an intercellular substance made up of cholesterol and free fatty acids. Ceramides make up between 40 and 50 percent of this material. And since ceramides make up the largest portion of lipids among healthy skin cells, using phytoceramide-rich lotions and creams can help your skin from becoming inflamed and irritated. Phytoceramides can help repair a poorly functioning skin barrier which is common among eczema-sufferers.

Phytoceramides complement your other skincare products and can actually help you better achieve the results of those additional products. For maximum benefits, look for restorative products with ingredients like antioxidants, peptides, and retinol.

And if you want to help your skin from naturally losing its ceramides, you can follow these steps:

  • Keep showers on the short side (no more than 10 minutes).
  • Always use lukewarm to warm water instead of hot
  • Use a gentle soap or cleanser
  • Pat your skin dry instead after showering instead of rubbing to avoid physically irritating the skin
  • Apply a moisturizer immediately after showering when your skin is still a little damp as the lotion will help seal in some of this moisture
  • Keep a humidifier or two in your house to combat dry air if you notice your skin gets dry and itchy in the winter.
  • And of course, incorporate a ceramide-rich moisturizer to your skincare regimen, especially if you have sensitive or compromised skin.

Phytoceramides are a safe and effective ingredient in helping your skin stay healthy and strong from head to toe. They’ve become a more and more popular ingredient in skincare products, so luckily, it won’t be tough to track down. You’ll quickly find that you don’t want your daily routine to be without phytoceramides once you begin to see the many benefits using it can have.

What skincare problems have you had that using phytoceramides has drastically helped with? Let us know your experience using this powerhouse ingredient in the comments below.