Phytoceramides for smoother, healthier and more hydrated skin (2023)

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DoorChristine Ruggeri, CHHC

February 19, 2022


Phytoceramides for smoother, healthier and more hydrated skin (1)

If you have dry, dull skin, this might be less of a problemceramide(or fatty acids in your skin). This can be caused by age, colder weather, sun damage, air pollution and other environmental factors. In an effort to compensate for this lack of lipids in the skin, phytoceramides are becoming increasingly popular in the cosmetic and skin care industries.

These vegetable fatty acids play the role of fats that are naturally present in the skin and are essential for a smooth, youthful appearance.

What are phytoceramides?

Phytoceramides are plant-based fatty acids that are used on the skin to relieve dryness and irritation and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Ceramides are long-chain fatty acids that are naturally found in the outer layer of human skin. In fact, these lipids make up about 50 percent of the epidermis, but with age and environmental factors, ceramide production can decrease over time.

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"Phyto" means plant, so phytoceramides are plant lipids used to mimic lipids produced by humans. Obtaining fat from plants is a safer, more natural way to redistribute fat without the need for synthetics.

Benefits of Phytoceramide

The benefits of phytoceramides derive from the restoration of fatty acids that protect the skin's protective barrier and retain moisture. Without enough moisture, your skin becomes dry, cracked and more prone to infections.

Here is an overview of the main benefits of phytoceramide:

1. Retains moisture

Ceramides keep skin hydrated, and when levels drop, allow moisture to escape. Ceramides do not add moisture to the skin like oils or lotions, but they strengthen the skin's natural barrier that keeps moisture under the first layer.

Low ceramide content, and thus less moisture in the layers of the skin, make your skin more susceptible to absorbing irritants and pollution, which can cause infections, acne and more. Plus, the loss of moisture means you're left with dry, rough-textured, red patches and even flaky skin.

A study published inClinical, cosmetic and research dermatologydiscovered that it is naturally derived from oilphytoceramides are useful for cosmetic applicationsin the development of the ideal moisturizing cream for the skin barrier. Phytoceramides improved the rate of recovery of damaged skin and improved hydration better than non-plant ceramides.

2. Can reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Because they work to lock in moisture and improve dryness, phytoceramides can help smooth fine lines and wrinkles that are more visible on dry skin. Fatty acids act as a protective barrier that locks in moisture and keeps the skin soft and subtle.

Research published inEuropean Journal of Farmaceutica en Biofarmaceuticasuggests that replacement of depleted ceramides has beneficial effects on skin barrier restoration. For this particular studyoat ceramides were comparedlecithin emulsions and starch-based nanoparticles to measure possible protective effects on the skin.

3. Supports overall skin health

In a review published inPharmacology and physiology of the skinresearchers describe ceramides as the "backbone of intercellular lipid membranes" responsible for skin barrier function.Research showsthat skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin aging are characterized by a dysfunctional skin barrier and dryness, which is associated with reduced ceramides.

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4. Helps absorb other skin products

Phytoceramide cream can be used in combination with other skin care products, such as those containingkojichuur, glycerin andhyaluronic acidwhich are used for their antiaging and skin lightening effects. Fatty acids aid in the penetration and absorption of these other products, potentially sealing them into the skin and enhancing their effects.

How to use

The most popular (and probably the most useful) form of phytoceramide is a topical cream. The cream helps restore fatty acids in the skin, improve hydration and strengthen the skin's protective barrier.

To use phytoceramide cream, apply to the face, neck and chest on slightly damp skin after bathing, when your pores are open. If you do not bathe before use, wash your face with warm water, pat dry and then apply a moisturizer.

If you use other cosmetic products, apply them immediately after the phytoceramide cream.

The use of a cream supplemented with phytoceramides is recommended, but there is no clear evidence that internal application is as effective as topical application.

Dietary supplements and dosage

The verdict is still out on the effectiveness of consuming phytoceramide supplements for skin health. There are some studies, but most have been done by cream or vitamin manufacturers.

Although evidence is limited, phytoceramide supplements are used to reduce dryness and hyperpigmentation. The idea is that the consumption of phytoceramide continuously delivers fatty acids to the skin, which supports fatty acid levels below the skin's surface.

There is no recommended dose based on research, but most supplement guidelines suggest 10-70 milligrams per day.

Ceramides are also available in foods including eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, wheat and millet. However, it is not clear whether consuming ceramide works to improve skin hydration and appearance to the same extent as a topical product would.

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Risks and side effects

Creams with phytoceramides are considered safe and non-irritating. However, people's sensitivities are different, so it's best to take it easy with any new skin care product.

If you notice any irritation, redness, itching or dryness, stop using the cream immediately. Make sure the product you choose does not contain any added ingredients that could cause side effects.

Talk to your doctor before taking phytoceramide supplements, especially if you plan to take them daily. They are a type of fatty acid, so people who need to limit their fat intake should be careful.


  • Phytoceramides are plant-based fatty acids that are used on the skin to relieve dryness and irritation and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • They are used as a supplement to our natural ceramides, long-chain fatty acids that are naturally found in the outer layer of human skin. Over time, ceramides decrease and can cause dry skin that is more prone to infections.
  • Phytoceramide creams are used to strengthen the skin's protective barrier, retain moisture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and help absorb other cosmetic products.

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What does Phytoceramides do for the skin? ›

Phytoceramides can help increase our ceramides in our skin to help reduce signs of aging. Oral Phytoceramides work to restore the protective barrier, hydrate from the inside-out by helping skin cells stick together to hold in moisture.

What is the difference between ceramides and Phytoceramides? ›

Another way to classify ceramides is based on their origin. Phytoceramide describes ceramides derived from plants like wheat, corn, oats and rice through a fermentation process. Alternatively, synthetic ceramides are created in a lab without using plant origin building blocks.

What foods are high in Phytoceramides? ›

But there are also plant sources of ceramides (sometimes referred to as phyto-ceramides), including soybeans (the highest plant source), wheat germ, sesame, coconut, grape seeds, peanuts, spinach, potatoes/sweet potatoes, rice, millet, and some fruits.

What are the side effects of oral ceramides? ›

There are no known side effects of using products with ceramides. “They're safe and easily tolerable for those of all ages and skin types, including those with eczema and psoriasis,” Rubin says.


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