So what are ceramides and do you need them in your regimen?
Ceramides are one of 3 naturally occurring lipids aka fatty material found in the cuticle. Not to be confused with Sebum which is found on the surface of the cuticle, ceramides’ function in the cuticle is to act as a binder to keep the cuticle layer in place. So why are they important in hair care I hear you ask.
Well as we know the cuticle is the hair strand’s defence layer which is why you hear about cold water or acv rinses to close the cuticles after a wash. Closed cuticles give your hair that shine/sheen that practically screams ‘healthy hair’ hence closing the door to potential damage to the vulnerable cortex inside. The cuticle layer is also the thinnest layer of our hair and can be damaged or removed by just vigorous combing or shampooing, typical! With the cuticle layer gone, the cortex is exposed and breakage inevitable. In come ceramides to save the day, they create a protective barrier around the hair to hold in moisture and protein while also guarding the hair from chemical damage, heat damage and UV rays as such ‘repairing’ the cuticle layer.
Now we all know the trilogy of healthy hair is moisture, elasticity and strength, ceramides fit quite snugly into the strength category. They are not proteins but studies show that hair which has been treated with ceramide containing conditioners showed an increase in tensile strength which is fabulous news for the protein sensitive among us. Ceramides give all the benefits of protein treatments without any of the downsides!
We now have companies with patented synthetic ceramides in their products, I seem to remember a L’oreal product with ‘Ceramide Cement’ in an advert recently so clearly ceramides are here to stay.
Before you run out of the house to load up on ceramide containing products, you should know that ceramide ‘take up’ that is to say that ceramides that bind to the hair and are not washed off mostly happened in lye processed hair (63%), a bit less in No-lye processed hair (53%) and much less in natural untreated hair (18%). It is no secret that relaxing strips most of the natural hair oils so ceramides in a relaxed hair regimen would seem vital. I would also imagine that those of us who are natural but straighten our hair regularly would certainly benefit from ceramides too.
As mentioned before, there are both naturally occurring ceramides and synthetic ones. There isn’t much evidence to show any difference better or worse between the natural or the synthetic ones but it may be worth considering that commercial products with ceramides in them have been specially formulated to provide these lipids in ample amounts to ensure maximum up take.
Rather than create my own list, From Short To Long Blog has already provided a handy list with natural and commercial products containing ceramides:
OILS CONTAINING CERAMIDES:
Barley Malt Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Wheat Germ Oil
Grape seed oil
Hot 6 Oil
PRODUCTS CONTAINING CERAMIDES:
Aubrey Organics Products
BPT Wheat Germ Conditioner
Claudie’s Hair Revitalizer Growth Elixir
Claudie’s Hair Revitalizer Ends Insurance
Crece Pelo Leave-In
Creme of Nature (Green Bottle/Old Formula)
Garnier Fructis Instant Melting Strength and Repair Masque
Ion Moisturizing Treatment
Jane Carter’s Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner
Joico K-Pak Reconstructor
Kan Kanechomn Ceramide Deep Conditioning Cream
L’Oreal Elvive Nutri-Ceramide Deep Repair Concentrate
L’Oreal Serle Expert Liss Starter Ionene G + Ceramide Pre-Smoothing Treatment
Lustrasilk Shea Butter
Matrix Biolage Cera-Repair
Matrix Biolage Fortifying conditioner
Matrix Biolage Cera-Repair Hydratherapie
Miss Key 10 en 1 Conditioner
Mizani Therma Smooth
Nexxus Aloe Rid
Nexxus Botanic Oil Shampoo
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Stay Strong Shampoo
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Stay Strong Conditioner
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Leave-in Ultimate Strengthener
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Split End Reconstructor
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Cream Hairdress
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Featherlight Hairdress
ORS Hair Mayonaise (New Formula *WGO*)
Proclaim Aloe Hot Oil
Proclaim Natural 7 Oil
Proclaim Natural Olive Oil
Redken Extreme Conditioner
Redken Extreme Rescue Force
Redken Extreme Anti-Snap
Salerm Wheat Germ Conditioner
Shalmi Vadhera Coconut Alma Revitalizing Hair Treatment
Shey Butter Oil (Sally’s)
Silicon Mix Proteina de Perla (Pearl Protein) Leave-In
Silicon Mix Conditioner
Silicon Mix Leave-in
Skala Ceramide 3 Conditioner (Brazilian)
Softsheen Carson Breakthru Anti-Breakage – Protecting Foam
Softsheen Carson Breakthru Anti-Breakage – Fortifying Moisturizing Shampoo
Taliah Waajid Enhancing Herbal Conditioner
TIGI Serious Conditioner
Ultra Black Hair Products
RELAXERS CONTAINING CERAMIDES:
Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Relaxer System
Personally I am partial to standard sunflower oil that I get in the grocery isle at the supermarket (too many omega 6′s to actually cook with but great for my hair!) and I also favour L’oreal’s Elvive Damage Care Repairing Conditioner with ceramide cement. Try adding some ceramides into your regimen and spot the difference in breakage or lack thereof.