Sphingolipids at a glance

  • Long chain fats that are skin-replenishing and conditioning ingredients
  • Help skin make more ceramides
  • Prevent water loss

Sphingolipids description

Sphingolipids are complex, long chain lipids (fats) that function as skin-replenishing and conditioning ingredients. In layperson’s terms, this means they help maintain an intact skin barrier and prevent water loss, leading to healthier, smoother, more youthful-looking skin. They are a precursor to ceramides, and help skin make more ceramides, which are key to keeping it strong. The name “sphingolipid” is in part derived from the term sphingoid, coined in 1884 by chemist J. L. W. Thudichum because their enigmatic nature reminded him of the mythological sphinx.

Sphingolipids references

  • American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, July 2021, ePublication
  • Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, November 2017, pages 175-191
  • Journal of Allergy and Chemical Immunology, February 2017, AB87
  • Lipids in Health and Disease, January 2016, ePublication
  • http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/lipids/introsph/index.htm
  • Progress in Lipid Research, January 2013, pages 141-164
  • Skin Therapy Letter, July 2012, pages 6-9

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.