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Ceramides are fats in the outermost layer of skin that play a key role in keeping skin firm and moisturized. Research has shown that ceramides, especially in combination with collagen, can help improve skin hydration, smoothness, and elasticity.*
Results from multiple clinical trials found that subjects taking ceramides experienced significantly increased skin hydration, elasticity, and smoothness. They also had decreased trans epidermal water loss (water that evaporates through the skin), roughness, appearance of wrinkles compared to placebo (1-3).
A 2017 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial using healthy subjects with dry skin and clinical signs of facial photoaging demonstrated that those who orally ingested glucosylceramide supplements induced a strong and highly significant improvement in skin hydration markers and anti-aging effects compared to placebo. Specifically, skin hydration was significantly increased and TEWL was significantly decreased after 15,30 and 60 days of supplementation compared to baseline. Additionally, skin elasticity was increased and roughness and appearance of wrinkles were significantly decreased at 15, 30 and 60 days of supplementation compared to baseline (1).
In a randomized, controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial, participants who experienced dryness and skin chapping in the winter were given either 1.8mg glucosylceramides or placebo for 4 weeks, then “crossed over” to the opposite. Results from the study identified that daily intake of 1.8 mg glucosylceramides significantly decreased TEWL in the forearm compared with before ingestion. Additionally, appearance of brown spots decreased in the glucosylceramide group supporting the inhibitory effects of melanin. Finally chapped skin was significantly improved in the ceramide group whereas chapped skin deteriorated in the placebo group (2).
Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled methodology, researchers studied the effects of a glucosylceramide supplement on whole-body skin barrier function. They found that participants who consumed 1.8mg of ceramides over 12 weeks displayed significantly reduced trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) compared to placebo. Significant differences were specifically present in the upper back, elbow and cheek at weeks 4, 8 and 12, in the neck at weeks 4 and 12, and in the dorsum pedis (front of foot) at week 8 compared to placebo. Of note, the study concluded with a 4-week washout period after the intervention and found that the difference between the ceramide group and placebo on TEWL disappeared suggesting that glucosylceramides should be consumed on a consistent basis (3).
Improving Skin Hydration and Age-related Symptoms by Oral Administration of Wheat Glucosylceramides and Digalactosyl Diglycerides: A Human Clinical Study.
Bizot V, Cestone E, Michelotti E et al., Cosmetics, 2017
Effect of Torula Yeast (Candida utilis)-Derived Glucosylceramide on Skin Dryness and Other Skin Conditions in Winter.
Fukunaga S, Wada S, Sato T et al. , J Nutr Sci Vitaminol, 2018
Dietary use of a granular powder containing rice bran extract improves whole-body skin barrier function.
Hirakawa S, Sato A, Hattori Y et al, Jpn Pharmacol. Ther., 2013