WHAT IS YOUR SKIN BARRIER (AND IS IT DAMAGED )?
The top layer of your skin is known as the skin barrier, which is also known as the "moisture barrier". The acid mantle is a crucial component of your skin barrier. This is a thin, slightly-acidic coating on the surface of your skin (made up of natural oils, amino acids, and perspiration) that protects it from germs, viruses, and other pollutants. With a healthy skin barrier, irritants are kept out, while natural oils and moisture are kept in. Unfortunately, a poor skin barrier does not operate as a barrier at all; instead, it allows irritants to infiltrate your skin, weakening it and preventing it from working correctly to keep your skin healthy. This may present as dry, red skin. Most commonly, you'll have flaking and overall discomfort, especially when the seasons change.
WHAT IS A DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER?
When the skin barrier is compromised, the lipid matrix — your skin’s mortar — loses its tensile strength, resulting in cracks and gaps. It does a poor job of keeping irritants or germs out of the skin, and it fails to prevent loss of moisture. External invaders may induce inflammation in addition to making skin dry and dehydrated. You may have a damaged skin barrier if you've ever seen your skin become irritated, flaky, sensitive, or dry seemingly out of nowhere. Acne or a rash are also possible side effects. Yikes!
FACTORS THAT CAN LEAD TO A DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER
A damaged skin barrier can result from a variety of factors. To start, there are some internal factors that can be sneaky culprits:
Unfortunately, your genetics may lead to disorders like atopic dermatitis, often known as eczema, which is an inflammatory skin condition accompanied by a compromised skin barrier. This prevents it from working correctly, leaving skin dry and susceptible to infection.
Because your ability to make oil diminishes with age, aging is also a factor. As you age, it becomes more difficult for your body to restore the lipids that are so important to the skin barrier's health.
External factors (essentially self-sabotage) also come into play.
Too Much Cleansing
Over-cleansing is a common culprit. You can deprive the skin of its natural oils if you cleanse too frequently, or with harsh substances. Your skin barrier's lipid matrix may be harmed as a result.
Exfoliating Too Much
Over-exfoliation is the more severe counterpart to over-cleansing, in which you exfoliate too frequently or with ingredients that are too abrasive. Chemical exfoliants are great at eliminating dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, but if the concentration is too high they might harm the live, healthy cells in your skin barrier.
Lastly, there's the matter of the environment itself. Yep, Mother Nature (or trying to go against her) are to blame here.
The skin barrier can be drained of moisture by dry air in the winter or by interior air management (such as your air conditioner or heating system).
Furthermore, anything that causes the release of free radicals, such as sunshine and pollution, might compromise the skin barrier's integrity. For the uninitiated, free radicals are unstable chemicals that wreak havoc on skin by destroying cells, lipids, collagen, and even DNA, eventually speeding up the ageing process.
HOW TO TREAT A DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER
First, examine your skincare routine to see whether your skin requires a break. This is where your skin type comes into play: if you have oily skin, cleansing in the morning and at night may be sufficient. If you have dry skin, though, you might be better off cleaning solely at night and sprinkling water on your face in the morning.
Cleanse your skin using a gentle, pollution-fighting mask (like our 05 Marine Algae Repairing Mask). Because urban settings harm the skin, it's critical to get rid of all traces of pollution. It's also crucial to safeguard the natural ceramides (long chain fatty acids that help lock in moisture) and lipids that hold your skin's barrier together. The optimum mask eliminates makeup, microscopic particles of pollutants, and debris from the skin without depleting it of its natural oils.
Inflammation should be treated. When the skin is inflamed, almost everything will aggravate that inflammation. Every day, check in with your skin. When your skin is feeling sensitive, avoid exfoliating actively** and instead use a soothing serum or moisturiser. For more severe inflammation, such as rosacea or eczema, visit a board-certified dermatologist for treatment.
Finally, a strong defense is the best defense. It's a lot easier to avoid a broken moisture barrier in the first place than it is to repair one that has already been compromised. UV exposure causes free radical activity on the skin, which destroys the lipids in your skin barrier. Sunscreen is the obvious winner here. It will assist you in avoiding a damaged skin barrier, which is your primary aim.
There you have it: a quick guide to the skin barrier and ways you’re (accidentally) damaging it. To improve your skin, be sure to check out our all-natural product line, and kickstart some skin barrier TLC today.