Written by Chloe Burcham
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Ceramides are often considered as the building blocks of our skin barrier. Here’s why you should look for a cleanser that contains them.
Whether you consider yourself a skincare aficionado or not, you’ve likely heard of ceramides before. Found in a whole host of skincare products, everything from cult cleansers to leave-on masks, ceramides are one of those buzzy ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, that’s often touted for being ultra-hydrating and kind-to-skin.
But a new survey* has revealed that ceramides are an ingredient that 52% of dermatologists agree we should be looking out for in our cleansers. Why? Because they’re key to looking after the health of our skin barrier and avoid overly stripping skin of important and beneficial natural oils.
Intrigued? We were too. So we quizzed a handful of dermatologists on why ceramides are such an important ingredient to look out for – plus, the best cleansers to shop this winter. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know…
What are ceramides?
Let’s start with the basics. “Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids (long-chain fatty acids) found within the skin,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “They make up around 50% of your skin’s composition and are effectively the mortar between your skin cells.”
This skin barrier is the first line of defence against external aggressors and if it becomes weakened, it can result in dryness, irritation and itchiness. “Ceramides are important in protecting your skin from environmental aggressors (think free radicals, pollution) and for helping to prevent trans-epidermal water loss – the result of which is a healthy and well-functioning skin barrier.”
Can all skin types benefit from using ceramides?
In short, yes. Whether you have dry, sensitive, acne-prone or oily skin – we all have naturally occurring ceramides in our skin. Plus, much like collagen and elastin, our ceramide levels start to decrease as we get older, resulting in a weakened skin barrier.
Not only that but harsh, foaming cleansers can also strip our skin of ceramides, resulting in gaps appearing in between our skin cells which water can escape from (this is trans-epidermal water loss). Using a cleanser with added ceramides will ensure that your skin barrier is replenished and kept strong and healthy.
If you’ve gone overboard on skincare acids or retinol, ceramides are also great at rebuilding your skin barrier and soothing areas of irritation.
Why are ceramides especially important in winter?
“The colder weather, wind and rain can cause skin to become drier in the winter months, causing it to feel rough, scaly and irritated,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite. “Central heating also dries out and dehydrates the skin. During the winter months, our skin is under constant attack from the harsh outdoor elements as well as central heating, leaving our skin dehydrated.”
Best ceramide based cleansers
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser
Kate Somerville’s DeliKate line is packed full of soothing ceramides – perfect for dry or highly sensitised skin. This creamy gel-like cleanser is soft and creamy on the skin, leaving your complexion clean and nourished.
Shop Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser at Space NK, £38
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
This gentle gel cleanser is enriched with CeraVe’s complex of three essential ceramides – all of which help to protect the skin barrier. Added hyaluronic acid helps skin retain hydration while the fragrance-free formula is great for even sensitive skin types.
Shop CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser at Boots, £10
Pacifica Vegan Ceramide Extra Gentle Face Wash
This ceramide-fuelled face wash is a great cleanser for a gentle, fuss-free cleanse. Marshmallow root extract and calendula also help to soothe and calm irritated skin.
Shop Pacifica Vegan Ceramide Extra Gentle Face Wash at Cult Beauty, £12
Holika Holika Good Cera Super Ceramide Foaming Wash
If you’re a devoted fan of foaming cleansers but still want the nourishing effects of ceramides, this is the one for you. It’s ultra gentle on the skin but still froths up like a dream. Win-win.
Shop Holika Holika Good Cera Super Ceramide Foaming Wash at Lookfantastic, £18.65
Revolution Skincare Ceramides Hydrating Cleanser
Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, this simple cleanser is a great option for all skin types. It boasts a blend of five ceramides, plus hyaluronic acid to help promote a healthier-looking complexion.
Shop Revolution Skincare Ceramides Hydrating Cleanser at Lookfantastic, £9
*The survey was conducted online within the United States by OnePoll on behalf of CeraVe from 6-11 July, 2021, among 2,000 US adults aged 18-40.
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