Are you tired of applying various skincare products without seeing the desired results? If yes, it’s time to try a dynamic duo that can deliver amazing benefits to your skin. Ceramides and hyaluronic acid are two essential ingredients that can transform your skin’s look and feel.
In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind these two skincare powerhouses and explore the surprising benefits they offer when used together.
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There are three main components in your skin that keeps it naturally hydrated:
- The lipid matrix in your skin barrier that holds your skin cells together to create a waterproof barrier (made up of around 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% fatty acids)
- The natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) that regulate how much water comes in and out of your skin cells (including amino acids, urea, lactic acid, peptides, and hyaluronic acid)
- The sebum that creates a thin film on top of your skin and traps water inside (also known as surface lipids and made up of triglycerides, wax esters, fatty acids, and squalene)
If one or more of these components are depleted, your skin can become dry and irritated.
What Are Ceramides?
Ceramides are lipids (fats) that naturally occur in your skin. They’re essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier and keeping your skin hydrated.
Although your skin naturally produces ceramides, they can be stripped from your skin by harsh cleansers, over exfoliation, and sun damage. Your skin also produces less ceramides as you age.
When you don’t have enough ceramides and other lipids in your skin, gaps form in your skin barrier that water can easily escape through and irritants can easily enter. This can leave your skin dehydrated, irritated, and sensitized.
The main reason to use skincare products containing ceramides is to replenish your skin’s naturally occurring lipids and restore your skin’s barrier.
However, there are some additional benefits to including them in your skincare routine.
For example, ceramides help to:
- Repair your skin
- Increase skin hydration
- Reduce inflammation and soothe your skin
- Reduce facial redness (e.g. rosacea)
- Protect your skin from environmental damage
- Improve acne
- Smooth fine lines and wrinkles
- Fade dark marks and brighten your overall complexion
Best Ceramide Products:
Replenix Age Restore Nighttime Therapy
La Roche Posay Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer
Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore
EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex
What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) – a type of sugar – that can hold up to 1000x its weight in water. It’s found naturally all throughout your body but over 50% of your body’s HA is found in your skin.
It’s one of the main components of your dermis (the deeper layer of your skin), alongside collagen and elastin. Here, it helps increase the firmness and elasticity of your skin via it’s hydrating effects.
As mentioned above, hyaluronic acid is also present in your skin’s natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) which are your skin’s natural humectants that help regulate water in and out of the skin cells in your epidermis.
As you age, your body produces less hyaluronic acid which can reduce the volume of your dermis and your epidermal skin cells as well as decreasing overall skin hydration.
Visually, this can be seen as dry, cracked, and irritated skin with less bounce and more visible fine lines and wrinkles.
When you apply hyaluronic acid to your skin, it acts as a humectant to draw water from your dermis into your epidermis.
Best Hyaluronic Acid Products:
Regimen Lab Wave Serum
Ceramides vs Hyaluronic Acid
The main difference between ceramides vs hyaluronic acid is how they increase skin hydration. Ceramides are a type of emollient that fill the gaps between your skin cells, encourage the natural production of barrier lipids, and smooth and nourish your skin. In contrast, hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant to draw water into your skin cells and increase skin elasticity and plumpness.
If you were only able to choose one ingredient, then hyaluronic acid would be the better choice for dehydrated skin that lacks water while ceramides would have an advantage at improving inflammation, irritation, and sensitivity by repairing your skin barrier.
However, dehydrated skin would also benefit from using ceramide based products and irritated skin would also benefit from using hyaluronic acid.
One study compared a hyaluronic acid emollient foam to a ceramide-based cream for treating eczema and found that, while both ingredients improved skin hydration, the hyaluronic acid foam was able to do so quicker. The participants in the study also found the hyaluronic acid foam more soothing than the ceramide-based cream.
Can You Use Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid Together?
Yes! In fact, using ceramides and hyaluronic acid together would be a better option than using either ingredient alone.
As mentioned earlier, there are 3 main ways your skin keeps itself hydrated; barrier lipids, NMFs, and sebum.
The most effective way to boost your skin’s hydration levels is to replace these with skincare products:
- Emollients to replace barrier lipids
- Humectants to replace NMFs
- Occlusives to replace sebum
If you have oily skin, you can probably skip the occlusives, especially as emollients can also have an occlusive effect if you apply enough of them.
Using ceramides and hyaluronic acid together can replenish both your barrier lipids and your NMFs.
The hyaluronic acid helps to draw more water into your skin while the ceramides help to strengthen your skin barrier to keep that water from escaping.
Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, help to draw water into your skin cells while the ceramides form a physical barrier to keep it there.
How To Use Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid Together
Both ceramides and hyaluronic acid can be used twice a day and are available in a wide-range of skincare products.
Ceramide-based products tend to have more of a creamy consistency while hyaluronic acid products are often water-based serums. However, you’ll often find hyaluronic acid in cleansers, toners, and creams as well.
If you’re using ceramides and hyaluronic acid in separate products, a good way to layer them is by using a hyaluronic acid serum followed by a ceramide-based moisturizer.
Humectants, like hyaluronic acid, act differently depending on your environment. In humid environments, humectants can draw the moisture from the air around you into your skin but in dry climates they’re only able to draw water from your dermis.
Which is why it’s recommended to apply hyaluronic acid to damp skin and follow with a thicker moisturizer to prevent that water from escaping through your epidermis and dehydrating your skin.
Not only that, but the hyaluronic acid can also draw the water from your moisturizer into your skin.
When it comes to ceramides, you can usually find them listed in your skincare products as:
- Ceramide NP
- Ceramide EOP
- Ceramide NS
- Ceramide EOS
Research suggests that ceramides, alone, may not be much more effective than petroleum jelly when it comes to reducing moisture loss. Instead, they should be paired with cholesterol and fatty acids in a similar ratio to how they are found naturally in your skin.
One study actually found that applying ceramides, cholesterol, or fatty acids on their own can delay skin barrier recovery.
However, when they’re used together, they can improve your skin’s hydration in as little as 30 minutes.
Skincare products that contain this lipid combination often used a premixed blend called SK-INFLUX which will be listed on the product’s ingredient list as:
Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.
Usually they will be listed in this exact order but, sometimes, there might be other ingredients listed in between.
The SK-INFLUX blend can help nourish and hydrate your skin even though it doesn’t contain ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids in the ideal 3:1:1 ratio.
Products that are closest to the 3:1:1 ratio:
Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore
The overall formulation of a product will also make a huge difference on how hydrating a ceramide-based product is.
For example, as well as hyaluronic acid, ceramides pair well with other hydrating ingredients like glycerin, panthenol, and niacinamide.
There are also ingredients known as ‘ceramide precursors’, like sphingosine and phytosphingosine, that encourage your skin to naturally produce more ceramides.
Other skincare ingredients can also encourage your skin to produce more of its own lipids, including:
- Vitamin C
Can You Use Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid Together – The Bottom Line
Yes you absolutely can use ceramides and hyaluronic acid together! In fact, it’s an excellent ingredient combination to boost skin hydration. The best way to use them together is to either use a product (usually a moisturizer) that contains both ingredients, or to layer a hyaluronic acid serum underneath a ceramide-based moisturizer.