Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Some of you have heard of it, but I know some of you may have not. It’s the skin barrier AKA the barrier function AKA moisture barrier or lipid barrier.⠀
It’s SUPER important because it’s our first defense in keeping our skin healthy and the fun part? EVERYONE has it. ⠀
And when we’re not respectful of its fragile nature, we damage and weaken it. This not only causes extreme sensitivities but also can expedite breakouts and aging in the skin. ⠀
Our skin is remarkable. Honestly. One of the greatest things about skin is its ability to regenerate - as much as we damage it we can also repair it.⠀
Let’s Dive Deeper
Okay, so exactly what is the Skin Barrier?
The skin barrier is found in the epidermis layer of the skin.
The very top of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum, and this is where the skin barrier calls home.
The skin barrier works to keep moisture and oil inside of the skin while acting as a barrier to keep allergens, chemicals that can cause reactions, pollutants, irritants, and bacteria out. It’s our barrier to the outside world. Again, super important.
How do you know if it’s in a weak or damaged state?
* Your skin is dry, parched, flaky, and/or itchy.
* If you have eczema, rosacea, psoriasis
* Products that have been staples in your routine all of the sudden make your skin sensitized and cause tingling, burning, and stinging.
* Your skin is tight and dehydrated.
* You’re dealing with inflammatory skin reactions like redness, heat and you’re getting irritation breakouts.
Did one or ALL of these symptoms resonate with you? There's a good chance your skin barrier is weak and damaged.
Reasons your skin barrier is damaged?
* OVER EXFOLIATING - This is a biggie. We all know the benefits of exfoliation, so much so that we abuse it (unknowingly) and we wreak havoc on our skin. Assess your routine. Are you exfoliating every day? How many actives are you rotating?
* Using high Ph cleansers- Cleansing is a very stripping process in our routine. Does your skin feel squeaky clean after you cleanse? Does your skin feel tight and dry after?
* Using stripping or harsh ingredients in your routine - the main culprit for most people is alcohol (SD alcohol, ethanol, denatured, isopropyl, methanol, or ethyl alcohol) as the main ingredient in your products. (There are good alcohols like cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. Typically, these are used as emollients and thickeners in skin-care products.)
* Dry Environment - Plan your travel carefully. The change in seasons, air conditioning, and heating. Please be mindful of it all.
* Using very hot water and no sunscreen - Hot water, believe it or not, can strip moisture from your skin and if you do that continuously you can really do damage. And kind of a no-brainer but sun exposure without protection can dry out your skin.
Ways to Heal the Skin Barrier
* Stop ALL exfoliation. Yup, I said it. Don’t do any of it. (AHA’s, BHA’s, PHA’s, Vitamin C, Retinoids, Fruit Enzymes, Scrubs, Spin Brushes, Silicone Face Tools.) I would say depending on the severity between 3 to 6 weeks is a good period of celibacy from exfoliation lol. Take a look at your routine. Do you chemically exfoliate every day? Do so temporarily (keyword) and add things back in slowly.
* Use Low Ph Cleaners - This is important because the acid mantle is directly related to your skin barrier. You want to keep the environment of your acid mantle in your skin at is a natural level of about 4.7 to 5.5 (everyone is unique.) So use cleansers about 5.5 to make sure the acid mantle stays in a neutral state.
* Wash your face with luke water.
* Protect your skin from the environment - use sunscreen. Add a humidifier at home or in your office. It will create humidity in the air to feed moisture into your skin all day.
*Include Skin Barrier Loving Ingredients in Your Routine
*HYDRATE - Add water back into your skin. Focus your toner, essence, and serum steps on watery, hydrating products. You want to look out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, and snail.
* NOURISH - You need to find serums, emulsions, oils, and creams with ingredients that will replenish the glue that makes up your barrier. When it comes to repairing your skin barrier, ceramides, fatty acids (Linoleic acid), and cholesterol are the three ingredients you want to focus on.
* SEAL - A nice occlusive cream or sleeping pack as a final step is my favorite way to ensure everything I just put on my face stays there. I love sealing with Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, and even Petrolatum.
When your skin barrier is weak those building blocks in your skin are thin, they create holes, and there isn’t enough of it to go around to hold everything together, so we want to add that back through products. Other barriers fortifying are peptides, urea, niacinamide, squalane, panthenol, amino acids, beta-glucan, and antioxidants.
What is my favorite barrier strengthening product you ask? It is Great Barrier Relief from Krave Beauty.
Reasons to love:
-Lightweight oil-based treatment ⠀
-Great for sensitized skin with damaged skin barrier ⠀
-Hydrating moisturizing ⠀
-Works to restore and repair ⠀
-Delightfully natural “scent” from the ingredients ⠀
NOTE: If you get congested skin easily I don’t recommend it for daily use. ⠀
Was this helpful? I’d love to know what your favorite skin barrier product is.