By Michael A. Smith, MD
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Dry and wrinkled skin is not an inevitable part of growing older.
Here at Life Extension®, we believe the best approach is to moisturize from the outside in and from the inside out. You see, most of us only apply moisturizing creams on the outside. Although this can help a little to diminish the appearance of surface wrinkles, the real issue is actually much deeper.
Dry Skin Lacks CeramidesWater is in a sense trapped within the layers of our skin with specialized fats called ceramides. These fats act like a water barricade and prevent the loss of moisture from the deeper layers of our skin. In fact, they make up 35%-40% of the binding matrix that maintains moisture balance and protects the skin’s surface.1 The problem is that your body’s production of ceramides declines with age.2
This means that the water deep in the skin escapes, leaving the deeper layers dry and structurally fragile. If the deeper layers of skin lose their integrity and separate, you’ll eventually see this as wrinkles. 3,4,5 Now here’s the cool part: Ceramides aren’t replenished topically — they’re replenished orally.
Ceramides Improve Dry Rough SkinHere’s some of the proof of the powerful moisturizing effects of ceramides. A double-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted at Osaka City University to evaluate the effects of six weeks of treatment with oral ceramides in 33 patients suffering from chronically dry, rough skin.
The participants were given 40 mg per day of a ceramides extract. The study investigators concluded that oral-based ceramides are delivered directly to the deep layers of skin and are a safe and effective way to improve deep skin hydration.6
In another clinical study, a proprietary ceramide — a rich lipid blend made from non-GMO wheat — showed exceptional promise in rehydrating even dry, thin, itchy skin. At the end of this four-week placebo-controlled pilot study, 65% of participants treated with 80 mg per day of a proprietary wheat lipid complex containing ceramides experienced an increase in skin moisture compared with only 45% of the placebo group.7
Don’t Let Winter Ruin Your SkinCeramides are a family of lipid molecules naturally occurring in your skin and they represent a new class of functional lipids. As a traditional component of the Asian diet, plant-derived ceramides have long been recognized for their ability to promote healthy, youthful skin. As a result of their hydrating power, ceramides are becoming very popular in the industry and are being formulated in many new skin care products.
The ceramides that young skin naturally produces to retain its supple appearance are similar to those present in wheat, which is why wheat-derived oils have been used topically for centuries as a natural moisturizer. But you can’t get enough ceramides from topically-applied wheat germ oil to have a long-term impact on your skin’s appearance. And since ceramides don’t appear in sufficient concentrations in your diet, you’re going to have to supplement with them to reap their rewards.
- Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010 Jul 14. [Epub ahead of print]
- Robert Baran, Howard I. Maibach. Textbook of cosmetic dermatology. Third Ed. Taylor & Francis. 2005:177.
- Leveque JL, Corcuff P, de Rigal J, Agache P. In vivo studies of the evolution of physical properties of the human skin with age. Int J Dermatol. 1984 Jun;23(5):322-9.
- Potts RO, Buras EM, Chrisman DA Jr. Changes with age in the moisture content of human skin. J Invest Dermatol. 1984 Jan;82(1):97-100.
- Long CC, Marks R. Stratum corneum changes in patients with senile pruritus. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992 Oct;27(4):560-4.
- Available at: www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/95s0316/95s-0316-rpt0275-04-Udell-vol211.pdf.
- Boisnic S, Branchet M-C. Interet clinique d’un ingredient alimentaire a visee hydratante: Lipowheat™. Etude randomisee en double aveugle versus placebo. J Med Esth et Chir Derm. 2007 Dec;34(136):239-42.
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