Experts Reveal Why Lipids are a Skincare All-Star
Nicole S. Akers, assistant vice president of education and development, SkinCeuticals in Chicago: Lipids are the skin’s natural fats; lipid production declines as we age, which can result in rough surface texture, tightness and loss of facial fullness. Because they play a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s protective barrier, they are critical components in aiding the skin’s natural repair process and a ‘non-negotiable’ for every antiaging skincare regimen.
Karen Asquith, national director of education, G.M. Collin in Montreal: Essentially, lipids keep the good things in and the bad things out. As a constituent to the skin’s barrier function, lipids minimize transepidermal water loss and the infiltration of impurities into the skin, and are responsible for skin’s suppleness.
Charlene DeHaven, MD, clinical director, iS CLINICAL in Irvine, California: Bio-identical lipids—or lipids that are chemically the same as those found in the skin—can augment the barrier during times of deficiency, including postprocedure, sunburn or other injury. It’s important to keep in mind that although lipids can help lessen water loss, they will not reverse the underlying cause of dehydration.
Dr. DeHaven: The three primary classes of lipids found in the skin barrier are ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids. Ceramides are categorized by their chain lengths (the number of carbon atoms composing the molecule’s length). Long- chain ceramides are particularly important for skin barrier function and maintaining moisture. Synthesis of these ceramides is deficient in skin conditions like eczema and dry skin in general. The dryness universally described by clients with aging and photodamaged skin relates in large part to lower levels of long-chain ceramides.
Asquith: Cholesterol has a water-binding capacity that helps retain moisture in the skin, making it very important for repairing normal barrier function.
Akers: Free fatty acids help maintain lipid balance, which contributes to the skin’s natural repair process. A 3:1:1 ratio of ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids is necessary for normalized skin. Although topical treatment is a powerful method for combating lipid loss, this balancing lipid ratio must be present for it to be effective.
How do lipids work with other ingredients?
Asquith: Product formulators often combine lipids and other actives with both oil and water bases. Because water and oil don’t mix well, an emulsifier must be added to facilitate the combining of ingredients and to ensure product efficacy. The big risk is when consumers play mix-and-match on their own. For example, if an oil is applied to the skin, then followed by a water-based product.
Akers: Lipids are most effective when utilized with other topical treatments, as skin health is best managed when different products are used throughout the day. In the morning, cleanse, tone, apply a topical antioxidant and follow with a lipid loss. In the evening, cleanse, tone, apply a retinol and finish with the same hydrator to help the skin repair itself overnight.
– by Taylor Foley