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Let’s Talk About Ceramides (and Why Some Say They’re the Key to Youthful Skin)

You don’t have to be a skin-care junkie to have heard the word “ceramide” lately. More and more beauty products are adding in the ingredient with pretty lofty claims that it’ll give you healthier, younger-looking skin. But is it a bunch of malarkey? Since we’re always after baby-smooth skin, we had to get the details and see what all this hype is about.

So…what is it? A ceramide is a lipid found in our bodies that keeps the skin’s outer layer hydrated. “Not only do ceramides keep the surface of the skin intact, but they also have cell-signaling ability to tell the fibroblasts around them to rearrange skin into healthy layers,” says Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice and author of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. Unfortunately, our bodies slow down in creating ceramides as we get older, which in turn causes wrinkles and extra-dry skin. That’s why some skin-care products include small amounts of ceramides—to replenish what your body once had. 

OK, so how do I use it? Ceramides usually come as a gel, cream or serum. Simply apply daily under your usual moisturizer. But don’t expect dramatic results at first application. Ceramides are a slow burn that gradually builds over time with regular, consistent use.

Where can I buy the stuff? There’s a decent possibility your beauty arsenal already includes ceramides in some products (most labels will actually say ceramide, but also look for Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide and Hexadecanamide). If not, here are our picks for trying something new: Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules ($78), Too Cool For School Coconut Ceramide Mask ($6) and Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Gel-Cream ($49).

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