Today’s savvy spa-goers are familiar with the benefits of many common anti-aging ingredients, such as acids, collagen, peptides, and retinol. However, there are other highly effective and under-the-radar ingredients, such as ceramides, that deserve attention when it comes to achieving younger- and healthier-looking skin. “Ceramides are waxy substances found in our skin’s lipid bi-layer and cell membranes,” says Irena James, cofounder of CelleClé and vice president of product development at YG Laboratories. “Together with cholesterol and fatty acids, they help create the ‘mortar’ between the skin layers, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin soft and supple. In addition to maintaining barrier health, ceramides also trigger cellular communication, regulating differentiation, proliferation, and programmed cell death.”
Ceramides make up 40 to 50 percent of the lipids in the stratum corneum. Age, as well as exposure to pollution, stress, and environmental aggression, all contribute to ceramide decline, which can lead to dry, itchy, and irritated skin. “When our skin is dry or irritated, our skin’s protective barrier can be compromised,” says Brittney Gardner, national marketing director at HydroPeptide. “By replenishing ceramides, skin is better able to retain moisture, keeping it healthy and protected from everyday damage.”
There are nine types of ceramides that have been identified by number, and of those, most can be found in skincare today. From moisturizers and anti-aging serums and creams targeting dry and dehydrated skin to topical skin medications to treat conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis, ceramides provide hydrating benefits suitable for a range of skin issues. “Supplementing diminishing ceramides in our skin with ceramides in moisturizers and other skin treatments, boosting ceramide content, and protecting against moisture loss helps reduce dryness and sensitivities, as well as diminish signs of aging,” says James.
At Your Service
A host of hydrating and anti-aging benefits make ceramides extremely beneficial when used in skincare treatments. “Natural ceramides are a great active featured in hydration programs and anti-aging products, as they help minimize water loss, restore the skin’s natural protective barrier, and boost skin radiance,” says Caroline Rushworth, director of education at Sothys USA. “They improve skin texture, leaving it soft, comforted, and smooth.” At Spa Rosseau at JW Marriott The Rosseau Resort & Spa (Minett, Canada), for example, guests can reap the benefits of ceramides with the Hydration Booster Facial for Dry/Dehydrated Skin ($135, 50 minutes). This facial includes an exfoliation treatment to remove dead skin, as well as an intensive hydration treatment that includes ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and botanical extracts to help restore natural moisture to the skin. Also, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City offers the Ceramide Anti-Aging Facial ($160, 50 minutes), which is a plumping treatment that helps smooth lines, strengthen texture, and enhance skin’s ability to hold moisture.
The ceramides used in skincare products are usually derived from plants or are synthetic, so they are considered safe to use on most clients, especially those with dehydrated or mature skin. However, clients with oily or acneic skin should limit the use of ceramide-based products, because they can lead to breakouts. “Ceramides are non-irritating, and their mechanism of action leads to soothing irritation caused by a compromised barrier,” says James. “They do, however, increase lipidic content of our skin, and being that ceramides are predominantly used to treat dryness, they tend to be combined in the product with other lipid-boosting materials, which in some clients, under the right set of circumstances, can lead to occasional breakouts. Products containing a high level of ceramides should be used sparingly on acne-prone clients and should not be used on active breakouts.”
A Good Choice
Ceramides can be enhanced with the proper complementary ingredients. “One ingredient does not make a great product; great products are the sum of long and arduous research, development, and testing,” says Ivana Veljkovic, Ph.D., director of research and development for PCA Skin. “Formulations should contain a variety of ingredients that work in tandem to address a specific condition.” According to Robin Carmichael, president and chief operating officer of Helix BioMedix, a ceramide-based formulation enhanced with peptides can help address barrier function and collagen support, while glycerin provides an additional boost to hydration. A product that contains ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids is best for treating eczema and psoriasis, while ceramide-based products that contain fragrance, parabens, and alcohol-based ingredients should be avoided, because they can further irritate and dry out skin. “In choosing products with ceramides, look at the underlying condition of the skin and your clients’ overall needs,” says Carmichael.
Also, prior to choosing ceramide-based skincare products to use on clients during services or for display in the retail area, spas should be aware of the source of the ceramides in the products. “The most effective ceramide products are those containing biomimetic, or human-identical, ceramides that mimic our skin’s intricate ceramide structures,” says James. “They are typically derived from soybeans or produced via biofermentation from brown rice, wheat germ, or yeast.” Rushworth recommends ceramides derived from olive and solubilized in sacha inchi seed oil and rich in omegas 3, 6, and 9, which provides skin nutrition and protection. “The ceramide-omegas complex quickly penetrates and incorporates itself into the intercellular cement to support the skin barrier, bringing immediate comfort to skin,” she says.
Because there are some animal-derived (bovine) ceramides that can still be found in some skincare products on the market, it’s crucial for you to do your research to provide the most reliable information to concerned clients. Bovine-derived ceramides have been known to carry the risk of viral infections.
Sell the Truth
While ceramides may not be among the more popular ingredients found in skincare today, it’s your staff’s job to educate clients on the benefits that ceramide-based products and treatments have on the skin and the importance of protecting the barrier of their skin. “Without a healthy, functioning barrier, the skin becomes dry, dehydrated, dull, and unhealthy,” says Veljkovic.
According to James, ceramide-based products are beneficial for dry, sensitive, and aging skin year-round, but seasonal changes, treatments aimed at dry skin, and post-peel regimens offer a great opportunity to market such products. “Winter is one of the best seasons to introduce ceramide-based products and treatments to clients who haven’t used them before, as both the indoor and outdoor environment contribute to rapid ceramide depletion,” she says.
Karen Asquith, national director of education at G.M. Collin, recommends introducing ceramides to clients by applying the contents of a ceramide capsule directly to a client’s skin after a facial, before a makeup application, or on a client’s hands before they leave the treatment room to familiarize them with the benefits and entice them to purchase ceramide-based products in the retail area. “Ceramides have an irresistible sensorial appeal,” she says. “Once the client experiences their silky, soft skin after application, they cannot wait to take them home.”
Quench clients’ thirst for skin hydration with these ceramide-based products.—Darby Radcliff
1. Aromatherapy Associates Rose Infinity Moisturizer: Reduce the appearance of fine lines and provide hydration with this nourishing complex of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and safflower oil. www.aromatherapyassociates.com
2. CBI Laboratories Botanical Bio-Peptide Crème: Erase the negative effects of aging with this antioxidant-rich formula featuring ceramides. www.cbiskincare.com
3. CelleClé CeraLipid Luxe: Refine pores with this primer formulated with antioxidants, ceramides, plant oils, and vitamins to restore skin’s natural moisture barrier and shield against environmental aggressors. www.cellecleskincare.com
4. Epicuren Discovery Orac Age-Protect Serum: Protect skin from oxidative stress with this hydrating formula featuring ceramide 2, which aims to prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. www.epicuren.com
5. G.M. Collin Daily Ceramide Comfort: Soothe skin and reduce the visible signs of aging with this replenishing formula enriched with ceramide and essential lipid complexes. www.gmcollin.com
6. HydroPeptide Firming Moisturizer: Reinforce the skin’s natural protective lipid barrier with this anti-aging body cream made with ceramide 3, which offers long-lasting hydration and repairs scar discoloration, stretch marks, and wrinkles. www.hydropeptide.com
7. Image Skincare Yana Daily Collagen Shots: This concentrated consumable cocktail features a proprietary blend of antioxidants, ceramides, collagen peptides, and vitamins, which help restore the essential elements healthy skin needs. www.imageskincare.com
8. Le Mieux Derma Relief Serum: Provide instant relief for dry, stressed skin with this lipid replacement complex featuring moisturizing and protective ceramides. www.lemieuxcosmetics.com
9. Mario Badescu Skincare Ceramide Complex with N.M.F. And A.H.A.: Brighten dull skin with this overnight cream containing exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids from lemongrass extract, vitamins A and E, and a blend of carnation and peanut oils. www.mariobadescu.com
10. PCA Skin ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum: Fight free radicals and provide the skin with an immediate tightening and lifting effect with this serum formulated with argireline, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and plant polysaccharides. www.pcaskin.com
11. Phytomer Nutritionnelle: Deeply hydrate and replenish the skin’s lipid content with this complex of ceramides, shea butter, and a quartet of marine and plant oils. www.phytomerusa.com
12. Sothys Paris Nutritive Comfort Cream: Formulated with ceramides; omegas 3, 6, and 9; and phytosterols, this nourishing formula protects skin from premature aging. www.sothys-usa.com