What is a healthy skin barrier?
What is your skin barrier, and why is it so important to keep it healthy?
Your skin is made up of layers, and each performs essential roles in protecting your body.
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin, known as the epidermis. It keeps moisture in and damaging elements like sun exposure, bacteria, and pollution out. On a more superficial note, it’s the part that we see, so it’s imperative from a cosmetic perspective.
A healthy skin barrier is well hydrated, resilient, moisturized, and firm. Keeping it strong and healthy is vital for radiant skin, which is why it’s essential to both address and prevent damage.
An easy way to understand how your skin barrier works is the brick and mortar analogy. Compare the skin barrier (stratum corneum) to a brick wall; the stacks of cells are bricks, and the fatty matrix surrounding them the mortar. Together they form a barrier that keeps skin’s precious water content inside, so skin stays firm, hydrated, and less prone to wrinkles.
What is a damaged skin barrier?
One of the primary effects of skin barrier damage is transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Through this process, hydration and moisture passively evaporate through the compromised barrier, leading to dryness.
Dry, flaky, itchy, irritated, or sensitive skin are common signs of a damaged or weakened barrier function. When skin’s barrier becomes damaged or impaired, it loses or becomes unable to hold on to the vital substances that keep skin cells intact: ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids like linoleic acid. This means chemicals can penetrate more readily and potentially cause inflammation, which manifests as skin sensitivity – often resulting in stinging or redness, especially when using certain skincare ingredients.
Over time, your skin barrier can become impaired. Aging, exposure to environmental stressors, and everyday activities like over-cleansing can cause cumulative damage that compromises its structure. Remember our brick and mortar analogy? Without proper care, the mortar between the bricks weakens, and cracks begin to emerge. These make space for bacteria and irritants to enter the skin and for moisture and hydration to escape.
How to keep your skin barrier thriving?
Hydrate! Hydrate! Keep your skin moisturized. Products with ceramides, glycerin, and other lipid agents act like cement to heal the cracks to restore hydration. You should moisturize daily and use products with ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid; they absorb water and surround skin cells with lipids, causing them to hang on to moisture. Try our Hexapeptide Revitalizing Serum and Lipid-Primrose Intense Crème. You also need to be using antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, and E, which can be found in our Ferulic+C Antioxidant Serum.
Don’t overdo it with your products. Use lukewarm/cool water when gently cleansing your skin. Over exfoliating with products that have harsh ingredients will strip your skin of natural oils. Do not use abrasive scrubs as they can cause micro-tears to the skin’s surface. Instead, use a gentle, leave-on exfoliant such as our AHA Radiant Serum.
Protect your skin from the sun every day, wear your SPF!