What Are Peptides & Ceramides?

Honestly it can be really easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for skincare products. New and exciting ingredients seem to pop up every day and many of them claim to be the one and only way to cure many of your skincare concerns.

Although spotlight ingredients/products in the beauty world tend to come in waves and I’m here to break down the basics, because while fad beauty can be fun, active ingredients that are designed to actually change your skin are funner. Which is why today I wanted to chat about two of my faves: ceramides and peptides – so let’s get started.

Firstly, What Are Ceramides?

In my opinion, ceramides are a true skincare hero ingredient and one that should be introduced to your face ASAP. They’re essential in keeping your skin hydrated, help it to retain moisture and assist the protective skin barrier to function as healthy as can be.

They’re also essential long chain fatty acids found naturally in all layers of our epidermis, making up approximately half of the surface layers of the skin - and without them our skin would be much more prone to dryness or irritation.

To get a better visual representation, Medical Director from Youth Lab Clinic, Dr Kate Jameson breaks down the job that ceramides play in our skin by using a common bricks and mortar analogy to describe the protective skin barrier to me.

“If you think of the bricks as the skin cells, it is ceramides that are holding these bricks together, acting as the mortar. They are essential for cellular function and work closely with other molecules in the skin.”

Hence why if ceramides are lacking within the skin then external threats such as UV, pollution and irritants can start to cause problems. “Issues with increased transepidermal water loss and lack of moisture retention tend to occur too,” Dr Jameson adds.

So, How Can Ceramides Benefit Our Skin?

As we age, our levels of ceramides decrease which results in more fragile and vulnerable skin. Which is why (when functioning optimally) ceramides will protect the skin from pollution, bacteria and other environmental insults.

“When used in skincare, ceramides moisturise the skin and form a waterproof, protective barrier. Long term use of ceramides in your skin care routine will also reduce and prevent inflammation which will further reduce dehydration and environmental damage. The end result? Skin that has less fine lines, smoother texture and is stronger and more able to withstand environmental stressors,” Dr Jameson says.

Which Skin Types Benefit Most From Ceramides?

The best thing about ceramides, is that EVERY skin type can benefit from them without causing side effects or irritation. “However, ceramides are especially beneficial in sensitised skin and can treat skin conditions such as eczema and atopic and irritant dermatitis, and impaired dehydrated skins which have a damaged barrier,” Dr Jameson says. 

“Ageing skin will also benefit with the retained moisture thus reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Ceramides are an essential ingredient in any skin care which aims to protect and hydrate, and are especially useful after procedures such as laser treatments for an accelerated recovery.”

Side note: ceramides can also be used all over the body, face, hair and even your lips!

Now, What Are Peptides?

Peptides are increasing in popularity every day. Touted as an anti-ageing superhero ingredient they’re one that gives people bang for their buck – minus the irritation. Essentially though, peptides are short chains of amino acids that make up larger proteins – which are the building blocks of our skin.

 Dr Jameson tells me “peptides work to increase collagen and elastin production and can also modulate neurotransmitter release so they can improve wrinkles caused by collagen loss and also muscle movement. While certain peptides can stimulate repair of damaged skin cells, inhibit processes in the skin that can cause skin ageing and enhance collagen production without any irritation that may occur with topical retinoids (vitamin A).”

 Plus, they don’t result in any water loss from the skin and can maintain a healthy skin barrier – making them sound too good to be true!

There are a lot of different peptides on the market, which can make things a little confusing. However, Dr Jameson says “there are three main categories of peptides for skin that are used in cosmetic dermatology - signal peptides, carrier peptides and neurotransmitter modulating peptides. Each of these common types of peptide have different functions and will result in different changes to the skin.”

Which Skin Types Benefit Most From Peptides?

All skin types can benefit from using peptides in their skincare routine. They’re a versatile ingredient, with a wide safety profile making them essential for healthy skin function. Although if ageing is one of your skin concern’s Dr Jameson says, peptides could be especially beneficial for you.

“Peptides are especially beneficial for anyone who is interested in repairing cellular damage and slowing down skin ageing through collagen and elastin stimulation. Peptides are also beneficial in those seeking to soften fine lines and wrinkles as well as improve skin firmness and texture.“

Adding peptides to your skincare routine won’t deliver results straight away, because like any collagen and elastin stimulating treatment the process can take up to 12 weeks.

However, Dr Jameson reminds me that “considering we lose 1% of the collagen within our skin from our 30s it is certainly worth the short wait for these products to take effect,” - and I agree!

Looking To Add Peptides And Ceramides To Your Routine?

Legit the best mask to use post skin treatments although also a goodie to have on hand when your skin needs a pep me up. I’d suggest keeping them for a treat as they leave you looking insanely glowy (and they ain't cheap). These masks suck all the inflammation out of stressed or recovering skin, and make an excellent pre-event mask. Plus, it comes in two parts to adjust to your face.

PCA Skin serums need more love, yes they’re pricey BUT they deliver the results. The brand is totally underrated. I love this peptide serum for smoother, more youthful looking skin! A must for those worried about ageing who are avoiding retinols and injectables.

An easy way to deeply hydrate and increase ceramides in your skin, Humidify helps skin retain moisture for longer, soothes and treats redness and irritation caused by dryness and boosts skin’s barrier function. I love it during winter to lock all my serums in. It leaves your skin visibly plump.

This intensely hydrating night cream is packed with antioxidants and ceramides to restore and protect the skin, and has a calming botanical aroma to prepare you for a restful night’s sleep. It's ideal for use after retinol or Vitamin A products, protects against and repairs free radical damage, while encouraging cell repair.