Your skin barrier is to your skin what frosting is to a cake. Just as frosting acts as a protective barrier and helps lock in moisture to keep the cake at its sumptuous spongy best, your skin barrier defends against external environmental aggressors while simultaneously protecting your skin against water loss.
What is your skin barrier?
Known as the skin microbiome, ecosystem or acid mantle, the skin barrier is an invisible layer made up of a mixture of oils, free fatty acids, water, and bacteria that sits just above the top layer of the skin.
How can you tell if your skin barrier is impaired?
A compromised skin barrier has a far-reaching knock-on effect throughout the skin and can present itself in several ways.
What does it look like?
The skin’s barrier plays an essential role in maintaining an optimum water balance in the skin. When impaired, moisture can be lost through microscopic cracks, which may result in dry, rough, and flaky skin. Alternatively, the loss of moisture may lead to the skin producing excess oil, as it tries to sustain its balance.
- Inflamed, rosacea type appearance, especially around the cheeks, neck, and centre of the face.
- Dry, flaky, and tight.
- Oily with increased congestion, breakouts, and uneven skin texture.
- Hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
- Mild telangiectasia (commonly known as "spider veins").
How does it feel?
- Hot, burning, and itchy.
- Tender and sensitive.
- Rough, uneven, and coarse.
How does it react?
- Easily aggravated and more reactive to irritants.
- Stinging or burning sensation when products are applied.
- Prone to infection as harmful organisms can penetrate more easily when the skin barrier is compromised.
- Wounds and lesions take longer to heal.
What causes an impaired skin barrier?
Your skin barrier is easily compromised by external factors:
- Incorrect use of cosmetic products.
- Complicated skincare routines resulting in overuse of cosmetic products.
- Over-cleansing your skin.
- Using face wipes to cleanse your skin.
- Environmental aggressors e.g., low humidity, pollution, air conditioning.
- Cleansing your skin with hot water.
- Extended exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
- Products with a low or high pH compared to your skin.
- Over-exfoliating your skin.
- History of long-term natural or artificial sun exposure.
- Fat-free diet.
- Poor nutrition.
- Medication e.g., diuretics, Roaccutane, antibiotics, cold and flu, and sinus medication.
- An impaired lymphatic system.
- Dehydration from excessive sweating, losing fluids due to illness like diarrhoea or vomiting, fever, sunburn.
- Neglecting to use a moisturiser.
- Genetic factors, some skin types are naturally more susceptible to a compromised skin barrier.
10 things you can do to fix your skin barrier
It may take some time for your skin barrier to repair itself, between a couple of weeks and a month, depending on the extent of the damage. Consistency and patience are key.
1. The quickest way to repair your skin barrier is by simplifying your skincare routine. Go back to basics. The more products you use, the more prone your skin is to irritation and inflammation.
2. Avoid potential irritants like harsh soaps and cleansers, abrasive scrubs, alcohol-based products, high-concentration chemical exfoliants, or products that sting on their application, or leave your skin feeling, dry and irritated.
3. Swap your morning wash for a cleansing balm or hydrating toner.
4. Wash your skin with warm, not hot, water. Hot water disrupts your skin’s barrier function leaving it vulnerable and more susceptible to dryness and irritation.
5. Apply your moisturiser to damp skin immediately after cleansing to trap in the moisture.
Our SOOTHE AND REPAIR DAILY MOISTURISER locks in moisture to hydrate and nourish your skin after cleansing. It is enriched with skin-loving botanicals and antioxidants to feed and protect your skin from external elements. It contains glycerine, a humectant that keeps your skin hydrated by holding onto water and slowing it from evaporating, to aid in the repair of a compromised skin barrier.
Its high percentage of emollients (fatty alcohols), occlusives (shea butter), and natural lipid-mimicking oils (apricot kernel oil, arctic oat oil, prickly pear seed oil) help support a damaged skin barrier.
6. Avoid exfoliating products for a few weeks. Slowly reintroduce them into your routine once your skin has fully recovered. Exfoliate with care and experiment with the frequency to check your skin's tolerance.
7. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun every day.
8. An impaired skin barrier has reduced lipids that are imperative to your skin’s health. By adding nourishing oils to your routine, you can help regulate your skin’s natural oil production and repair your skin barrier.
Our MIDNIGHT BEAUTY RICH REVITALISING SERUM is a blend of 10 of nature’s most valuable plant oils that penetrate deeply to nourish, hold in moisture, and protect your skin.
9. If you live or work in an area with low humidity, invest in a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air. Humidity acts as a natural moisturising agent that may benefit a compromised skin barrier.
10. Feed your skin from within. Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and plant oils.
Are you struggling with an impaired skin barrier? Try our tips above and let us know how you get along! We’re always here to help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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