skin barrier 101
What once was a niche skincare topic has now become mainstream in beauty, racking up 2.5bn views on tiktok. Today there is a huge amount of information, tips and advice out there on how to care for and repair your skin barrier.
But why are consumers now suddenly interested in their skin barrier? One of the leading factors is the increase in concern over sensitised skin driven by overuse and misuse of potent actives, as well as environmental aggressors causing damage to our skin barrier and sensitising skin.
WHY IS THE SKIN BARRIER IMPORTANT?
Skin is our body's largest organ and at ClearSkinDays, we have always believed that our skin function is the foundation of a clear, healthy complexion, to which a strong skin barrier is paramount. Without this, the skin is susceptible to extremes in blemishes, dryness, sensitivity, and no number of products you apply will fix these issues if the skin isn’t functioning properly. It’s like taking a multivitamin while having a junk food diet – this won’t make your gut healthy, and our skin is no different!
So as the skin barrier is key to skin success, we want to provide a simple explanation of what it is, why it is important, and how to care for it.
what is the skin barrier?
Our skin barrier is in the outermost level of our skin, within the Stratum Corneum in the Epidermis, it’s the bodies first line of defence & helps to keep the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out. It has two key roles:
- Protection - Internally regulates water loss and retains moisture.
- Hydration - Externally shields from external aggressors such as bacteria, chemicals, pollutants, irritants & UV.
layers of the skin barrier
Contained in the skin barrier are 3 main layers:
The Lipid barrier, which is protected by our Acid Mantle and above this is our Microbiome. They all work together to keep us healthy:
- Microbiome - The skin microbiome is the billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that comprise the skin microbiota. The natural bacteria maintains the skin’s immunity and prevents pathogenic growth
- Acid mantle - The Hydrolipidic film on the skin's surface made from sweat and sebum that has a pH of around 5.5. It's acidic nature acts as barrier to unwanted bacteria. It also supports a balanced microbiome and locks in hydration
- Lipid barrier - Composed of Ceramides, Cholesterol & Free Fatty Acids, it supports the skin barrier function by reducing Trans-Epidermal Water Loss and protects from external chemicals, pollutants, irritants & UV
A DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER
You may have seen products designed to repair the skin barrier, but what does this mean when our skin barrier is compromised? Here is what happens when our barrier isn't working properly:
- Cracks and gaps in the Lipid Matrix let through irritants, such as bacteria, that causes breakouts whilst also letting water out, leading to dehydrated skin
- A disrupted microbiome will cause an imbalance between the beneficial and harmful bacteria which will lead to skin concerns such as acne and rosacea
- An imbalanced pH can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, leading to skin irritations, such acne & dryness
is your skin barrier damaged?
The main signs of a damaged skin barrier is skin that looks and feels:
1. Very dry and dehydrated
2. Sensitive, inflamed and itchy
3. Has redness, rashes and breakouts
how to prevent skin barrier damage
Now that we understand the importance of our skin barrier, here are our top tips of how to care for it:
1. Avoid over-washing & use mild cleansers with lukewarm water
2. Don't over do it with active ingredients such as AHA, BHA & Retinol
3. Protect skin with SPF, antioxidants and anti-pollutants
4. Hydrate continuously to help skin maintain moisture
5. Used pH balanced products to avoid inflammation and irritation
6. Incorporate pre, pro and post biotics into your regime to support a healthy microbiome
GET IN TOUCH
We hope that you've found this blog helpful - if you have any questions or would like to share your skincare journey with us, we'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch via the form below or by DM on IG.