Naturally occurring in sebum (skin's oil), these fats hold together the cells of the epidermis to reinforce the skin's protective barrier. Ceramides are lipids (fats) that represent about 50% of the skin's outer structure, which is in place to provide a barrier between you and the environment. Ceramides are used in skincare to help the skin to retain water, and to improve the barrier function of the skin. The healthy barrier function ceramides create also minimizes visible fine lines and keeps the skin supple and firm. Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules. A ceramide is composed of sphingosine and a fatty acid. Ceramides are found in high concentrations within the cell membrane of eukaryotic cells, since they are component lipids that make up sphingomyelin, one of the major lipids in the lipid bilayer. Contrary to previous assumptions that ceramides and other sphingolipids found in cell membrane were purely supporting structural elements, ceramide can participate in a variety of cellular signaling: examples include regulating differentiation, proliferation, and programmed cell death (PCD) of cells.
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