I have been talking for a while about the skin barrier but have you wondered what is it exactly and how to care for it?
In this post, I’d like to touch on this in more detail and educate myself and you on what the skin barrier is and how to care for it.
First of all, a little definition
Now you have to rememeber that the skin is the largest organ of our body. It’s main function is to protect us from all enviromental agressors.
To put it simply, the skin barrier is the outer layer of our skin, the stratum corneum. This layer is composed of skin cells, lipids and natural moisturizing factors.
A key component of our skin barrier is the acid mantle. This is a slightly acidic film that is naturally formed on top of our skin. This is why we always talk about pH in products, it keeps the acid mantle in balance and in turn it protects us from bacteria and viruses.
A compromised skin barrier will cause dryness, acne, irritation, etc.
How to care for your skin barrier
We often talk about a damaged skin barrier and how to care for it, but how do you maintain it?
pH. Like I mentioned, you have to use the right products with an acid mantle friendly pH level which is around the number 5.5. The products that usually are the first to go on our face need to be balancing. This means choosing the right cleanser and toner.
If you wish to be very meticulous about it you can use pH testing strips that can be found at the drugstore or online. Personally I don’t go that far, but if you have a particularly naggy skin you might want to look into it.
Another great way to protect your barrier against enviromental agressors is SPF. I have stressed time and time again, how important it is to protect yourself fom the sun. First cause of premature ageing! Our skin is constantly bombarded by UVA and UVB rays, even in cloudy weather.
What can damage the skin barrier
Some of the most common things that can dammage the skin barrier are the following:
Air quality is something we are constantly exposed to (if you overlook the sun). When this quality is poor the skin barrier can come under attack. research has shown that people can experience sensitivity when pollution is at its peak.
- Using the wrong products
Overly stripping products are the nemesis of the skin barrier. Abusing on active ingredients which essentially exfoliate your skin, can weaken the skin barrier. Overwashing can also be a problem. It can deplete essential lipids and damage the acid mantle. Chose gentle cleansers. Your skin should not squeaky like a dish after you washed it.
Unfortunately, ageing is something that we all experience. Collagen production slows down, natural moisturising factors are depleted. It’s common to have drier skin with age and for our skin barrier to weaken. It’s important to supply the skin with what it lacks. Collagen is too big of a molecule to absorb into the skin, but ceramides, amino acids, are great ingredients to make the skin barrier stronger.
Some people just aren’t lucky and have a genetically weak skin barrier. It is essential to determine it early and supply it with what it needs to be stronger. This means topically but also internally. There are many foods that are naturally rich in ceramides for example. Soybeans, brown rice, dairy, eggs.
How do you know it’s damaged?
A healthy skin barrier is easy to spot. It will protect you from external aggressors and will retain moisture. With a healthy barrier, your skin will be supple, smooth and radiant.
With a damaged skin barrier skin is more susceptible to bacteria, damages caused by the sun, the pollution, etc. It will visibly be irritated, feel tight, look dull and even experience breakouts. It is simply easily attacked.
Signs will vary, from dryness, itchiness, flakiness, to oiliness, acne, sensitivity. If the skin changes out of nowhere then you might have a compromised skin barrier.
Additionally, in this time and age, we need to wear a mask to protect us from COVID-19. The environment created by the mask is just ideal for bacteria to flourish, which will put a strain on our skin barrier. The results are maskne.
Help! I’ve damaged my skin barrier
If you noticed signs that your skin barrier might be compromised, don’t panic. It will take a while, but it can be repaired.
First of all, simplify your routine. Think of it as a diet. Cut out all actives, opt for a gentle cleanser, toner, moisturiser, oil. Maybe add in a hyaluronic acid serum. But keep it basic.
Opt for humectants. These are ingredients that will draw the moisture from the air and into your skin. Add in emollients, aka oils. These will help ensure the moisture is safely locked in since your skin won’t be able to maintain the moisture in on itself.
Add soothing ingredients such as Centella Asiatica, panthenol and ceramides. These will help your skin heal from the irritation.
Be patient, this can take a few weeks. Allow your skin to heal and rebalance itself.
I hope this post has helpped you!
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