Moisturize Your Skin From the Inside Out

By Michael A. Smith, MD

At some point in life, we wake up and notice a few creases that just won’t go away. Over time, these creases become deeper and deeper, until they reach the full-on wrinkle stage. And, of course, this is despite our best efforts to keep our skin moist and healthy.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Dry and wrinkled skin is not an inevitable part of growing older.

According to new research, the best approach may be 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 Ceramides

Water 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 Skin

Here’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 Skin

Ceramides 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.


  1. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010 Jul 14. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Robert Baran, Howard I. Maibach. Textbook of cosmetic dermatology. Third Ed. Taylor & Francis. 2005:177.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Long CC, Marks R. Stratum corneum changes in patients with senile pruritus. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992 Oct;27(4):560-4.
  6. Available at:
  7. 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.


Judy said...

Does anyone else see the contradiction in the last two paragraphs?

As a traditional component of the Asian diet, plant-derived ceramides have long been recognized for their ability to promote healthy, youthful skin.
But then this, 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.

It's at least implied that they are sufficient in the Asian diet and I was hoping for a little more specific information on that.

Life Extension said...

Hi Judy. It's not a contradiction. First, people in Western societies don't eat Asian diets. Two, no matter where you live soils are depleted of nutrients and are producing nutrient poor foods, including a lack of ceramides. But thanks for your comment.

Judy said...

Fair enough. But I'm surely not the only one interested in knowing positive ways to change diet for the better, and hoped for more info on what specifically in the Asian diets was good in this regard.
And, while I certainly agree about the terrible depletion of much of the soil in food production here, I am interested in working towards growing more for myself and building soil as I go.
I guess I would just appreciate a little broader information than this article which seems to be just making the case for needing to purchase your supplement.
Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Judy. I would like to know which plant foods specific in the Asian diet would be a helpful addition to my own; and is it just plant foods or are ceramides obtainable from animal products too? If they are found in skin and present in the cells of the human body, surely eating the flesh of other animals and their skin would provide ceramides? I just Googled and found ceramides linked to cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases and diabetes so I don't think I'll be taking any supplements!

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