What’s up with ceramides?

Hello everyone! This post is inspired by AB over at The Kink and I. She left a comment asking if I would write about ceramides and I was happy to oblige. I first heard about ceramides from Ebony on Longing for Length. She was so excited about this magical class of lipids.

Ceramides are a group of naturally occurring lipids/fatty material found in the hair’s cuticle and in the skin. They behave like an adhesive to keep the cuticle intact. Audrey Davis-Sivasothy gives an excellent description of ceramides.

Think of ceramides as hair glue. Without them, our cuticle layers would simply fall off and unhinge themselves, rather than gently weather and erode, from the constant damage they endure. Damaged hair has typically exhausted its natural supply of ceramides, and is often brittle, dry, and difficult to manage as a result.

JC of The Natural Haven reviewed an article by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science about ceramides. The article describes how different types of processed and unprocessed African-American hair take in ceramides.

The results

What they did:

  1. Treat virgin, lye and no lye relaxed hair with ceramide
  2. Wash the hair in ceramide free shampoo (i.e check how much ceramide binds and does not get washed off)
Hair type Initial amount after treatment with ceramide Post-Shampoo amount of ceramide (i.e what really sticks on)
Natural (untreated) 367 66 (18%)
Lye Relaxed Hair (sodium hydroxide) 970 610 (63%)
No-Lye Relaxed Hair (guanidine) 829 441 (53%)


As one might expect, the amount of ceramides taken up by unprocessed hair is much less than the processed hair. We know that relaxers compromise the integrity of hair strands so folks using relaxers may want to incorporate more ceramides. This doesn’t mean naturalistas are left out. If you use heat or overly style your hair, your may have cuticle damage and ceramides may help you.

There are many oils and products that contain ceramides. You may already have some in your product stash. Check your ingredients 2-oleamido or 1-3 octadecanedio which are synthetic types of ceramides.[1]

Hemp Seed Oil is high in ceramides

Hemp Seed Oil is high in ceramides

Here’s a more comprehensive list of items[1][2][3]:

Oils containing ceramides

  • Safflower oil 78%
  • Grape seed oil 73%
  • Poppyseed oil 70%
  • Sunflower oil 68%
  • Hemp oil 60%
  • Corn oil 59%
  • Wheat germ oil 55%
  • Cottonseed oil 54%
  • Soybean oil 51%
  • Walnut oil 51%
  • Sesame oil 45%
  • Rice bran oil 39%
  • Pistachio oil 32.7%
  • Peanut oil 32%
  • Canola oil 21%
  • Egg yolk 16%
  • Linseed oil 15%
  • Lard 10%
  • Olive oil 10%
  • Palm oil 10%
  • Cocoa butter 3%
  • Macadamia oil 2%
  • Butter 2%
  • Coconut oil 2%

Hair Products Containing Ceramides

  • Aubrey Organics Products
  • BPT Wheat Germ Conditioner
  • Claudie’s Hair Revitalizer Growth Elixir
  • Claudie’s Hair Revitalizer Ends Insurance
  • Crece Pelo Leave-In
  • Creme of Nature (Green Bottle/Old Formula)
  • Garnier Fructis Instant Melting Strength and Repair Masque
  • Hask Cerafix
  • Ion Moisturizing Treatment
  • Jane Carter’s Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner
  • Joico K-Pak Reconstructor
  • Kan Kanechomn Ceramide Deep Conditioning Cream
  • L’Oreal Elvive Nutri-Ceramide Deep Repair Concentrate
  • L’Oreal Serle Expert Liss Starter Ionene G + Ceramide Pre-Smoothing Treatment
  • Lustrasilk Cholesterol
  • Lustrasilk Shea Butter
  • Lustrasilk Mango
  • Matrix Biolage Cera-Repair
  • Matrix Biolage Fortifying conditioner
  • Matrix Biolage Cera-Repair Hydratherapie
  • Miss Key 10 en 1 Conditioner
  • Mizani Therma Smooth
  • Nexxus Aloe Rid
  • Nexxus Botanic Oil Shampoo
  • Nexxus Headdress
  • Nexxus Humectress
  • Nexxus Keraphix
  • Nexxus Therappe
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Stay Strong Shampoo
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Stay Strong Conditioner
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Leave-in Ultimate Strengthener
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Split End Reconstructor
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Cream Hairdress
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Featherlight Hairdress
  • Optimum Care Anti-Breakage Therapy Relaxer System
  • ORS Hair Mayonnaise (New Formula *WGO*)
  • Proclaim Aloe Hot Oil
  • Proclaim Natural 7 Oil
  • Proclaim Natural Olive Oil
  • Redken Extreme Conditioner
  • Redken Extreme Rescue Force
  • Redken Extreme Anti-Snap
  • Redken 07
  • Salerm Wheat Germ Conditioner
  • Satinique Products
  • Sedal Products
  • Shalmi Vadhera Coconut Alma Revitalizing Hair Treatment
  • Shey Butter Oil (Sally’s)
  • Silicon Mix Proteina de Perla (Pearl Protein) Leave-In
  • Silicon Mix Conditioner
  • Silicon Mix Leave-in
  • Skala Ceramide 3 Conditioner (Brazilian)
  • Softsheen Carson Breakthru Anti-Breakage – Protecting Foam
  • Softsheen Carson Breakthru Anti-Breakage – Fortifying Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Taliah Waajid Enhancing Herbal Conditioner
  • TIGI Serious Conditioner
  • Ultra Black Hair Products

Ceramides are pretty great in my opinion. Personally, I use grape seed oil to seal in my moisturizer and I recently purchased hemp oil to pre-poo with.

How do you use ceramides in your hair regimen?

[1] Ceramides for Strong, Healthy, Natural Hair! | Curly Nikki

[2] What Are Ceramides And What Do They Mean For Your Hair | Black Hair Information

[3] How Ceramides Benefit Damaged Natural Hair + What Products Contain Ceramides | Confessions of a Blog Vixen

Image source: P&G Beauty and Grooming