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Dangers des céramides sur la peau.

Topical Application: How Dangerous Are Ceramides?

Rosacea, atopic dermatitis, itching, contact dermatitis, acne.... Using ceramides as key ingredients in topical formulations to specifically improve certain problems is a common practice. But despite these properties, what about the potential toxicity of applied ceramides?

Ceramides: What Role Do They Play in Cosmetic Formulations?

Ceramides are a family of naturally occurring lipids in the skin, characterized by the combination of a hydroxylated or non-hydroxylated (saturated or monounsaturated) fatty acid with a sphingoid base via an amide bond. They account for 50% of the skin's composition.

Ceramides play a key role in the barrier function of the epidermis, where they are an essential component of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. The role of ceramides is therefore to protect the skin from external influences and prevent dehydration. Studies have even shown that a decrease in the ceramide level in the intercellular lipid lamellae of the stratum corneum is associated with dry skin.

With age and due to sun damage, among other factors, ceramide levels decrease, which is associated with a damaged skin barrier, fine lines, dry and rough skin, redness, a sallow complexion as well as moisture loss. Therefore, it is necessary to compensate for this deficiency with care products enriched with ceramides of natural or synthetic origin to strengthen the protective barrier of the epidermis.

Ceramides, a Dangerous Active Ingredient?

To date, ceramides are not classified as restricted ingredients in cosmetics in the United States (FDA), Canada (Health Canada), European Union member countries (EC) and South Korea (KFDA). In fact, the use of ceramides is not subject to any restrictions and is considered safe at current use practices and concentrations in cosmetics.

No skin reactions or systemic effects have been observed in repeated dose epicutaneous tests in animals or humans. In addition, while ceramides are lipophilic and can be absorbed by the skin, studies have shown that ceramides remain in the stratum corneum and not enter more deeply.

Should precautions be taken when using ceramides?

  • Origin: If ceramides are derived from the central nervous system of cattle (brain, spinal cord), they could pose a risk for transmission of infectious agents such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA and the European Union prohibit the use of ingredients derived from these in cosmetics.

  • Tolerance: Before incorporating a new ceramide-based skin care product into your routine, we recommend that you perform a tolerance test. To do this, apply a small amount of product to the crook of your elbow, behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist. If you don't notice any adverse reactions within the next 24 hours, you can use the skincare.


  • HELDRETH B. & al. Safety assessment of ceramides as used in cosmetics. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2015).

  • LEE B-M. & al. Safety and risk assessment of ceramide 3 in cosmetic products. Food and Chemical Toxicology (2015).


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