The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that keeps moisture in and damaging elements like UV, bacteria and pollution out. When the skin barrier is working well, the skin is hydrated, healthy and firm. When it's compromised, it can lead to skin issues like redness, irritation and breakouts. In some cases, it can lead to more serious skin conditions like eczema. So, the key to skin health- and glow- is healthy barrier function.
What Is The Skin Barrier?
The skin barrier, or stratum corneum, is what stands between us and the outside world. It prevents environmental chemicals and biological irritants from entering the skin. The skin barrier is best understood through a brick and mortar analogy. The multiple layers of cells in your epidermis called coenocytes are bricks. These are held together by lipids, ceramics, and cholesterol that act as the mortar. Together, they form a ‘barrier’ that helps your skin retain moisture, while also keeping harmful chemicals out.
Why Is the Skin Barrier Important?
The skin barrier does a lot of heavy lifting, but it is delicate and prone to thinning with age. A compromised skin barrier can lead to sensitized and dehydrated skin susceptible to environmental harm, dryness, irritation, breakouts, and other signs of aging.
Dry, flaky, itchy, irritated or sensitive skin are all common signs of a damaged or weakened barrier function. Damaged lipids due to harsh cleansers, physical harm to skin or environmental stress cause the skin to lose water and dry out. This makes you vulnerable to rashes, skin disorders, and increasing your susceptibility to allergic reactions as well.
What Are Some Tips To Repair And Build Up Your Skin Barrier?
Don't Go Overboard With Your Skincare Routine
Often, damaged skin barriers are the result of damaging skincare routines. This can be caused by washing your face excessively, over-exfoliating, or using too many products. Adjust your skincare routines seasonally. What might work in the summer may clog your pores in the winter. Consult a dermatologist or esthetician to ensure you’re using the right products, and dumping the wrong ones.
Ensure Your Products Contain the Right Ingredients
To maintain a healthy skin barrier, it is absolutely essential that you have a good hydrating agent in your routine. One such ingredient is hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring molecule that can bind water a thousand times its weight. Its humectant properties enable it to hold onto moisture by pulling in water to the skin like a sponge.This helps maintain hydration and skin plumpness. Other great ingredients like peptides and ceramides also support collagen production and moisture retention.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is one of the chief causes of damage to your skin barrier function. Sunscreen, especially one that is at least SPF 30, will help you avoid this by creating a second layer of protection.
Take the pH Level Of Your Products Into Account
Your skin is naturally acidic. Any product that deviates too far from the natural pH level of your skin makes your skin barrier more vulnerable to damage. Use pH-balanced skincare products whenever possible.