When your complexion seems to stay irritated no matter what you use, the problem could lie within your skin's barrier. The barrier is the outermost layer of your skin, which comes in contact with all of the elements. It prevents moisture and water from escaping, though depending on the environment and how aggressive you are with exfoliating treatments, it gets exposed to a lot of external aggressors. However, by incorporating more ceramides into your regime, you can simultaneously repair that barrier and reduce inflammation.
"Ceramides are lipid molecules found naturally in the skin. They're a type of oily wax that holds skin cells together, and form a protective barrier in the top layer of skin," explains Bernard Kim, CEO of SkinRx Lab. "They help repair the barrier, and although your skin does naturally create its own ceramides, environmental factors and aging can lower your skin's natural production, so boosting your levels with a ceramide cream is essential. When skin is low in ceramides, it's more prone to redness and dryness."
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Ceramide creams like the SkinRx MadeCera formula ($36; ulta.com) are hydrating enough to replace your daily moisturizer but aren't so heavy that they'll clog the pores of oilier skin types. In fact, they actually perform a balancing act and can help reduce oil production, especially if products targeting the issue have caused you to become even oilier—trust us, it happens. Ceramides can also be used over dry areas on the body, and are available in every form from a toner or essence to a cream or serum. Keep in mind, however, not all ceramide products are created equally.
"When choosing a formula, be sure to look for a product with a high concentration of ceramides," Kim adds. "Look for it in the top half of the ingredients listing. If they are listed at the bottom, the product probably contains a very small concentration. Additionally, naturally fermented ceramides are easier for your skin to absorb."