Protecting or restoring the skin barrier has become increasingly popular in the skincare world. While you may be familiar with the term skin barrier, we’re here to help elevate you to a skintellectual skin barrier expert.
Let’s talk about what a skin barrier is, what purpose it serves, and what to do if you’ve damaged it.
What Is the Skin Barrier?
Your skin is made up of three layers. Going from bottom to top, they are the subcutaneous fat layer between your skin and muscle; the layer that holds all of your skin’s collagen and elastin, among other things, which is called the dermis; and your epidermis.
To get more specific, your epidermis has layers of its own. Skin barrier usually refers to the topmost layer of your topmost layer, called the stratum corneum.
Your stratum corneum, or skin barrier, is made up of skin cells called corneocytes, which bind together like glue to create the barrier. Your skin barrier also helps produce natural hydration for your skin.
While it’s not the most glamorous part of your body, the skin barrier is crucial to keeping your complexion bright.
Your skin barrier seals in water and electrolytes, which keep your skin hydrated, which is why it’s sometimes called your moisture barrier. Without a moisture barrier, no matter how on point your moisturising routine is, you will struggle to keep your skin smooth and hydrated.
A damaged skin barrier can lead to water loss and affect your skin hydration levels overall.
What Does Your Skin Barrier Do for You?
Your skin barrier is crucial because it keeps moisture and electrolytes in. Not only does this allow your skin to hold on to all the hydrating goodness you bring to it throughout your skincare routine, but it also helps with undue water loss even if the air around you is uncomfortably dry.
Your skin barrier is also in charge of keeping bacteria out of your body. Your skin is your immune system’s first line of defence against sickness, and a damaged skin barrier is less effective at fending off bacteria.
Dry skin gets in the way of your dewy glow and can cause redness, flaking, and irritation. When your skin can’t stay hydrated, this can also affect your skin’s elasticity, which is your skin’s ability to bounce back after stress. If your skin can’t bounce back, you’re more likely to develop fine lines and wrinkles.
Dry skin is also more prone to atopic dermatitis and is more vulnerable to environmental stressors and bacteria, which can lead to skin conditions such as breakouts.
Like the rest of your body, your skin needs water to work at its highest level.
How Do You Know if Your Skin Barrier Is Damaged?
In general, if you’re constantly itchy, dry, red, or find yourself extra prone to hyperpigmentation and dark marks, a damaged skin barrier might be the cause.
Certain skin conditions can also be indicative of a damaged skin barrier. For instance, while a skin barrier problem can’t cause rosacea and eczema, flare-ups of these conditions can be related to your skin barrier.
Some viruses and skin infections can also mean your skin barrier needs some love. If you think you have a skin condition caused by a damaged skin barrier, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider or your dermatologist to discuss treatment. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to start using barrier-repairing products.
What Causes Skin Barrier Damage?
If you overuse skincare products, particularly products that rely on active ingredients like an AHA or BHA for chemical exfoliation, this can lead to a compromised skin barrier over time. This is due to over-exfoliating.
Unless you’re using a very gentle exfoliator, many exfoliants are too powerful to be used every night without causing skin barrier damage.
Stress, a lack of sleep, and even a poor diet can also negatively impact your barrier. Your skin barrier can also be damaged by environmental factors such as smoking, sun exposure, air pollution, and even wind. That’s why it’s so important to use a high SPF sunscreen daily to help prevent sun damage.
Finally, your skin barrier can also be worn down by age, ill-fitting skincare ingredients, and hot showers that dry out your skin.
If you notice that your skin problems, like itching or dryness, tend to flare up during the winter or in areas with higher levels of air pollution, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about your skin barrier.
How Do You Restore Your Skin Barrier?
If you’re reading all this and realising that your complexion complaints might be related to skin barrier damage, there’s no need to panic. Skin barrier restoration is possible!
Let’s walk through some of the most important practices for helping that restoration process along.
Speak to a Professional
If you think you have a serious issue with your skin, the first step is to speak to a doctor or dermatologist. While you can do your own research and probably get pretty far when it comes to improving your skin, running your current skincare regimen past a pro is always a great way to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.
Your doctor or dermatologist will first and foremost be able to tell you if issues like dryness and inflammation are due to damage to your skin barrier in the first place. Once they’ve confirmed the source of your issue, your dermatologist should be able to help you figure out if there’s something about your routine you need to change to improve your skin’s wellbeing.
Readdress Your Routine with a Goal
If you like to collect skincare products, getting a little off track can be easy. You find a face wash and lotion here, toner and scrub there, a new moisturising mask somewhere else, and suddenly your simple three-step routine has ballooned into a bevy of new products that can take over your bathroom — and your bank account.
When it comes to addressing issues with your skin barrier, you will want to approach your skincare routine with intentional focus.
Skin Barrier Best Practices
You want to keep your skincare routine simple until you’re sure your moisture barrier is doing its job. Pick your primary goal — and if you’re optimising your skin barrier, it’s most likely going to be hydration — and orient your skincare regimen around that main goal.
Multitasking formulas will be your best friends for supporting your skin barrier!
Stick to a simple, straightforward skincare routine for just a little while. This will be gentler on your sensitive skin but still nourishing, which will give it the space and tenderness it needs to recover and repair itself.
Use a Gentle and Nourishing Cleanser
If breakouts are your priority, you might be using a cleanser formulated with Salicylic Acid or other potentially drying ingredients that can cause sensitivity. While these kinds of cleansers can help skin complaints, Synthetic Salicylic Acid can be rough on your skin barrier, particularly with a product you’re likely to use at least once, if not twice, daily.
Our Everyday Cleansing Oil is exactly what your skin barrier needs to make a full recovery. This formula strikes that delicate balance of effectively helping remove dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other pollutants from the skin while nourishing and supporting the skin barrier thanks to antioxidants natural oils.
Rapeseed is a botanical proven to perform in the world’s harshest conditions and provides a treasure trove of benefits and nourishment to the skin while helping to prevent TEWL.
If You’re Using a Serum, Make It About Your Skin Barrier
When trying to improve skin barrier function, it’s best to steer clear of ingredients that can be harsh on your skin — think most Hydroxy Acids and Synthetic Retinol. You may be able to reintroduce these ingredients into your routine once your skin barrier repair is complete — but you’ll want to do so gently and gradually.
Our Everyday Glow Serum is the perfect serum to use while you’re trying to rehab your skin barrier — and after. It’s the be-all, end-all of anti-aging serums because it fights five signs of ageing by working hard to help your skin do what it does best. That’s because it harnesses the power of the most bioactive and potent antioxidant in the skincare world: The Glow Complex
The Glow Complex's ability to fight free radicals makes it a great addition to your skin barrier restoration cause because your skin barrier can be affected by damage from UV rays. UV rays can create free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage your skin as they attempt to stabilise in a process called oxidative stress.
Everyday Glow Serum also helps combat dryness, roughness, and dullness. Since keeping your skin well-hydrated is key to a skin barrier that works, this is something you definitely want in your routine.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Your moisturiser will be the real superhero in your simple skin barrier rehab routine. Because skin barrier damage can cause your skin to struggle to hold onto moisture, finding an effective way to hydrate your skin until your skin barrier is back up and running is vital.
Our Hydration Mask is the best place to start if you prefer a cream moisturiser. She delivers extreme hydrating moisture, powerful antioxidant benefits, and extreme skin barrier optimisation.
That’s because it’s formulated with Hyaluronic Acid, which is a humectant that attracts and binds water to your skin. And more than that, our Hydration Mask utilises an optimal concentration of low and high-weighted Hyaluronic molecules.
Each size of Hyaluronic Acid works differently. The small molecules absorb easily into your skin to help deliver hydration, while the larger sizes work on a surface level to help soften and nourish the skin.
Hydration Mask is also packed with omega fatty acids, which can help prevent transepidermal water loss, giving your skin barrier the protection it needs to return the favour.
While it’s important to keep your skincare routine simple when trying to help your skin barrier, the occasional targeted treatment can help restore hydration and balance to your complexion.
The Hydration Mask is exactly what your skin needs when it’s thirsty. Rather than turning to wasteful sheet masks or other products full of harsh preservatives, turn to our overnight mask, which is clinically proven to boost your skin’s hydration levels while you sleep. In fact, 100% of our clinical participants showed improved hydration within 24 hours of using this overnight mask.
It’s perfect for all skin types, and as a bonus, it’s free of pore-clogging waxes, so you can use it even when your skin barrier is struggling to help restore hydration and balance without risking breakouts — all while being hypoallergenic, too.
Face Oils to lock in the hydration
Face oils are locking in the hydration, and while it’ll depend on your personal preference, if you’re looking for intense hydration, face oils are super effective.
It fights signs of ageing, addresses targeted concerns, and deeply hydrates in a single, transformative step. This is so important when you’re looking to support your skin barrier, when the simpler your routine is, the better.
Everyday Face Oil is formulated with an abundance of natural skincare ingredients like natural Oils, because natural Oils are nutrient gold mines packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help deliver glowing, balanced skin.
The natural oils we use are also made up of small molecules, making them similar to the lipids your skin naturally produces. This means that your skin easily recognises and absorbs these molecules.
Our moisturising face oils are also rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which are good for your skin barrier and for proactive defending against signs of ageing.
Maintaining your skin barrier is key to maintaining an ideal complexion and overall wellness. Although you’re likely aware that your skin is the largest organ in your body, it’s easy to get so caught up in your complexion concerns that you forget that it’s not an independent entity!
Luckily, the solution to maintaining your skin barrier is simple when you get down to it: as long as you treat your skin barrier well, it will treat you well, too.