Ceramide versus retinol: which is better for your skin?

Ceramide versus retinol: which is better for your skin

Buzz-worthy skincare ingredient ceramides are having a moment, and honestly, it’s with good reason. They can solve a vast range of your skincare woes and are super well tolerated because they naturally form part of your skin’s makeup. But what are ceramides, and do they work? How do they compare to retinol or hyaluronic acid? Combining skincare ingredients can be super confusing, but don’t fear, we’re here to help! This article is basically ceramides 101: we’re going to cover what they are, we’ll break down their skincare benefits, and give you the inside track on picking the right ceramide-rich product for you.

What are ceramides?

Ceramides are fat cells that form part of your skin’s natural protective layer. They preserve moisture levels and stop aggressors like pollution and cold air from affecting your skin. Safe to say, they’re pretty critical tiny cells. You’ll often see them referred to as lipids too, which is just another way of saying fat cells. They help your skin feel soft and allow it to retain moisture, so if you’ve been moisturizing non-stop but still feel like your skin is dry, it might be that your Ceramide levels are lower than they need to be. The good news is, there are loads of products available to boost those levels. Ceramides are found in a whole range of natural ingredients, so they’re easy to incorporate into your clean skin care regimen.

Which oil has the most ceramides?

Natural oils are some of the top sources of ceramides. They make up a whopping 98% of the contents of jojoba oil, for example! Other oils that also contain high levels of fat include sunflower oil (78%), poppy seed oil (70%), and hemp oil (60%). If you’re reading labels and want to know if a product contains ceramides, look out for the oils listed above or mentions ceramides AP, NP, EOP, NG, or NS. With the ingredient being so on-trend, chances are the brand will let you know their product is rich in ceramides too!

If you don’t fancy using oil, there are tons of options for ceramide lotions. Look for ingredients including the oils listed above and hemp, soy, wheat, or rice extracts.

Do ceramides help wrinkles?

Ceramides’ benefits are super varied, and slowing the formation of wrinkles is one reason you might want to include them in your routine. By maintaining a healthy skin barrier, you will give your skin the best chance to look youthful for longer. That being said, there are other more effective ingredients you should look out for if you are looking to address wrinkles that have already made an appearance.

As well as helping with wrinkles, ceramides also help maintain your skin’s hydration levels, so it looks plump and healthy, and they have even been found to help with eczema

Can you use ceramides with retinol?

Absolutely! To understand why you can (and should) use retinol and ceramides together, let’s look at how retinol works. Retinol works by encouraging your skin’s cells to regenerate more quickly than they otherwise would. And what does retinol do to the appearance of your skin? Well, think of it as repainting the rooms in your house once every three months instead of once a year: things will look much fresher and brighter. Well, using retinol will do the same thing for your skin, so you can get that gorgeous glow

Now, while retinol’s benefits are pretty fantastic, they don’t come without their drawbacks. When you’re using retinol, you might find your skin gets dehydrated more efficiently, and it can also become more sensitive. When you first start adding retinol into your skincare routine, you might also find your breakout while your skin gets used to the new ingredient. Now, the side effects may not be the most pleasant, most people find the results worthwhile. And there are a couple of ways to mitigate the issues you might face:

1. Start slowly

When you start using a product that contains retinol, work your way up gradually. Start applying it with a patch test to make sure your skin can tolerate the ingredient. Then, using the product once a week for two weeks, twice a week for two weeks, three times a week for three weeks, and so forth. Continue like this until you find a routine that balances the results you were hoping for and doesn’t make your skin too sensitive.

2. Keep your skin hydrated

This is where ceramides come into play. Add ceramides to your skincare routine to keep your skin’s moisture levels up while using retinol. You can apply the ingredients one after the other or mix them before applying them. Again, it’s best to go easy and work your way up to using the products together multiple times a week.

Can you mix retinol and hyaluronic acid?

You can, yes! Much like with ceramides, you can combine hyaluronic acid with retinoids. For skin, this combination is the perfect balance of surface rejuvenation and rehydration. 

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a substance that is naturally found in your body. It’s primarily present in your skin, where it binds to water to retain moisture. As you age, your natural levels of HA drops. It’s an ingredient you definitely want to include in your skincare routine. As well as maintaining your skin’s hydration levels, HA can help to plump your skin making fine lines and wrinkles appear less visible. 

Is ceramide better than hyaluronic acid?

In essence, they both do similar things. While ceramides actively hydrate your skin, hyaluronic acid traps moisture. If you’re able to incorporate both into your skincare routine, then you’ll be a winner. But if you need to pick between one or the other, it’s going to come down to your main skin concerns.

Pick ceramides if: you struggle to hydrate your skin with regular moisturizers, your skin is sensitive and prone to eczema or rosacea, or if your skin is going through a more reactive phase than usual.

Pick hyaluronic acid if: you’re concerned about fine lines and early signs of aging, you want your skin to appear plumper, or you want to protect your skin from pollution and dry air.

The bottom line

Hopefully, you’re ready to start embracing the ceramide-rich skincare now we’ve broken down what they are! Ceramides for skincare aren’t just a trend though, they’ve been used for years, but they’re an on-trend ingredient that we’re so here for. The fact that they’re super well-tolerated means that nearly anyone can incorporate them into their skincare routine and can enjoy the benefits of nourished, more youthful-looking skin. Learning how to combine ingredients safely is one of the more complex parts of skincare, so now you know how to fit ceramides  in with retinoids and hyaluronic acid, you should be good to go!