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When we talk about healthy hair, most of us tend to focus on perfecting the moisture/protein balance. Is my hair too dry? Then I need to increase moisture levels. Have I been experiencing breakage? If so, then it’s time for a protein treatment. There’s often little focus on the third aspect of what I like to call the trinity of healthy hair. Ceramides.
Ceramides are lipids (oil) that naturally occur in the strand. Their main purpose is to act like the glue that helps the cuticle layer lay flat and remain intact. Think of your cuticle layers as shingles on a roof, ceramides would be the bond that keep the shingles firmly in place. A healthy strand of hair needs a tightly packed cuticle layer in order to maintain its strength, elasticity, and shine. Without it, your hair becomes vulnerable to all kinds of unwanted damage.
Although ceramides occur naturally in the healthy strand, we impact normal levels when we undergo a chemical process, use excessive heat or even by the simple act of combing or washing the hair. In fact, there was a study done where the hair strand was observed on test subjects prior to, and after, shampooing. Believe it or not, the cuticle layer is chipped away each time we wash and comb our hair. This type of cuticle damage can be minimized by by making sure your ceramide levels are in check. So let’s talk about how we can do just that.
One of the first things you can do is read the back of your product label to see if you have any ceramide containing products in your arsenal. If the ingredient list doesn’t explicitly say “ceramide” on the label, check for 2-oleamido or 1-3 octadecanedio. These are both synthetic replicas of our naturally occurring ceramides. One way to boost levels of our own ceramide production is to massage our scalp daily with eucalyptus oil. Another study done asked women to massage their scalp 2 times daily with a solution containing 3% eucalyptus oil. After 3 months of consistent use the women (who had natural, un-treated hair) increased their ceramide levels by 120% producing “thicker, visibly healthier hair!” Here’s the catch, this method only worked with the newly grown hair. Applying the eucalyptus oil lotion didn’t impact ceramide amounts the hair’s length. Women who’ve incorporated ceramides in their regimen often say their hair feels stronger but without that stiffness that protein gives. Does this mean your hair no longer needs protein? Nope. While ceramides do help reinforce the strand, they aren’t as effective at strengthening the inner layers of the hair like protein does.
So what is a natural way to add ceramides to your regimen? Natural oils like hemp seed and wheat germ oil are a great source of ceramides. Unlike with the eucalyptus, you can start using wheat germ oil today to help reinforce your tresses. You can purchase wheat germ oil on it’s own or you can seek out products with this ingredient. That way you can give your hair a daily dose of this highly valuable hair strengthener.
Ceramides make hair smooth and strong! I’ve been experimenting with ceramide containing oils… I’m lovingBurts Bees Nourishing Baby Oil because it’s natural and readily available (Walgreens, Target, etc.).
One of the many characteristics of ceramides is the high levels of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, which supports healthy body, skin, and hair. The list below breaks down the amount of linoleic acid (and where you find LA, you often find cermides) in common oils and fats. These oils are great for moisture retention and smoothing the cuticle. Many of them may help boost your cermides naturally.
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%
Olive oil 10%
Palm oil 10%
Cocoa butter 3%
Macadamia oil 2%
Coconut oil 2%
*studies conducted show these oils contain ceramides.
While in Orlando, I met the lovely Nadege, and we talked ceramides for a while! She also gave me a sample of her oil, Gleau (pronounced glow). It’s an Argan oil blend with two kinds of wheat germ oil, and Camellia seed oil from Japan. There are a total of 8 nourishing oils found in Gleau, and it’s non-greasy! Sweet, right?!
Wanna get your hands on a bottle?!
In the comments below, tell us about your experiences with ceramides or why you plan to start experimenting.
Today at 5pm EST, I’ll randomly choose one winner to receive a 2oz bottle of Gleau!
Just the perfect excuse to buy grapeseed oil…and I got it today at Super Walmart right after reading this article…YAY!!!
I use grapeseed oil as a heat protectant but didn't know the full benefits of ceramides. Think I'll try it for a scalp massage. Thanks for the info!
I'm actually in the process of trying to come up with a routine to combat the split ends I have recently come across. While I know I have to trim my ends I need to something to keep this this from happening again… Can anyone recommend a hair reconstructer with ceramides?
I have been using ceramides for the past 3 months and my hair loves it! Currently I use Sunflower oil and I can honestly say my hair has never felt softer after applying an oil to it. And I waiting to try Rice Bran, Wheat Germ, and Hemp Seed oils as well. I would love to try the Glaceau!! Especially since I am on a self-imposed spending fast and as a certified product junkie a freebie would be much appreciated!!
I am in love with ricebran oil for my skin. I used wheatgerm oil before I knew it was a ceramide and loved it on my hair. I am currently using hempseed oil and love how soft my hair is! Be sure to keep it in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life! Happy hair growing!
I've just started wearing my hair out and i would like to make my hair as strong as possible to keep frizz away. Also, I will soon start work at a BSS and during the training alot of women walked up to me wanting to know my reggie because they thought my hair looked good. I need my hair to be as fly as possible on the job so I would like to see if this could help.
Thanks for list! After being natural for 6 yrs, I put a relaxer back in my head. Fast-forward, I'm now 12 mos (next week!!) post-relaxer. So I'm basically starting over again, and I truly appreciate sites like this! I recently purchased grape seed oil, not even really knowing about these ceramides. Truth be told, I bought it for cooking, but will now set some aside for my hair!
I use Coconut oil, Grapeseed oil, and Olive Oil in my sprays that I make. I have recently started to added it to conditioners along with Honey now with it being summer, since we are swimming more. I love how Grapeseed oil is a heat protectant if needed.
Wow, I'm very excited to learn about Ceramides! I've never heard of them before and am very interested to use them in my hair. Anything that will make my hair stronger is welcome!
Oops. I would love to win the ceramide oils! I had a "hair color gone wrong" and two years later I am still dealing with it; mostly by doing a series of little chops…not happy when I am trying to grow my hair. Thanks for posting the ceramide list…just in case I don't win. 😉
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I've used a couple oils from the bottom of the list (mostly olive oil), which has been good, but not great. I still think my hair's postential isn't being fulfilled. I'd mos def like to incorporate oils from the top of the list to see which one produces the most positive outcomes. Is is best to use as a pre-poo, sealant or scalp massage oil?
Ceramides definitely make me hair shiny, soft and supple. I inclued sunflower, safflower and grapeseed oils in my prepoo, shampoo , DC and sealing steps. I would love to try the Gleau oil!.
I first used ceramides about 3 months ago as a pre-poo to help with my hair cuticles. I was facing serious shedding issues. Using a mix of avocado, grapeseed, and olive oil worked wonders for smoothing down my cuticles and detangling. I saw minor transformations in my hair when i used the pre-poo, this post just reminded me to try a new oil mix for the summer. I would like to experiment with other ceramides in my regimen so I can see which work best with my hair.
I learned something new today…thanks so much for posting this valuable information for all to see. I too have added this word to my ever increasing natural hair dictionary. Knowledge is power!
As for ceramides, I just recently started incorporating them into my hair regimen. I use grapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil for my pre-poos.
I also use grapeseed oil as a heat protectant if I have the desire to wear my hair in a blow out style.
In addition to using ceramides for my hair regimen, I also incorporate them into my skin care regimen. I follow the OCM (oil cleansing method) to wash my face. The oils I use in my mixture are castor oil, grapeseed oil and a few drops of tea tree oil.
I started using ceramides after a post on CN.com. I have fine porous hair and my hair cuticles were constantly raised. I found that using my aloe vera alone was not enough to balance my PH so I incorporated sunflower oil as a sealant. It worked in closing my cuticle making detangling a breeze and also helping me retain moisture.
Ive been using ceramides for about 2 years now and didn't even know what it was called …lolz thanks Nik. I love love safflower oil its light and has no smell. Helps a lot with dry scalp and shedding to the point if I haven't used it in a while I notice a big diff.I also use grape and hemp seed oil from time to time mostly in the winter, added in my daily oil mix due to there super moisturizing properties. which is much needed in the dry winter months.
I have unknowingly stumbled upon ceramides. Beginning in November 2010 I began using grapeseed oil as opposed to coconut oil to "seal" my hair because the cold weather made the coconut oil stiffen my hair. It was a lovely change not only was my hair shinier and softer but it was also smoother. There was less breakage and I didn't need to use protein treatments as often. I didn't know what it was but I knew I loved grapeseed oil! Due to the positive results from grapeseed oil I would love to incorporate more ceramides into my regimen.
I use grape seed oil all the time to do blow-outs, a tip I learned from Nikki Mae.
wow. It's nice to have this list of ceramides. i think i will try to add a few to my daily routine.
Hemp Seed oil is excellent! I use it in my deep conditioner and it produces smooth, silky results every time. It is my fav with grapeseed oil being the second fav.
i actually have some burt bee's but used it becuz its not greasy, light and has a fresh scent. this is the first of my research on ceramides so i'll incorporating more into the reggie!! thanx 🙂
I use ceramides to reduce breakage for my hair while detangling and to seal in moisture. I'd like to try it because my birthday's coming up 😛
I fell off my hair journey until recently. Ive wanted to transition to natural since summer 2010 but ended up texlaxing and continuing that process until march 2011. Now I'm more determined than ever to long term transition to natural. so I've been stalking all natural hair sites and transitioning youtubers to gain some much needed knowledge. This is the first time ive heard about ceramides and i immediately ran to burts bees site to see how i can get some of that oil!!! lol maybe i should cut it out cause i just spent major $ on the qhemet ghee you love so much… but im gunna do it anyway
anyway pretty pretty please with a curl on top pick me for this giveaway. I'm a broke college student that would really really really appreciate it!! love your site!
until next time
This is the first I'm hearing of this term, and I've never (knowingly) made use of the oils that top the list. If this is considered an essential step for healthy and strong hair, then I definitely plan to implement it ASAP, starting with a trip to Target for the Burts Bees that CN recommends!
I have been eager to learn more about oils and how they will help. I am definitely going to start focusing on Ceramides in my hair journey..thanks for the information!
I want to try ceramides! I feel that my hair could use some strengthing up. So why not give ceramides a try to see if they could help.
Anon @ 8:24, I was actually about to make a post asking why my hair gets frizzy when I use ceramides. I just learned I'm low porosity as well…I'll definitely keep staying away from it.
I use grape seed oil on occasion, especially as an oil for scalp massages and it leaves a non-greasy feeling (which I love). I plan to use more, especially now that I've cut off most of my broken hair from heat damage; something to strengthen these tresses in conjunction with protein treatments would be great.
I hadn't been focusing on the ceramides, but I would like to give it a try. My hair has made a lot of improvement since 2 months ago, but now I'd like to take it to the next level.
my goodness, I heard of all this hair healthy oils, yet I never knew what they actually did for the hair. Ceramides a new word for my natural hair dictionary. Now I want to start experimenting using these oils to see which one works best for my hair. I wonder if castor oil would be considered a ceramides? This was excellent info for me, thanks
now that i have started a pre-poo regimen with adding oils [olive or coconut] to a cheapie conditioner, my hair is so much softer and there's less breakage. i didn't realize the great difference pre-pooing would make vs. post poo DC'ing. it really works!
I would like to start adding Ceramides to my pre-poos. I have been considering adding grape seed oil once i complete my bottle of sweet almond oil. I try to finish one product before purchasing another to avoid becoming an even bigger product junkie, lol. I have noticed adding the sweet almond oil to my pre-poo mixature and my water spritz mix had made my hair increasingly softer!
Wheat Germ falls under the Protein category and will not give pleasing results to those naturals with low porus hair.
I've been using for ceramides to help aid my shedding and breakage issues for about a month. I haven't had a chance to fully access the effects on my hair since I want to give it six months. However, I have noticed that my hair feels much softer so that's a plus
Right now I'm using sunflower oil in my prepoo mixes and in combination with JBCO to seal my ends. I would love to find wheat germ oil to add to my mixes as well.