Ceramide Complex

What is it? Ceramide Complex is a cosmetic ingredient made from a blend of several different ceramides, free fatty acids, and phytosphingosine.
INCI Ceramide NP, ceramide AP, ceramide EOP, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, sodium lauroyl lactylate, carbomer, xanthan gum, water, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.

The order of this ingredient list is at odds with the composition of the product detailed in Making Cosmetic’s SDS, which indicates the ingredients listed in descending order would be:

Water, sodium lauroyl lactylate, Ceramide NP, phenoxyethanol, Ceramide AP, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, xanthan gum, carbomer, ethylhexylglycerin, Ceramide EOP.

Appearance White semi-viscous liquid
Usage rate 1–15%
Texture Smooth, semi-viscous liquid
Scent Nothing much
Approximate Melting Point Liquid at room temperature
pH 5.5–7.0
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Ceramides are naturally occurring fats that comprise over half of the skin’s barrier, helping protect the skin and retain moisture. They are regularly described as the “mortar” to your skin cell “bricks”. Your body does make ceramides, but they can be depleted by everything from age to hot water to UV exposure. Supplementing your body’s natural supply (and encouraging it to produce more ceramides) through topical application of products containing ingredients like Ceramide Complex can help rejuvenate and strengthen the skin.

Ceramide Complex contains a blend of different types of ceramides as well as the ceramide precursor phytosphingosine, which encourages our skin to make more of its own ceramides.

Do you need it? No, but if you suffer from dry/irritated skin it is a downright wonderful active.
Refined or unrefined? Ceramide Complex only exists as a refined product
Strengths Fantastic skin-identical skin care active.
Weaknesses It’s one of the more expensive ingredients we formulate with.
Alternatives & Substitutions There are quite a few different ceramide products on the market with different INCI values; I’d start there, seeing what is available where you live. I’ve also seen “vegetable ceramides” for sale, which could work—the INCI is very different, but the description of the benefits is very similar.

If you can’t get anything vaguely ceramide-esque you could look at other actives that will help strengthen the skin barrier; N-Acetyl Glucosamine, niacinamide (Vitamin B3), and panthenol (Vitamin B5) would be where I’d start, but make sure those ingredients are compatible with the overall formulation and ensure you are meeting any pH requirements.

You could also just replace the ceramides with more distilled water, but that’s a lot like using water where cream is called for in a soup—you’ll lose all the wonderful ceramide-y benefits, but whatever you’re making shouldn’t break.

How to Work with It Include ceramide complex in the cool down phase of your concoctions. It can result in a loss of viscosity.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, ceramide complex should last about 6 months. I store mine in my DIYing fridge.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Once you recognize the INCI values for different ceramides you’ll start to recognize them in the ingredient lists for tons of quite expensive skin care products!
Recommended starter amount 30mL (1fl oz) or less, given the short shelf life and high cost. If you can purchase less that might be a good idea, especially if you don’t already have plans to use a full 30mL (1fl oz) quickly.
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier (both Making Cosmetics & Windy Point carry it).

Some Formulations that Use Ceramide Complex


Posted on

April 16, 2020