In the food world, “good fats” is something we talk about a lot. It’s why we garnish all of our salads (and toasts, and omelets) with avocados and eat lots of salmon when we’re on a diet. Likewise, eating fat is an important element of our diet, and coating our skin with the right kind of fat is key to staying healthy.
As we age, our skin changes. While we spend a lot of time talking about collagen production and the fact that cell turnover slows down as we age, we don’t spend as much time focusing on the hydration of our skin. As the years go by, the skin’s lipid production decreases, so we need to replenish the lipids that are already present in our skin to keep it hydrated and strong. Ceramides are the most common skin lipids found in mainstream moisturizers, but it just so happens that cholesterol (yes, the stuff we’re talking about in food) can also play a big role in keeping skin hydrated and functioning well.
Inside the skin, cholesterol, plays a big role in keeping the skin looking plump and elastic.” As we age, cholesterol in the skin decreases,” says board-certified plastic surgeon Manish Shah, MD, noting that most people begin to see signs of this occurring in their 30s and 40s. Dryness, dullness, and sagging are all indicators of reduced cholesterol, but you can use it topically, which will “stabilize the skin, prepare it for a protective barrier, and seal in moisture for better moisturization.” While it’s effective when used alone, applying cholesterol, ceramides and fatty acids is a lipid “trifecta.” Together, ceramide and cholesterol help to hydrate the skin, smooth the outer layer, optimize the protective barrier of the epidermis, and improve elasticity.”
Since ceramides and cholesterol are produced by your body, your skin can easily recognize them when you use them topically. According to Dr. Shah, replenishing your skin’s reserves of these lipids all at once will hydrate and plump your skin and protect it from chronic dry skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis all the way down to redness and swelling. Here are some cholesterol-rich skincare products to keep your skin barrier strong and resistant to any aggressions.
Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore, $128
Packed with cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids, this moisturizer restores your skin while you sleep, allowing you to wake up with increased moisture and elasticity. It also contains antioxidants, which means you can also use it during the day to protect your skin from the elements.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $17.
A favorite among German doctors, this heavy but never greasy cream uses cholesterol, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid to strengthen your skin’s barrier and seal in moisture. At $17, it’s a true drugstore diamond.
Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream, $19.
Whether you apply it to your face or body, the combination of calming and moisturizing ingredients will have your skin eating this skin food right.
Vichy Nutrilogie 2 Intensive Nourishing Moisturizer, $32.
This moisturizer sinks into your skin and keeps your skin hydrated for 24 hours. Fans love the “baby soft” feeling it leaves behind, without greasy or clogged pores.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair BarriAIR Cream, $30.
In clinical trials, 92% of participants said this moisturizer provides “perfect” hydration throughout the day, and it’s scientifically proven to increase barrier function over time. In addition to ultra-nutritious cholesterol and ceramides, it also contains vitamin E and colloidal oats to keep skin calm.
Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Balm, $18.
For extra dry skin, this cholesterol, ceramides and vitamin C formula is key. You can use it on your face or all over to make itching and flaking a thing of the past.
Speaking of hydrating ingredients, here are three ingredients your dermatologist wants you to double up on for dry skin, and one more that you should avoid at all costs.