Functions of the Skin Barrier & How to Strengthen It
We often hear about essence, emulsions and creams that strengthen and protect the skin barrier. To achieve good skin, it’s in your favor to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Doing so, you’ll need to keep your skin moisturized and restore the lipid matrix that holds the skin cells together.
What is the skin barrier exactly?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis and it functions to prevent environmental irritants and bacteria from permeating into the skin. To achieve good skin, it’s in your favor to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Acting as a guard on the surface, the skin barrier is extremely delicate and prone to skin damage. It is made up of lipids in the form of ceramides and fatty acids, and our body produces less of these as we age.
What causes harm to the skin barrier?
Other than loss of lipids with age, our skin barrier is damaged by
- UV rays
- harsh skincare ingredients
When the skin barrier is disrupted, it will result in a loss of moisture from the microscopic cracks that occur on the outer skin layer. The number of products we use, the frequency we use them, and the ingredients in our skincare regime can also be affecting our skin barrier negatively. You want to make sure none of the ingredients you’re using are too harsh or stripping your skin of it’s natural oil and good bacteria. Over-exfoliating and over-cleansing are common skincare steps where the skin barrier can be weakened.
Steps to strengthen the skin barrier
There are two ways you can protect and maintain a healthy skin barrier; to prevent and repair. Adjust your skincare routine by switching out harsh cleansers that strip off your skin’s natural oil and make the skin feel dry. Instead, use a cleanser that has hyaluronic acid for moisture replenishment. The same goes for picking toners, look for hydrating ingredients, antioxidants, and low pH options. To avoid skin damage from UV rays, it’s important to put on sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day. Repair the skin barrier by layering it with lipids that stimulate growth to rebuild a weakened skin barrier. The best form of lipid to provide your skin is Ceramide. Ceramides are naturally found lipid molecules made up of fatty acid that locks moisture and makes up the outermost layer of the skin. Products like Dr Jart’s Ceramidin Cream and The Face Shop’s Rice & Ceramide Moisturizing Toner nourishes the skin while rebuilding the skin barrier to retain moisture.
Strengthening a weakened skin barrier is possible with a few tweaks to your skincare products and understanding what ingredients rebuild it. Stay away from products that dry and strip, and incorporate products that supply the skin with moisture and lipids that stimulate cell growth.