Welcome to this guide on your skin's first line of defence – the skin barrier. This outer layer shields against environmental threats and keeps your skin hydrated. But it faces challenges like pollution, UV radiation, harsh cleansing, and stress. In this brief guide, learn about signs of a weakened barrier and simple steps to protect and restore it.
We'll cover pH basics, the benefits of plant oils, and practical tips beyond skincare. Stick with us as we break down the essentials for resilient skin health, giving you the straightforward know-how to maintain a strong and healthy skin barrier.
What is your skin barrier, and what purpose does it serve?
Your skin barrier is the outermost layer called the stratum corneum, resembling a brick wall.
It consists of corneocytes bound by lipids containing cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.
The skin barrier prevents harmful environmental toxins and pathogens from entering your body and maintains water balance.
If the barrier function is disrupted, the skin becomes like a leaky bucket, which makes it extremely hard to keep the skin optimally hydrated.
What can damage your skin barrier?
Environmental factors, such as pollution and UV radiation, along with harsh cleansing, over-exfoliation, stress, and certain medications, can compromise the integrity of your skin barrier. These elements may lead to oxidative stress, lipid depletion, and inflammation, weakening the protective outer layer of your skin. Awareness of these potential threats allows for a proactive approach in choosing skincare practices that preserve and strengthen your skin barrier.
Signs of skin barrier damage
- Dry, scaly skin
- Rough or discoloured patches
- Sensitive or inflamed areas
- Increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
Protecting and Restoring Your Skin Barrier
Change your skincare routine:
Use products which don’t contain harsh chemicals or synthetic ingredients.
Use a soft cloth and gentle, enzymatic exfoliants for sensitive skin.
Pay attention to pH:
Your skin's pH is around 4.7; choose products with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0.
Balanced pH helps protect against dermatitis, ichthyosis, acne, and fungal infections.
Try plant oils to replenish your skin barrier:
Jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil, and others may repair and prevent moisture loss. Apply oils directly or choose products containing these oils.
Look for formulations with ceramides:
Ceramides, found in high concentrations in the stratum corneum, are essential for a functional skin barrier. Products containing ceramides can improve dryness, itchiness, and scaling.
Use moisturisers with hyaluronic acid:
Humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, draw and bind water to the skin.
Protect from UV Radiation:
Sun exposure can damage the skin barrier. Incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and reapply it every two hours.
Proper hydration is crucial for skin health. Drinking an adequate amount of water helps maintain skin elasticity and supports the natural functions of the skin barrier.
What you eat directly affects your skin. Include foods rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts can contribute to a healthy lipid barrier.
Chronic stress can take a toll on your skin. Practice stress-management techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to promote overall well-being, which reflects positively on your skin barrier.
Quality sleep is essential for skin repair and regeneration. Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress levels, impacting your skin barrier's ability to function optimally. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
By incorporating these skincare and lifestyle habits into your routine, you can further enhance the resilience of your skin barrier and promote overall skin health. Remember that consistency is key, and patience is essential when it comes to restoring and maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
Which products can help protect your skin barrier?
Argan Skin Rescue is formulated with Vitamin C, Argan Oil, Abyssinian Oil, Bisabolol, Ginger and Orange Oil to deal with the symptoms of a damaged lipid layer. ideal for anyone whose skincare has ‘plateaued’ and is no longer working, this nourishing facial oil soothes stressed skin and repairs the lipid layer, as well as improving the appearance of scars, blemishes and pigmentation. Vitamin C protects collagen to boost suppleness and elasticity.
This lightweight essence provides an intensive boost of hydration and delivers the perfect layer of moisture after cleansing and toning to soften and prepare the skin for the next steps of your skincare routine. With a moisture-boosting blend of Hyaluronic Acid, Trehalose that mimics the skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF) and Ceramides, which help repair the skin barrier, and increase moisture levels, reducing skin dryness and soothing the skin.
Your skin barrier plays a vital role in protecting the skin against environmental threats and maintaining water balance.
Symptoms like dryness, itching, and inflammation indicate a disrupted barrier.
Repair your skin's barrier by changing your skincare, using pH-appropriate products, and choosing moisturisers with ceramides or plant-based humectants.