Your skin barrier is your body's first line of defense against environmental stressors, pollutants, and the rigors of daily life. However, it's not uncommon for this protective shield to become compromised, leading to issues like dryness, sensitivity, and irritation.
In this article, we'll delve into the expert-backed techniques and insights that dermatologists recommend for repairing and rejuvenating your skin barrier.
Get ready to welcome a radiant, resilient complexion as we explore the art and science of skin barrier repair!
What is skin barrier and how does it work?
Before we discuss how to repair the skin barrier, we must first understand what it is and how does it function.
The skin barrier or "stratum corneum" is located at the outermost layer of the skin - epidermis. Its main function is to serve as a protective barrier that shields the body from external threats such as pathogens, chemicals, and environmental factors.
It acts as a formidable defense against dehydration by preventing excessive water loss and maintaining optimal hydration levels within the body. Additionally, it plays a pivotal role in regulating temperature, preventing the entry of harmful microorganisms, and protecting against the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Simply said, having a healthy skin barrier is crucial to maintain overall skin health, as a damaged skin barrier can result to dryness, inflammation and increased risk to infection.
What damages the skin barrier?
Several factors can contribute to the weakening or damage of the skin barrier, leading to various skin concerns. These include:
- Harsh weather conditions, such as extreme temperatures, wind, and low humidity, can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the barrier.
- Exposure to pollution and environmental toxins can contribute to oxidative stress, impacting the skin barrier.
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the skin barrier, leading to dehydration and increased vulnerability to external aggressors.
Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
- Smoking and poor dietary habits can negatively impact skin health, affecting the skin barrier's ability to function optimally.
Stress and Lack of Sleep
- Chronic stress and insufficient sleep can contribute to skin barrier impairment, as these factors may disrupt the body's natural repair processes.
Underlying Medical Conditions:
- Certain medical conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis, can compromise the skin barrier and contribute to its dysfunction.
- Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to a weaker skin barrier, making them more susceptible to damage and various skin concerns.
How to repair skin barrier
Repairing a compromised skin barrier is essential for restoring skin health and preventing issues like dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation. Below are some tips from experts on how to repair damaged skin.
Identify the signs
The first step in repairing a damaged skin barrier is recognizing the problem. According to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Zubritsky, dryness, redness and irritation are telltale signs. There may also be stinging or burning sensation when you apply skincare products. If you have existing skin problems like eczema or rosacea, it may also worsen.
Be gentle with your skin
While exfoliating can help unclog pores and remove dead skin cells, too much scrubbing can harm the skin. Dr. Mary Lupo recommends using "enzymatic exfoliation", or exfoliating using enzymes derived from fruit. Using a moisturizer afterwards is also a must, as the process can dry the skin.
On the other hand, Dr. Debra Jaliman says mild cleansers are key, especially those containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin or ceramides. Topicrem's Gentle Cleansing Gel is a good example of a cleanser that is not harsh to the skin, as it is soap-free and has 5% glycerin to preserve the skin barrier.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Besides the right skincare products, our diet also plays a role when it comes to the skin's health. Facialists Shane Cooper and Sarah Champan say foods like nuts, fish and fruits, as well as omega oil can boost the skin's resilience.
Strengthen your skin barrier
One of the ways that keeps the skin barrier strong is avoiding triggers. You can try simplifying your skincare routine, as excessive use of active ingredients can impair your epidermal function. Constantly changing products is a big no-no too. Dr. Macrene Alexiades' tip is to change one product at a time.
Meanwhile, Dr. Howard Murad suggests to look for products with ingredients that support the microbiome, such as probiotics, oats and ceramides.
Uriage Bariederm Cica Daily Serum and Gel Cream is a dynamic duo designed for powerful skin repair. Packed with Uriage Thermal Water and inulin prebiotics, this formula is a go-to solution for rebalancing the microbiome and strengthen the skin barrier. The formula contains Centella Asiatica or Cica to repair the skin and boost healing, as well as Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate and plump the skin.
Restoring a damaged skin barrier is a holistic process that involves adopting a mindful and nurturing skincare routine. Recognizing the factors that contribute to barrier damage is the first step toward recovery.
By implementing these tips and adopting a proactive and preventative mindset, individuals can not only repair a compromised skin barrier but also nurture long-term skin resilience.