An advertisement for a new Elizabeth Arden product, Ceramide Gold Eye Capsules, caught my attention the other day. The individual capsules for the eyes contain ceramide and the ad claimed they will fortify the eye area and help fight fine lines. I vaguely knew that ceramide is supposed to help the skin retain moisture, but I've never really thought about it as a convincing anti-ager. I decided to find out more.

There is, indeed, evidence that ceramides play an important role in the stratum corneum's moisture retention. According to a Japanese study, "Ceramide comprises about 30% of stratum corneum lipids, which have an important role in both the water retention and barrier function of the skin."

In this study eight people's eyelids were treated with a ceramide gel for four weeks. "Water content of eyelid skin was significantly increased after treatment."

There are nine types of ceramide (conveniently numbered one through nine). One of the most interesting things about them is that they are signaling molecules. The 'signal' they perform is apostosis, programming a cell to die. This has made ceramide the subject of numerous studies on its role in treating cancer patients.

It seems, then, that overall ceramide is helpful as a cosmetic ingredient because of its role in helping the external layer of skin retain moisture. It is not something that promotes cell or collagen growth (in fact, au contraire). So, it should probably be combined with other ingredients for the best results.

I did read somewhere that a moisturizing cream that contains ceramide must also have cholesterol and three fatty acids if it is to work. There is no cholesterol in Elizabeth Arden's Ceramide Gold Eye Capsules ($52 for 60 capsules), but, there are two fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic). In addition to the usual emollients and silicones that Arden typically uses to create a feel good factor, there are plenty of oils (safflower, sunflower, olive, borage, meadowfoam and apricot kernal).

Cell growth may be helped by the inclusion of palmitoyl hexapeptide 14 and a stable form of vitamin C (tetrahexydecyl ascorbate).

All in all, not bad (although the mineral oils and phytantriol - an alcohol - may irritate).

Ingredients in Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Eye Capsules:

Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Triisostearyl Citrate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Dimethicone, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 6 II, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Retinyl Linoleate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Phytantriol, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Lecithin, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-14, Ethoxydiglycol, Mineral Oil/Paraffinum Liquidum/Huile Minérale, Dimethicone Crosspolymer-3, Polysilicone-11.