Lipids are the good skin fats under our epidermal layer that keep everything else intact. Skin lipids are naturally occurring and produced by our bodies, but we can help replenish them from outside sources (more on that below). Lipids are important to the general function of our skin barrier, which supports hydration retention and maintains skin’s firmness, elasticity, bounce, texture and skin tone (everything). Our body’s ability to produce these crucial lipids decreases with age though; just like the rest of our bodily functions, they slow their roll over time.
The X factors of the lipid barrier
Aside from aging, other contributing factors that accelerate a weakening of the skin lipid barrier are diet, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, stress, environmental aggressors and pollution.
Layers of skin like a brick wall
The sub-levels of our skin are like a brick wall. Skin lipids are like the cellular mortar that support the greater structure. If they fail or deplete, the visible epidermal layer noticeably sags and loses facial fullness.
Lipid barrier strength matters
When our lipid barriers are strong and supported, they keep moisture from seeping out and environmental aggressors from penetrating the surface. A compromised barrier is more vulnerable and “open to attack.” Ever wonder why it seems like teens can live off a fried food and high sugar diet and it all changes when we hit our late 20s? That’s age combined with varying degrees of lifestyle that decrease our skin’s ability to bounce back.
The Magic Ratio
The three most important lipids that fortify skin’s protective barrier are:
- Ceramides - responsible for skin hydration
- Cholesterol - responsible for skin elasticity, and unrelated to cholesterol in the blood
- Fatty Acids - responsible for lipid balance, abundant in young, healthy skin
The natural makeup of our skin contains these three lipids in a 1:2:1 ratio respectively. We can help our skin replenish these lipids most effectively by applying topicals with not only these lipids, but lipids served up in this ratio. Products with this specific equation are efficacious in the same way that Jojoba oil is successful because it closely mimics our skin’s natural sebum, so the barrier to product entry is less because skin recognizes it as its own.
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