Despite our best efforts, we all show signs of aging. Our skin begins to wrinkle and droop and our hair begins to change color. While we are able to dye our hair, it is difficult to reduce the effects of aging on the skin. There are a variety of skin products that claim to reverse these aging effects and some may work for certain people while some may not. Recently, a new player has entered the game of anti-aging therapy and its name is phytoceramides. Manufacturers who sell phytoceramide products claim that they are highly effective at reversing the effects of aging - but do they really work?
What Are Phytoceramides?
Ceramides are long chain fatty acids joined together by a special bond called an amide bond. This particular bond governs how the molecule is able to move about and perform particular biological functions in the cell. Ceramides have been associated with a number of chemical processes in the cell especially those which govern how the cell ages, for example how it matures from a stem cell, when it will divide and when it will program its own death. Humans have trace amounts of these ceramide substances in our tissues. Phytoceramides, on the other hand, come from plants and are able to function in similar ways to human ceramides, but they reduce the effects of cell aging.
In order to extract phytoceramides, plants containing them are mashed up and placed in a mixture that contains methanol and water. The watery substance that remains is spun at very high speeds and separated on a special sheet. This allows the manufacturers to isolate pure phytoceramides.
Ceramides and phytoceramides are fatty molecules that play a role in chemical processes that govern the ageing of a cell. Manufacturers are able to extract phytoceramides from plants using a specialized technique that eventually results in the isolation of pure phytoceramides.
What Causes Aging Skin And Wrinkles?
Skin is a noticeably elastic and firm tissue at birth. This is because the microscopic space between skin cells contains proteins which are able to form net-like formations that allow the skin to maintain its structure. It also contains elastic proteins that cause it to recoil and bounce back when it is moved out of position.
Wrinkles form when these proteins are unable to perform their functions as well as they used to. This is normally due to the protein's structural degradation. A variety of factors can contribute towards this process starting at a person's genetics, and including environmental factors such as sun exposure, dehydration and smoking.
Excessive stretching of the skin such as during pregnancy or sudden weight gain, can also put strain on these proteins. When a person produces less of these proteins, or proteins that have reduced structural integrity, the result is a creased and folded skin that sags under the effects of gravity. Muscle movements can also cause the skin to move and form permanent ridges when it loses its elasticity.
Even if a person avoids all of the environmental factors that contribute to skin aging, they will eventually form wrinkles because DNA shortens and gets damaged over time due to factors beyond control.
Aging is a completely natural process. However, it is sped up by certain environmental factors and has a genetic contribution too, which means the process differs from person to person. In the case of skin, wrinkles are a sign of age. Wrinkles form because the skin loses its elasticity and firmness due to the decreased number and the structural break down of the proteins that are responsible for maintaining these properties of the skin.
How Do Phytoceramides Help?
There are a number of ways in which phytoceramides can help cause skin to look younger. Considering they are signaling molecules that act in a variety of pathways, it is very difficult to isolate the exact steps of how they work but scientific research has determined some of the ways in which phytoceramides reduce skin aging.
- One of the ways is that it increases levels of collagen in the extracellular matrix (the space between cells). Collagen fibers are the proteins responsible for maintaining the skin's firmness.
- Another way is that it improves the hydration of the skin by structurally contributing to the matrix between cells.
- Lastly, phytoceramides are able to enhance the immunity of the skin toward certain infections which may otherwise damage it and cause an accelerated aging process.
There are a number of ways in which phytoceramides can reduce the effects of skin aging. The three main methods which have been suggested by scientific literature are that they stimulate the formation of collagen, improve hydration in the skin and protect it from infections.
Where Can I Get Phytoceramides?
There are a variety of skin products which contain ceramides. The problem with these is that they do not penetrate very deeply into the skin. Fillers which contain ceramides are able to reduce the appearance of wrinkles on the top layer of skin but they do not reach into the deep dermal layers. Thus, wrinkles will return with natural skin cell turnover. For these reasons, the best source of phytoceramides is an oral supplement. These supplements are quite safe to take because they don't produce any major side effects. The only people who are unable to take common phytoceramides are those who are allergic to wheat. However, there are rice-based or sweet potato-based phytoceramide supplements for these individuals.
It is important to purchase phytoceramide supplements from a reputable and trustworthy manufacturer for a truly effective product. There are a number of reviews for phytoceramide supplements online which can help a person to decide which manufacturers are superior.
The results take about 4 weeks to show, so patience is a necessary virtue when using phytoceramides.