Your skin barrier is a watertight seal that keeps the outermost layers of skin smooth and in good health. When these outer layers are healthy, your skin feels soft and plump. In the case that they are damaged, it leads to water loss and skin becoming more vulnerable to all external aggressors. This is why a damaged skin barrier results in dry and lifeless skin.
The skin barrier has several jobs: Protecting your body from external stressors like pollution and UV radiation, retaining water to keep your body and skin hydrated, and transporting vital nutrients to your skin. When you over exfoliate or expose your skin to acids more often than you should, your skin barrier is compromised.
Picture the skin barrier as a brick and mortar structure. The brick being our skin cells and the mortar is the lipid layer (ceramides, fatty acids) that helps keep the skin cells intact. These components work like the first-line guard for our skin to keep it functioning normally.
Factors that damage your skin barrier
- Over cleansing and exfoliating your skin
- Using water that’s too hot
- Potentially irritating ingredients including SLS, fragrance or silicones
- Using highly concentrated actives like Vitamin C or retinoids before you’ve built up tolerance
- Using too many products or changing your routine often
- Intense exfoliation and excessive use of skin peels
- Air pollution
- Stress or lack of sleep
How to exfoliate right
Forgo scrubs and rough buffing tools, and use a chemical exfoliant instead. A lactic acid-based cleanser with soothing and antioxidant-rich ingredients is a good place to start. Start with a gentle formula and work your way towards something more potent. If you feel a burning sensation, the product is too strong for your current tolerance level. If you feel like your skin is severely dehydrated and feels sensitive and damaged, stay away from exfoliants altogether.
Check Out Skin exfoliant from RAS
How to identify if your skin barrier is compromised
When your skin barrier is healthy, your skin generally looks plump and smooth and feels soft to the touch. When you notice any of the following, there are high chances that your skin barrier is compromised:
- Dryness (lack of oil)
- Dehydration (lack of water)
- Reactions to products
- Increased breakouts
How to protect and build your skin barrier
For effective skin barrier repair, you first need to protect your skin by reducing its exposure to external irritants. This means wearing sunscreen daily, avoiding hot water in the shower, and cutting down on exfoliation. We also recommend cutting back on (or eliminating) alcohol consumption and smoking and catching up on proper sleep. Take an extra gentle approach, opting for the mildest products that still do the job.
Ingredients to avoid:
- Vitamin C
- Exfoliants (chemical or physical)
- Essential oils
- Harsh topical medication like prescription benzoyl peroxide for acne
- Drying alcohols
Ingredients to look for:
- Hyaluronic acid
- High-quality SPF to protect against damaging UV rays
- Botanical oils with high fatty acid content like rosehip and jojoba
Check Out Skin Repairing Face Serum from RAS