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Cholesterol, Ceramides, and Skin-Identical Ingredients

Cholesterol, Ceramides, and Skin Identical Ingredients

Let’s face it! Many of us go to great lengths to halt signs of ageing.

From injections and surgeries to napalming our face with as many ingredients as we can.

But if you want to keep your skin truly healthy, what you need to do is replenish the ingredients found naturally in your skin.

Yet sadly, in a cruel twist of fate, we begin to run out of these crucial ingredients as we age.

Here at the Naked Chemist, we believe that our skin is a living organism and will respond to whatever you feed it; this we achieve by including skin-identical ingredients like ceramides in our formulas, which mimic the composition of your skin.

These ingredients seamlessly integrate to maintain your barrier function and support collagen production – the fibres found deep in the dermal layer that sustains the structure of your skin.

By working with the physiology of the skin, these ingredients work in harmony with your skin’s natural ability to repair and regenerate itself.

So join us as we take a closer look at the ingredients that make up the components of your skin.

The skin’s layers

To determine the ideal ingredients to include in our range to help nourish the skin, we first needed to consider the natural constituents of the skin’s layers to mimic that same composition.

The epidermis
The outermost layer of your skin, the epidermis, is composed of many keratinocyte cells that combine with several lipids (fats) – including ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids – which serve as a protective barrier.

Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF)
A complex mixture of water-soluble compounds such as amino acids, organic acids, urea, and inorganic ions make up our natural moisturising factor. The major components of the NMF include sodium lactate, urea, and pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (also known as sodium PCA).

So it makes sense to include products in your routine that contain these important ingredients. This is something we achieved with our anti-ageing cream, which has nine ingredients found naturally in your skin that deplete with age.

The Dermis:
The layer comprises collagen, elastin, and ground substances composed mainly of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin. The sebaceous glands within these skin layers secrete sebum onto the skin, forming the membrane covering your skin.

The Composition of Sebum
This is approximately 45% triglycerides, 25% wax esters, 12% squalene, 10% fatty acids and 4% cholesterol. In comparison, the composition of the epidermis is 30-35% fatty acids (with the majority being oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid and stearic acid), 30-35% ceramides 30-35% cholesterol. Phosphatidylcholine is the major constituent of all cell membranes, so it is another essential lipid found in skin cells.

Skin identical ingredients are used in a number of our products, including Bio lipid complex to mimic those found in your skin, including cholesterol, ceramides 1, ceramide 2, ceramide 3, phosphatidylcholine, hyaluronic acid, glycerol, urea, and squalane which has a chemical composition close to the sebum of the skin including wax esters and fatty acids.

Our favourite ingredients

Picture the tiles in a shower; those are your skin cells. Now imagine the grout that holds them together. That’s ceramides. “If there isn’t enough grout between the tiles, then water begins to leak. Ceramides “seal the cracks between skin-cell tiles.” They keep your cells arranged into a matrix and prevent all the hydration from leaking out.

Interestingly your skin is more than half fat, and ceramides are found in your skin at about 50% by mass and play an important role in the integrity of your skin by serving as the primary storage area for linoleic acid. These lipids are abundant in the skin’s tissue, where they have a binding role in the lipid layers of the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the skin. The structural function helps maintain the barrier function and retain water content, keeping your skin soft, supple and moist.

Ceramides decrease as we age; clinical studies have found that we can lose so much by the time we reach the age of 50 that the upper layers of our skin can become 30% thinner. Reduced ceramide levels can contribute to dryness, sensitivity and skin inflammation. Fortify barrier repair cream is an important treatment for the skin that replenishes missing ingredients that can compromise the barrier function.

Cholesterol is a natural component of the skin’s stratum corneum, often referred to as the skin’s natural barrier. If ceramides are grout, think of cholesterol as the magnet that bond the skin cells together to create a barrier within the skin’s surface, creating a protective layer that plumps the skin and locks in moisture. A compromised barrier lets in the baddies, but a healthy barrier protects your skin and is especially useful for dry skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and even acne.

Cholesterol represents about 25 per cent of your skins lipid layer. It also works to strengthen the outer structure of your skin and maintain correct barrier function by retaining moisture levels and regulating cell activity.

Copper Peptide – INCI CopperTripeptide-1 GHK–Cu:
As we age, structural proteins within the skin naturally decrease in quantity. Copper peptides promote the production of glycosaminoglycans, which are essential in maintaining plump, properly hydrated levels in your skin.

Clinical research has found that copper peptide GHK-Cu can support collagen synthesis through rebuilding your skin’s structural matrix, where it provides extremely effective cellular regeneration properties. They also and also remove damaged collagen and elastin from your skin and stimulate the healing of micro-wounds, so it is ideal for anyone with compromised skin. For this reason, it is included in the DNA age delay formula.

Co-Enzyme Q10 – INCI Ubiquinone:
Co-enzyme Q10 is a molecule found naturally in human skin, animals, and plants called “ubiquitous quinone”.  A crucial anti-ageing compound that is important for healthy skin. It is a potent antioxidant that neutralises free radicals, improving the signs of ageing. Topical application restores mitochondrial activity, increasing energy production as ATP, and it also reduces the power required to make new collagen.

Pro-Vitamin B5 – INCI Panthenol:
Panthenol is widely known for its role in helping to maintain skin health; it is converted in the skin into Pantothenic Acid, a component necessary for cellular metabolism. Clinical studies provide experimental evidence of the beneficial effects of topically-applied panthenol; these include enhancing skin barrier repair and reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), making it a very effective moisturiser. D-Panthenol is also used in wound management; it stimulates skin regeneration via fibroblast proliferation, promoting tissue healing,

Hyaluronic Acid – INCI Sodium Hyaluronate:
This is a naturally occurring component of the skin that holds water and helps keep it hydrated and plump, which contributes significantly to cellular activities essential to the health of your skin. Hyaluronic acid can help barrier function by stabilising the spaces between the cells, where it acts as a moisture magnet; water attaches to the molecule to retain water reservoirs in the tissue of the skin, to plump and firm your skin to reduce the visibility of expression lines and improve skin elasticity. Hyaluronic is also unique because it improves wound healing; therefore, it is ideal as a topical treatment to heal the skin after invasive barrier disrupting treatments such as micro-needling.

Phospholipids – INCI Lecithin:
Phospholipids are naturally occurring in your skin, make up the wall of cellular membranes. They protect the dermal layer from external stressors, including wind, sun and chemicals, by locking in moisture.

Lecithin promotes the deep absorption of biologically active substances into your skin, working as an emollient, emulsifier, and penetration enhancer. Lecithin is a natural substance made of phosphatidylcholine – an essential component of cell membranes that keeps your cells intact and functional. Rich in stearic, palmitic, and oleic fatty acids, it creates a barrier that effectively seals moisture. In an aqueous solution, the phospholipids form liposomes, spherical structures that encase other compounds and deliver them through the skin barrier. Lecithin fats are both hydrophilic and lipophilic, attracting fatty acids and water-based substances.

Vitamin C – INCI Ethyl Ascorbic Acid:
Present in the stratum corneum, it is essential for stimulating collagen synthesis and the formation of barrier lipids; it has the ability to penetrate your skin beyond the stratum corneum to do its magic. And very few ingredients offer any penetration beyond the stratum corneum, your outer layer of skin-like.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant proven in studies to stimulate collagen formation, lighten skin, treat hyperpigmentation, and heal wounds, as well as being a potent anti-inflammatory. Applying a product with a concentration of 5% over 6 months have been shown to improve the appearance of skin with photodamage and reduce sunburn cell formation and reddening; this is why we use a concentration of 10% in C+. It can also influence the synthesis of specific ceramides, which can improve the water-retaining properties.

Stability and absorption of L-Ascorbic Acid can be a concern; for this reason, we use ethyl ascorbic acid in our C+ complex, which is produced by modifying Ascorbic acid which helps to enhance it is transported through the skin.

NAG – INCI N-Acetyl Glucosamine:
An important skincare ingredient that is not well known but has a real affinity with the skin. N-acetyl glucosamine reduces localised pigmentation of the skin and facilitates a smoother skin tone. The Combination of niacinamide and glucosamine delivers an enhanced efficiency compared to skincare products that include only one of the two active ingredients. Helping to inhibit the transfer of melanin-containing melanosomes to the outer layers of skin,  preventing the formation of dark discolouration and age spots.

It also increases your skin’s hydration by increasing the production of hyaluronic acid and production and elasticity, enhancing the speed of wound healing, which is not bad for an ingredient that can be used at 4%.

A key enzyme in melanin biosynthesis is tyrosinase, initially produced in the cell as an inactive pro-enzyme, which is then glycosylated to the active form. While n-acetyl glucosamine (a sugar itself) is not a direct inhibitor of tyrosinase, it does inhibit the activation of the enzyme, resulting in a decrease in melanin.

Sodium PCA – INCI Sodium Pyroglutamate:
This is another skin-identical ingredient that your body naturally produces; it is one of the components that help to slow down water loss. Known as a potent humectant, it binds water molecules to the skin, helping keep your skin plump and moist. Clinical trials have shown that Sodium PCA has barrier protecting properties, helping to repair impaired skin.

Vitamin B3 – INCI Niacinamide:
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 (niacin) that your body and skin require for good health. Vitamin B3 plays a vital role in helping your body’s cells carry out important chemical reactions. Since it’s water-soluble, your body doesn’t store this vitamin, which is why you need to apply it topically.

Niacinamide is a smart multitasking ingredient that is the anti-ageing go-to ingredient helping improve collagen target lines and wrinkles and oxidative stress on your skin. It is also the go-to treatment for treating dark spots on your skin; this it does by reducing hyper-pigmentation by inhibiting melanosome transfer through dendrites.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) can also help to reduce redness, irritation and dryness.  It is extremely balancing as it regulates oil production and reduces pore size, making it a perfect ingredient for acne-prone skin.  Niacinamide is known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and oxidative stress on the skin.

Niacinamide reduces hyper-pigmentation, improves the production of collagen and hyaluronan by up to 40 per cent, and increases skin elasticity. N-acetyl glucosamine reduces localized pigmentation of the skin and facilitates a smoother skin tone.

Vitamin E – INCI Tocopherol:
Considered the primary lipid-soluble antioxidant utilised by skin present in the lipophilic portion of the cell membrane. Although alpha-D-tocopherol is the most widespread vitamin E, α-tocopherol is one of four types of tocopherol and the most abundant form of vitamin E found in the skin. α and γ forms are excreted in sebum and act as a barrier for your skin.

Levels of tocopherol decrease with age due to trauma and sun exposure. Applied topically, it acts as reliable antioxidant protection against environmental damage, serving as a scavenger for free radicals that are destructive to the cell membrane; by inhibiting matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that degrade collagen in the dermis protects existing collagen and increases the production of new collagen.

Vitamin A – INCI Retinol:
The term “retinoids” refers to vitamin A and the various molecules derived from vitamin A, which itself is also known as retinol (ROL). ROL is converted to retinaldehyde (RAL) and then to retinoic acid (RA) in the skin. RA modulates gene expression and influences cellular processes in both the epidermis and dermis, thereby exerting potent effects on skin health.

A smart, multifaceted ingredient that uniquely penetrates skin’s surface to promote and support collagen synthesis and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol is also extremely balancing, helping to keep pores clean and remove excess oil.


The Naked chemist skincare range focuses on skin-identical ingredients that are completely compatible with your skin’s composition.

These include natural moisturising factors such as hyaluronic acid, urea and glycerin and ingredients that also naturally mimic the lipids within your skin, like squalane, essential fatty acids, such as ceramides, cholesterol, phospholipids, triglycerides and sterols that integrate naturally with your skin’s barrier, allowing for penetration without disruption.

All of these strengthen your skin’s barrier function, helping to prevent inflammation and breakouts, which can lead to chronic inflammation, which significantly ages your skin and can slow down repair and renewal processes.

So it is important to incorporate these into your routine to preserve your skin’s youthfulness, stabilising and maintaining the natural intercellular skin matrix. Hence, it is less prone to problems that are vital for healthy skin.


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