The beauty industry has seen quite a bit of talk about the skin barrier as of late. But what exactly is it? The skin barrier refers to the outermost layers of skin cells (top layer of epidermis) and it’s more important than you may have thought. Not only does it keep irritants like toxins and pathogens from entering the lower layers of our skin, it also keeps hydration from escaping, giving us the radiance we all want!
What can damage your skin barrier?
Unfortunately, the skin barrier is pretty high maintenance. It really does not take a lot to cause damage. From life stresses to getting dodgy skincare tips off Tiktok (we’ve all been there) you can compromise your skin barrier many different ways. Here are the main players:
- Over cleansing/exfoliating – Can cause microtears in the skin barrier
- Too much sun exposure
- Genetics - can make certain people more prone to skin conditions such as psoriasis
- Climate - too humid or too dry can weaken the barrier
- Age – as we get older our barrier function weakens naturally
How do I know if I have damaged mine?
Your skin will feel sensitive and irritated. It may also appear red with a scaly/flaky texture to it. You may also experience a stinging sensation when you apply products to your face, ouch!
Caring for a damaged skin barrier
If you do find damage to your barrier has occurred, do not panic. Whilst the skin barrier might be high maintenance, it is also repairable. Hope is not lost!
One thing’s for sure, your skin is going to need a lot more TLC than usual. A good way to start is by putting your skin barrier in the hands of a professional (not literally). Speaking with a dermatologist or licensed professional will always be your best bet. They can help you identify the root cause of your damaged barrier and curate a skincare routine that works for your skin rather than against it.
If you decide to go it alone, there are lots of simple changes you can make that will help build the barrier back up. Firstly, ditch the abrasive scrubs and exfoliators and your skin will thank you for it! Opt for gentle and nourishing cleansers that will leave your skin feeling hydrated rather than sore and stripped.
When doing your skincare routine, you need to be using lukewarm water. Many of us make the mistake of using water that is simply too hot or cold which is stripping our skin and drying it out. We need to be making sure that the temperature of water we use isn’t undoing all the hard work of our skin care products.
You may also need to shop around for a different moisturiser. You’re going to want to use ones that give your skin back its hydration and radiance. Moisturisers that include humectants and emollients are a fantastic option as they work together to hydrate and soften the skin, returning it back to its former glory.
Lastly, take care of yourself. It’s no secret that stress can have a major impact on the overall health of your skin, it can even slow down the skins healing process and this case, our skin barrier. So, it’s worth taking a look at the stressors in your environment and if there are any ways that they could be reduced.
All in all, our skin barrier is a vital part of us that really does need looking after. With a bit of love and patience, your skin barrier can be on the road to repair in no time. Just try to steer clear from products and external factors that are causing distress to your skin. And remember, prevention is definitely better than cure with our skin barrier.