Background It is generally acknowledged that well-formulated moisturizing skin care products can restore disturbed barrier function that can be assessed by transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements. When ceramides and/or other barrier lipids are incorporated, it is, however, not always clearly demonstrated which ingredients of the formulation exert the beneficial effects.
Objectives In this study the effects of topically applied ceramide-containing mixtures on the barrier repair of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)- and acetone-induced skin damage have been studied in human volunteers. TEWL and stratum corneum hydration measurements were carried out. The emulsions applied contained either a mixture of two types of ceramides, CerIII and CerIIIB (emulsion 1) or a complete mixture of ceramides III, IIIB and VI together with phytosphingosine, cholesterol and the free fatty acid linoleic acid (emulsion 2).
Results After SLS damage, it was observed that barrier recovery was significantly accelerated by topical application (14 days, 2 ×/d) of emulsion 2 compared with the results obtained with emulsion 1. Corneometrical results were not relevant due to the occurrence of scaly fissured skin, failing to provide a good skin/probe contact. Although no effect on TEWL could be observed, the improvement of skin hydration after acetone treatment and a single application of the emulsions, was significantly more positive for emulsion 2 than for emulsion 1.
Conclusions The investigative methods used in this study show that ceramides combined with other skin lipids can improve barrier repair after damage.