A component of the skin barrier, ceramides are lipids or fat molecules that help the skin retain moisture and allow for proper function. Ceramides are the body's natural moisturizer, and the barrier that prevents dehydration. They are produced naturally by the skin, but they become depleted over time as we age. After age 20, the body produces fewer ceramides at a loss of one percent per year.
Anything that will strip your skin of oils can cause ceramide levels to fall - including harsh detergents and exposure to solvents, like hand sanitizer. As a part of the skin’s barrier layer, they help protect it from exposure to environmental aggressors like pollution and dry air.
Luckily, there are many skincare products with ceramides that help replenish ceramide levels. They are used to replenish the natural lipids that are lost from exposure to harsh environmental factors, use of drying products and during the natural aging process. They restore moisture, reinforce the skin's natural barrier and help protect it against harm from harmful elements.
Another factor that affects your ceramide levels and overall skin health is what you eat as diet influences barrier production in skin. Eat leafy greens, lean protein, and good oils, such as coconut and avocado. Ceramides can also be found in wheat germ, brown rice, spinach, and beets.