It feels like we’re hearing a lot about the mystical skin barrier these days - but what actually is this all-important skin barrier? How do we keep it happy? And how the heck do we fix it if we’ve got a damaged skin barrier? Buckle up my friends, let’s dive deep into everything you need to know about the skin barrier.
What is the skin barrier?
That precious outermost layer of skin is called your skin barrier. Think of your skin barrier as a shield of armour. Basically, the skin barrier serves two main functions: keeping the bad stuff out (environmental stressors), while keeping all of the good stuff in (moisture).
A healthy skin barrier is key to a hydrated, glowing and even complexion. So, how do we know if our skin barrier is damaged?
Signs of a damaged skin barrier
There are a few surefire ways your skin will show you if you’re not properly taking care of your skin barrier. If you are dealing with a damaged skin barrier you may experience some or many of the following skin concerns:
- Chronic skin irritation
- Itchy skin
- Dull skin
- Skin infections
- Delayed wound healing
- Dryness (lack of oil)
- Dehydration (lack of water)
- Reactions to products
- Increased breakouts
What can damage your skin barrier?
Because your skin barrier is constantly shielding you from damage, it’s going to get harmed sometimes. Here are some of the biggest causes of a damaged skin barrier:
- Over exfoliating
- Lack of sleep
- Nutrient-deficient diet
- Chemical peels
- Acne medications
- Windy and dry climates
- UV rays
- Use of cleansers that strip the skin of its natural oils
- Overuse of exfoliating acids
- Use of harsh physical exfoliants
- Ageing - our barrier starts to become compromised from our 40s
- Not moisturising
- Overuse of active ingredients
How can you improve your skin barrier?
Step exfoliating for at least two weeks, then slowly start to reintroduce exfoliating once a week. You should only be exfoliating 2-3 times a week. This also goes for your AHA/BHA products.
Keep it cool
Cleanse your face with lukewarm water - not hot! Washing your skin with excessively hot water will only strip the skin of its natural oils and cause further damage.
Wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and other environmental damage.
Use the right products
Choosing the right ingredients in your skincare can help your skin to heal properly. Try and opt for products with nourishing and moisturising ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Sunflower Oil, Primrose Oil, Zinc and Vitamin E.