Do you have any idea just how important your skin barrier is? This skin superhero often goes unnoticed and unappreciated, but it plays a vital role in keeping it safe, hydrated and healthy and beautiful. Let’s show it the care and respect it deserves. You only have strong, happy and healthy skin to gain.
What is the skin barrier?
The skin barrier’s an incredible team made up of the stratum corneum and other good stuff.
Stratum whaaat? This is the outer layer of your skin that's made up of dead skin cells, supported by a whole crew of lipids (important fats and oils) between the skin cells, plus some proteins.
These all team up to form an invisible protective shield over your whole body. The mission (and they choose to accept it!), is to keep the bad stuff out, while holding onto the good stuff inside. This is to make sure your skin stays strong, so it stays in top-notch condition, doesn't lose too much water, and fights off any trouble. 🦸♀️🦸♂️✨
What does the skin barrier do?
Think of it as your body’s first line of defense against the world.
It acts as a gatekeeper, keeping the good stuff (i.e., moisture) in:
- Preventing water from escaping keeps your skin hydrated and plump. But when the skin barrier is compromised, water loss leads to dehydrated and dull skin that doesn’t do its thing properly and ages before its time
- And it’s not just about a pretty face. The barrier is a key player in your overall health. It has a ripple effect: when your skin is well hydrated, it helps prevent water loss not only from your body but also from essential organs. Dehydration can strain your heart, kidneys, and other vital systems, affecting their performance
From the outside
It acts as a bouncer that prevents troublemakers from crashing the skin party:
- Germs like bacteria and viruses that can cause infections, breakouts, or even make you sick
- Irritants like harsh chemicals and allergens that can mess with your skin, causing redness, itching, or rashes. And pollution can also cause clogged pores and dullness.
- UV rays – the ultimate photobomb 🥴. They can cause sun damage that leads to wrinkles, sunburns, and even skin cancer
When things go wrong
Sometimes, skin problems like eczema (atopic dermatitis), acne and rosacea can cause the invisible layer to develop chinks in its armour, letting water escape. So, the skin becomes rough, dry and irritated and sore – even itchy, in the case of eczema. It can also become infected, which causes a whole other slew of problems.
Oh, and if you overdo your skincare, you can also mess with this protective layer.
The main culprits:
- Harsh cleansers that strip away the barrier
- Over-exfoliation with physical scrubs, retinols and exfoliating acids
Image: Pexels.com/Cottonbro Studio
Barrier repair step 1: Give your skin a break
When your skin's shield is under attack, it needs a break. Imagine it's like a digital detox – no skincare products, including sunscreen, for 2-5 days, a bit more if your skin is dealing with certain conditions like eczema, rosacea or dermatitis. If you’re not sure, ask a dermatologist to guide you.
Definitely pause the usual exfoliating besties like retinol, AHAs and BHAs, and swap out for good any harsh cleansers for a gentle cleanser that respects your skin pH and barrier.
Barrier repair step 2: Choose the right ingredients
Once the detox is over, give your skin a helping hand to restore and strengthen its outer shield, but keep it simple and gentle. Enter niacinamide and friends.
Niacinamide not only soothes and calms any irritation, it also helps repair the skin barrier by increasing production of important barrier lipids called ceramides.
Hyaluronic acid has a powerful action that holds onto moisture in the upper layers of the skin, as well as drawing it in from the air outside.
Cica, aka centella Asiatica, is like a security blanket when your skin barrier’s in need of some serious TLC. It calms down any redness or irritation, protect the barrier against free radical damage and boosts collagen production. It also helps to speed up the healing process, so the barrier has the support it needs to bounce back and keep doing its thing.
Squalane and the probiotic lactococcus ferment lysate are other barrier superheroes. Together, they repair the skin barrier and boost skin overall health. The probiotic keeps the skin’s microbiome balanced, while squalane replenishes the skin's natural oils and provides a protective shield.
Other important ingredients that work together to fortify the moisture lock: ceramides, vitamin E and linoleic acid.
CERM Skin’s fantastic 4
Our barrier-repair superheroes
Barrier repair step 3: Feed your skin shield
Did you know your diet can help your skin? Supplementing with omega fatty acids, found in oily fish or in omega-3 supplements, can contribute to the well-being of your skin as they reinforce your skin's defense against external threats.
Cheers to a hydrated, protected and happy skin!
Remember that a strong and resilient skin barrier means a radiant and happy skin. So, when you think about your skincare routine, think simple, keep it gentle, and nourish it. 🌟💧