ASCP Skin Deep

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2020

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26 ascp skin deep january/february 2020 Healthy and Hydrated Ceramides are moisture magnets that create a protective layer by Alex Caspero The same way that fat makes food taste better, ceramides make your skin feel better. For smooth, hydrated skin, you need more fat— specifically, ceramides. Imagine your skin cells like bricks in a house, layered together with cement to hold them firmly in place. The cement that holds those skin cell bricks in place is exactly what ceramides do in the body—they reduce the amount of external toxins that get in while also holding in moisture. WHAT ARE CERAMIDES? Consider ceramides as moisture magnets that create a protective layer to lock in hydration. Comprised of mostly waxy lipid molecules, ceramides are found in the uppermost layer of skin, the epidermis, and make up roughly 50 percent of our outer skin. Ceramide health is essential to our overall skin health. Reduced production of ceramides increases skin permeability, which can also lead to damaged skin over time. As we get older, our ceramide levels naturally decline, leading to rough, dry, and dull skin. We lose about 40 percent of skin ceramides in our 30s, and 60 percent in our 40s. Unfortunately, it's not just age that depletes our ceramide levels. One small study found a steep drop in ceramide levels between summer and winter, which is likely the result of excess exposure to low-humidity environments, air pollution, UV rays, and sun damage.1 HOW CERAMIDES HELP YOUR SKIN As the skin's ceramide levels decrease, exposure to outside factors like sun damage, harsh temperatures, and pollution can result in even faster declines because the protective barrier is diminished. Remember that water and fat do not like each other, so having a fat-rich ceramide barrier helps keep skin hydrated and plump. In some skin conditions, like in chronic acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis, there is an increase in hyperkeratinization, or increased skin shedding. This can further lead to increased redness, dry skin, and itchy skin. High levels of ceramides can reduce these concerns. HOW TO INCREASE SKIN CERAMIDES Most of the studies related to skin ceramides are done using topical applications or supplements. The beauty industry is well- versed in these benefits, and ceramides can be found in a variety of products— especially night creams and serums. Supplements are another option to increase skin ceramide levels. In one industry-sponsored study, women who took a supplement of 350 mg wheat- derived ceramides for three months had significant improvements in skin hydration in their arms and legs.2 Participants also noted a reduction in skin roughness and itchiness with an increase in overall hydration and suppleness. In terms of diet, it's all about consuming healthy fats. This includes mostly plant- based fats like hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and olive oil. Ceramides also exist naturally in some foods in the form of phytoceramides, found in whole-wheat products, rice, corn, spinach, and beets. Notes 1. J. Rogers et al., "Stratum Corneum Lipids: The Effect of Ageing and the Seasons," Archives of Dermatological Research 288, no. 12 (November 1996): 765–70. 2. Sonia Guillou et al., "The Moisturizing Effect of a Wheat Extract Food Supplement on Women's Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo- Controlled Trial," International Journal of Cosmetic Science 33, no. 2 (April 2011): 138–43. expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE

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