Edwina Ings-Chambers: Ceramides, your skin’s secret weapons

They keep nasties out and hydration in: ceramides have been a go-to skincare ingredient for years. And now they’re even cleverer.

Ceramides are not exactly a new ingredient in skincare; Elizabeth Arden was talking about their importance 30 years ago. But lately there has been a renewed focus on them. It’s a trend that Mark Curry, co-founder of affordable skincare brand The Inkey List, says could be down to better understanding about how our body’s own ceramide production ‘decreases by approximately one per cent every year as we age’.

That loss is important because, as dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite of the Mallucci London clinic puts it, ‘ceramides make up 50 per cent of our skin’s natural barrier; think of them as the mortar that holds the bricks [skin cells] together. They play an important role in maintaining skin hydration and boosting our skin’s natural defences.’ Also, she says, because ceramides are hydrating they help ‘prevent potential irritation from drying ingredients such as retinol and AHAs and are helpful for those with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema’. In other words, they’re good for all skin types and help with a dry complexion.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Micro Capsule Skin Replenishing EssenceSince the brand started it all, let’s begin with Elizabeth Arden’s latest addition to its ceramides range: Ceramide Micro Capsule Skin Replenishing Essence (£45, elizabetharden.co.uk). It’s more of a light gel texture than the liquid formula that ‘essence’ might suggest. ‘I think the industry is learning a lot about ceramides,’ agrees Karelle Messner, vice president of skincare product development at Arden. ‘Our new micro essence is a different approach to what we have done in the past. It contains an algae that optimises skin’s natural ceramide production and doesn’t actually contain ceramide. Think of it as a “skin starter” that preps your skin to receive the most benefits from the rest of your skincare regimen.’

Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water 3-Ceramide Blend with Wild Melon Seed OilDrunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water 3-Ceramide Blend with Wild Melon Seed Oil (£24, spacenk.com from 1 July) is a lightweight and gentle cleanser which, thanks to those ceramides, leaves skin feeling moisturised, too. It’s also formulated without the modern ingredient nasties of fragrance, silicones, sulphates and PEGs.

Sunday riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing CreamFor a good facial moisturiser look to Sunday Riley, which has recently launched ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream (£60, cultbeauty.co.uk). It’s a rich but not heavy texture and comes fortified with vitamin F, a building block of ceramides.

DeliKate Recovery SerumKate Somerville has launched DeliKate, a new range aimed at stressed – or sensitised – skin after cosmetic procedures, home peels or using retinols, vitamin C and acids, so it’s rich in comforting ceramides. There’s a cream cleanser, a light moisturiser and, my favourite, DeliKate Recovery Serum (£70, katesomerville.co.uk) which is a reformulated version of her already much-loved Kx Omegas & Ceramides Serum. It sinks straight in and my always-thirsty skin is loving it. The whole range is fragrance, parabens, sulphate and mineral oil-free.

The Inkey List Ceramide Night TreatmentThe Inkey List Ceramide Night Treatment (£14.99, theinkeylist.com) was launched late last year and the fragrance-free formula also contains hyaluronic acid, which means it has an extra moisturising boost.

Curél Intensive Moisture Facial CreamA special mention to Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream (£19.50, boots.com). This doesn’t have ceramides in its name but it is formulated with them at its heart. A top-selling range for sensitive and dry skin in Japan, it launched here last year and is brilliant stuff. I always have this on the go and it’s doubling up as hand treatment at the moment – it’s just that good at sorting out my distressed skin. Ceramides may not always be in a product name, so it’s worth checking the ingredient list on the packaging.

cerave moisturising creamCerave is also a range built around ceramides and its tub of Moisturising Cream (£16, boots.com) is great for the body, too, and comes with extra moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid.

My favourite multi-tasker

liha Idan OilDo you have some beauty products that you love so much but use sparingly because you never want them to run out? I have. And the Idan Oil (£39, lihabeauty.com) from Liha is one of them. This is so luxurious – it’s made from cold-pressed coconut oil, smells glorious (thanks to tuberose – a flower is in every bottle) and is housed in some of the most chic packaging I’ve seen. Idan is the Yoruba (Nigerian) word for magic, which pretty much sums up this all-rounder: use as face or body oil or even a leave-in hair treatment.

The brand, founded by two friends, merges their African roots with a British attitude, and also includes shea butters, soaps and candles. Warning: once you’ve tried Idan Oil you won’t want to be without it.

Soak up this luxury treat

soapsmith Bath SoakIf you’re looking for a product to aid an indulgent soak in the tub then allow me to steer you towards the latest offering from Soapsmith. It’s called Bath Soak (£25, soapsmith.com) and comes in three fragrances, all of which are named after areas of London, the brand’s home town. I’ve tried Bloomsbury – inspired by the rose bushes around London’s Bloomsbury Square Gardens – and it’s more of a sensual than pretty take on the flower.

Also on offer is Camden (incense and spices) and Lavender Hill (French lavender with jasmine). The soak itself is made with Dead Sea salt and a coconut milk powder which lends everything a rich and sumptuous feel. Add a couple of scoops to your bath water and know that you’re in for a real treat. And that coconut milk also leaves skin feeling soft and nourished afterwards. Like all Soapsmith products it comes in recyclable glass packaging.