Phytoceramides: A Review of New Plant-Based Anti-Aging Ceramides

Hi, thanks for checking out my series of articles focused on the new anti-aging tablets on the scene, phytoceramides. In my role as Chief Product Analyst, I’ve had the opportunity to review tens, if not hundreds of health and beauty products, some of which are good, some less exciting, and some amazing. This time I’m super-excited about these new tablets which help restore our youthful looks from the inside out.

In this extended review of phytoceramides, I’m addressing the questions on everyone’s lips at the moment, namely:

  • What are phytoceramides?
  • How do phytoceramides help us look younger?
  • Do phytoceramides genuinely help us slow and reverse the aging process?
  • Why would I take phytoceramide tablets when I have ceramides in my beauty products?
  • Are phytoceramides safe to take?
  • Is there anyone that can’t use phytoceramides?
  • What do I look for if I want to buy phytoceramides myself?

So just what are phytoceramides?

You’d be forgiven for not knowing too much about these tablets, as they’ve only recently been launched and cleared by the FDA. Ceramides have been used extensively for many years but usually come from animal sources, whereas phytoceramides are extracted exclusively from sweet potato, wheat or rice.

Ceramides are components that penetrate each of the four levels of our skin, from the epidermis or top layer, right down to the basal layer. We’ve used them for decades in our skin care and hair products as they are known for their abilities to look in moisture and keep our skin looking younger, healthier and plumper. By looking in moisture, wrinkles are less pronounced and the skin looks rejuvenated, thus we look younger!

With phytoceramides, we’re taking a tablet that targets skin care and locks in water from the inside out, plus we have the added advantage that we’re not consuming animal products.

How do phytoceramides work?

There are several ways in which phytoceramides are known to encourage and maintain healthier, younger-looking skin:

  • Phytoceramides contain lipids that are the same as those found naturally in our skin; they mimic their actions to plump out the skin
  • Phytoceramides penetrate each of the four layers of our skin (known as dermal layers)
  • Phytoceramides stimulate the production of collagen, which plumps the skin and increases elasticity
  • Phytoceramides encourage a protective barrier against infections and inflammation, helping with problems such as dry skin, sun damage and patches
  • Phytoceramides keep our skin hydrated, retaining moisture and helping stave off wrinkles
  • Phytoceramides slow the aging process and can even reverse existing signs of aging such as crow’s feet, from the inside out

Do phytoceramides genuinely help us slow and reverse the aging process?

There are a LOT of claims out there about various anti-aging products, I mean it’s an industry worth nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars! We’re obsessed with looking younger than our years, which is why many of us take to extreme procedures to maintain our looks.

But in a market so catered to making us feel inferior, old and ugly by bombarding us with pictures of stunning, flawless and young models, it’s inevitable that some products are pushed on us that are not all that they claim.

I reviewed the clinical research behind the claims for phytoceramides, you can read my full analysis here, but in summary, here is what I found:

  • There are unfortunately just four studies that I could find, focused on phytoceramides and ceramides for skin health and anti-aging
  • The first, a study on 51 women, stated categorically that when prescribed a wheat-based phytoceramide, “skin hydration was significantly increased”, skin dryness was reduced and skin hydration was improved
  • The second, a study looking at the causes of ‘atopic’ dry skin, concluded that “an insufficiency of ceramides in the stratum corneum is an etiologic factor in atopic dry skin”
  • The third, by Jung et al in 2011, linked phytoceramides to improvements in brain function and even concluded that they could help treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s
  • The fourth and final, by Sekiya et al also in 2011, discovered that certain phytoceramides could boost our natural immunity to viral infections

Why would I take phytoceramide tablets when I have ceramides in my beauty products?

This is one question that I get asked a lot; if I already have ceramides in my products, why should I take a tablet? It’s a valid question, but I believe there is a strong argument for the supplement rather than a cream.

My opinion, having reviewed all of the research and opinion on phytoceramides, is that when you apply a cream, it sinks in to the top layer of skin and perhaps the second layer. When we use fillers, they fill the wrinkles in on the top layer but these mask wrinkles rather than treat them at the source. When you take a tablet, they work in the body and cause internal improvements that penetrate outward, so that the root cause of wrinkles and signs of aging are reversed and improved inside-out.

Furthermore, taking a tablet is far less hassle than a daily half-hour routine of expensive skin creams, scrubs, rubs, massages and more! I don’t know about you but my day is already short enough for all the things I have to do, so anything that makes my day easier and gives me the same or better results is definitely worth considering!

Are phytoceramides safe to take?

Many ceramides are derived from bovine sources, so it’s understandable that many of us would prefer to switch to plant-based versions. And, as phytoceramides are naturally occurring, there are very few – if any – side effects.

That said, if you’re allergic to wheat or have an intolerance, you could suffer the same issues if you take the wheat-based phytoceramides. Stick to the rice or sweet potato versions if you have any problem with wheat.

Finally, I have to maintain my professional integrity and err on the side of caution by saying that, until further research is done, it’s advisable that anyone trying to conceive, pregnant or nursing avoid this or ANY supplement not recommended by your physician. Not enough is known about how these supplements affect foetal growth or babies, so it’s always advisable to avoid them if you are TTC, nursing or currently pregnant.

How quickly will I see anti-aging results?

The general consensus on the Dr Oz show and amongst the general public is that results will start to show in around 4 weeks, so stick with it. Whereas cosmetics with plumpers or fillers will show immediately, these are just what they say they are – cosmetic. If it’s too much of a step for you to stop using the creams and rely on the supplements, why not carry on with both until you’re seeing the results of the tablets? I know I couldn’t live without my skin primer!!

Is there anyone that can’t use phytoceramides?

As I mentioned above, I would just avoid if it you’re pregnant, nursing or TTC, and avoid the wheat-based versions if you’re a coeliac or have any kind of negative reaction to wheat.

What do I look for if I want to buy phytoceramides myself?

I’ve written an article specifically focused on what to look for in your phytoceramides as well as dosage information. Whilst there is no specific guidelines on how much to take, nor any directions such as ‘take it on an empty stomach’, the general consensus is that your supplement needs to contain around 350mg of phytoceramides.

Already know you want to try phytoceramides but don’t have the time to do the research?

Stay Safe When Shopping for Phytoceramides
My good friend Katherine, over at Nutritional Health News, put together an important 3-step checklist to follow when buying Phytoceramides online. In the guide, she tests the 14 most popular brands and compares the top 3 brands side-by-side. I highly recommend checking out her website.

However, if you have the time to research your supplement, or you already have a specific supplement or store in mind, here is a short checklist that you can refer to, in order to ensure you’re getting the best phytoceramide supplement for anti-aging:

  • Choose a supplement containing at least 350mg phytoceramides
  • Look for the words ‘plant-derived phytoceramides’ on the pack
  • Choose phytoceramides derived from rice or sweet potatoes if you have a wheat allergy or intolerance
  • Always choose supplements that are produced in an FDA-approved laboratory where you can
  • Supplement with a Vitamin C tablet or serum if you can, for even better anti-aging effects
  • Choose organic or pure versions with no fillers or artificial ingredients
  • Always buy from a vendor or online store you trust
  • Check reviews from other purchasers before you buy and look for ‘Amazon verified purchase’ on the reviews if you’re choosing a supplement from Amazon
  • Avoid ‘free’ trials that just ask you to pay the shipping, often you get locked into an auto-shipping process that it can be difficult or sometimes impossible to cancel

What else can I do to boost my anti-aging results?

As well as taking a Vitamin C supplement and Vitamin B complex, which I’ve always found helps my skin, nails, and hair, you can also combine your phytoceramide supplements with a weekly facial scrub and at drinking least 2 liters of water per day. Obviously we have all seen how smoking, caffeine, recreational drugs and alcohol can adversely affect our looks, so clean living and phytoceramides are the only way to look young!

What are people saying about phytoceramides?

When I research a product, I like to look at a range of sources including medical forums, chat rooms, social media and online stores, to get a rounded view of the market opinion. I must say that in this case, when researching phytoceramides, it was pretty quiet out there. I put these down to phytoceramides being a new thing, combined with a general fatigue perhaps of the ‘miracles’ that Dr Oz seems to be touting every week. Whatever the reason, there’s just not much chatter out there about phytoceramides…yet! When people experience the benefits, I fully expect this to change quickly.

On social media, there are a few video reviews on YouTube but it’s mainly sales-focused for companies selling skincare products. And whilst a few YouTube reviewers feel that their results weren’t dramatic, the comments from viewers begged to differ, claiming that they can see far more results than the reviewers perhaps felt!

On Amazon, products are rated an average 3.9 out of 5, and we’re talking over 1000 reviews here on the first page alone. The same goes for other online stores, with products rated extremely highly. It’s strange that products seem to be so popular yet the market is not fully aware of them yet, perhaps people are trying to keep the secrets to themselves! Or perhaps it’s because not enough research has been done yet on phytoceramides to truly hit the headlines. Time will tell!

In my full ‘review of phytoceramide reviews‘ article, I note that there is a LOT of spam and marketing around this product. Luckily, you can spot these phoney reviews a mile away – avoid anything that shouts ‘miracle’ and is on completely the wrong forum…my favorite example is a random post about miracle phytoceramides on a Wutang Clan chat forum!!

I’ve detailed the most common comments I’ve seen below, ranging from the marginally unimpressed to the seriously happy:

  • “Very pleased! My face has more moisture and my wrinkles look smoother.”
  • “Thought I’d try these phytoceramides [for eczema]…my skin is way less dry and itchy.”
  • “I’ve been getting compliments about my “glowing” skin lately, which is really cool. I could swear my hair is shinier and my nails are stronger.”
  • “I have been taking it for about a week now [for dermatitis]. It has all completely cleared up using this brand. I am truly happy with the results.”
  • “These pills have been a lifesaver. I have been using them for about 7 months now and the results are incredible.”
  • “My skin has never looked or felt better.”
  • “Skip the pricey moisturizers and try this.”
  • “Good natural fix.”
  • “The pills did produce an improvement but it was only minimal improvement.”
  • “I have seen no difference in my skin after taking this product.”

A mixed bunch as you can see, however my opinion is that in general the comments were far more positive than negative or neutral.

What’s good about phytoceramides?

In my opinion, there are a whole host of great things about phytoceramides, and very few negatives. I’ve summarized them for you, so that you can decide for yourself at a glance:

  • Inexpensive, especially compared to pricey skin creams
  • Plant-based so suitable for those avoiding animal products
  • Target skin problems and signs of aging from the inside-out
  • Fast, long-lasting results in around four weeks
  • Simplify your beauty regime
  • Free up your time by cutting down your beauty processes
  • Very good user reviews and product ratings
  • Encouraging research on 51 women
  • Positive side effects such as hair health and reducing skin dryness
  • Ceramides used for decades
  • Possible help for neurodegenerative diseases
  • Could help us fight off infection
  • FDA cleared
  • All natural

Anything not so good?

  • Not enough rigorous clinical research to substantiate claims
  • Inferior products pop up because of the ‘Dr Oz’ effect
  • Some users therefore don’t see the positive results they’d hoped for
  • Wheat-based versions may aggravate coeliacs or those with adverse reactions to wheat
  • Lots of spam-my, phoney marketing online

My opinion on phytoceramides

I’m genuinely delighted that phytoceramides have come out in tablet form as they are a natural source of ceramides, cut down the time required for healthier, younger-looking skin, are far cheaper than many face creams and other beauty products, and seem to have a wealth of other potential health benefits. I’m surprised that more people are not aware of the supplement, but I don’t expect this to last long! I’d love to hear your views, if you’re a phytoceramides convert or just interested in trying them. Best of luck!

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