Ceramides: an ally for dry skin

3-Aug-2022

With the increasing use of ceramides in topical solutions, Seppic's Lea Marchal, Nutrition Product Manager, reviews the benefits of orally ingested ceramides for inner hydration

Skin is our body’s largest organ and, above all, is the one that acts as our daily shield. It’s our first interface with the external world. However, skin can become a real source of discomfort, especially when it lacks the moisture or oils it needs to maintain itself.

Dry skin is a common health complaint that affects many people of all ages. In fact, a study from Mintel showed that 45% of UK consumers experienced dry skin in 2018.1

In this context and with the rise of holistic wellness, nutricosmetics offer new opportunities to provide skincare solutions for inner beauty and hydration. Beauty routines are now a core part of wellness habits for consumers who are aware of the importance of taking care of themselves in a more profound way for maximised and lasting effects.

Seppic, a designer of natural branded active ingredients for the nutricosmetics field, sheds light on a solution related to these major trends: phytoceramides that help to combat the discomfort of dry skin.

What is dry skin?

Skin is a three-layer organ made up of the hypodermis, the dermis and the epidermis. The outer layer is called the stratum corneum and acts as an everyday shield — making it an important barrier against the exterior environment. This layer consists of skin cells, known as corneocytes, and lipids, which are found in the intercellular spaces.

These lipids vary in structure and function (comprising cholesterol, free fatty acids, etc.) but ceramides constitute the major part and represent 50% in the stratum corneum’s matrix.

Ceramides are directly related to the phenomenon of dry skin; they play a critical role in skin integrity by supporting its function as a protective barrier and maintaining its water permeability. The first stage of the dehydration process is a lack of surface lipids — more particularly, ceramides — which weakens the skin’s barrier.2

Subsequently, inherent moisture evaporates, leading progressively to dryness. When left untreated, it can spread to the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in increased and long-term dryness. This can lead to many uncomfortable and non-aesthetic symptoms, such as scaling, itching, rough texture, cracks and even wrinkles.

Dry skin: causes and solutions

According to a Mintel study done in 2018, 50% of both German and Spanish women complained about dry skin.1 It is, therefore, a widespread phenomenon that can affect any part of the body — although it is more frequently associated with hands, arms and legs.

There are many parameters, both exogenous and endogenous, that can lead to skin dryness. One of the principal external factors is climate and, more particularly, winter. A survey of 2000 US consumers conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the personal care brand, CeraVe, found that for 42% of Americans, having dry skin in the winter is one of the things they dislike most. This compares with just 32% who listed filing taxes as their least favourite thing.3

Internal factors are mainly related to ageing, with the skin becoming increasingly thin and fragile. Even if dry skin is usually harmless, this condition may lead to complications such as atopic dermatitis and infections.4 To limit the occurrence of skin dryness, preventive solutions exist.

It is important to moisturise the skin using topical solutions and to drink enough water throughout the day. Protecting the skin from the sun or thermal shock is also crucial. To augment these behaviours, it’s possible to consume supplemental ceramides that provide the metabolites that are transported through the bloodstream to enable the skin to restore its ceramide levels in the stratum corneum.

Ceramides: proven skin hydration and beyond

More than simply increasing hydration, ceramides play a key role in reinforcing the cutaneous barrier and delaying the appearance of signs of ageing (such as wrinkles). Ceramides are very much on trend at the moment and are becoming more familiar to consumers as they are widely used in cosmetic formulations for their moisturising and antiageing effects.

For the past few decades, ceramides for ingestible applications have been the subject of a large number of scientific studies that demonstrate their potential and efficacy on the skin.

A clinical trial on Ceramosides, a patented Seppic extract containing wheat ceramides, found a significant improvement in skin hydration (16%), skin elasticity (18%) and skin wrinkles (9%) compared with a placebo in just 15 days.

The effectiveness of Ceramosides was also validated by volunteers who participated in the study, with 75% of subjects noticing a reduction of pulling sensations. The efficacy of Ceramosides has been demonstrated in both its oil and powder forms.5

Ceramides may indeed come in different forms, such as an oil or powder; it is therefore important to source the format that is the most suited to the vehicle of delivery. For example, powders would be the most appropriate choice for capsules or tablets, whereas oils would be ideal for softgels.

When it comes to sourcing oral ceramides, it’s vital that brands look for proven efficacy and quality … but also ensure that the product meets the additional requirements of consumers, such as a vegetal origin and the absence of additives or preservatives.

Conclusion

With the growing demand for nutricosmetics, ingestible moisturising products and the trend towards ceramides, wheat phytoceramides represent a natural and effective solution that’s supported by strong scientific knowledge. With Ceramosides, Seppic aims to provide a powerful tool to counteract the damaging effects of dry skin.

Seppic will continue to investigate the effects of Ceramosides to further advance the science backing up this ingredient and enable brands to develop appealing and powerful solutions for the nutricosmetics market.

References

  1. Mintel, “Create a Winter Skin Wash Category,” (2018): mintel.com.
  2. L. Coderch, et al., “Ceramides and Skin Function,” Am. J. Clin. Dermatol. 4, 107–129 (2003).
  3. Mintel, “Ingredient Watch: Hyaluronic Acid for Inner Hydration,” (2021): mintel.com.
  4. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/symptoms-causes/syc-20353885.
  5. V. Bizot, et al., “Improving Skin Hydration and Age-Related Symptoms by Oral Administration of Wheat Glucosylceramides and Digalactosyl Diglycerides: A Human Clinical Study,” Cosmetics 4(4), 37 (2017).

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