What is the Skin Barrier? …And Why Do I Care?
You should care because the skin barrier is the greatest defense you have against all the potential aggressors. Our skin puts up a tough act against the world. Especially now with the increasing pollution, poor diets, and more stress than ever it can be tough to keep our skin in a healthful condition.
So what is it that’s doing the heavy lifting to keep your skin smooth? A little something called your skin barrier.
What is the Skin Barrier?
If you’ve never heard of a skin barrier it’s simply the outer most layer of skin. It’s made up of lipids and skin cells that act as a barrier to protect against pollution, UV rays, or toxins, among many other substances. Its essential function is to keep the moisture in and the bad stuff out. That is, when it’s functioning properly.
When the skin barrier is compromised it no longer can keep harmful bacteria, microorganisms, or chemicals out, paving a path to inflammation or irritated skin.
If it’s not working at an optimal level your skin may become dull and dry, overly sensitive or develop red patches.
A common symptom of a damaged skin barrier is contact dermatitis. It is an allergic reaction or rash to substances your skin is coming in contact with. It could be caused by metals, fragrances, soaps, or cosmetics. It isn’t life-threatening but it can be awfully uncomfortable.
If products that you traditionally used have begun to sting or cause redness, it could be a sign that your skin barrier is struggling. This can be presented in symptoms such as acne, rosacea, aging and dry skin, or inflammation.
Things we do that mess it up
- Over exfoliating/using too many active ingredients– A good exfoliation is some that we love at Perfect Image. But we also know that too much of a good thing can wreak havoc on your skin. When you exfoliate too much you don’t give your skin the appropriate time to heal and you can compromise its ability to block toxins. Additionally, using too many strong products together can over-sensitize the skin and cause inflammation, redness, or breakouts.
- No SPF– UV is one of the biggest damaging factors to the skin if overexposed. A little bit of sun is great, but a lot of sun can lead to damaged and overly dried skin.
- Nutrition– Too much alcohol and caffeine and not enough water can parch your skin and lead to dryness and unhealthy skin.
- Over-washing- Cleansing your face too often, with to harsh of soaps can be very damaging to the moisture levels in your skin. An adequate amount of oil is necessary to keep the skin barrier healthy
And how do I protect it? products/techniques
If your skin barrier has been damaged it’s time to get back to basics with your skincare routine.
Look for ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, or lipids. You want products that work as an occlusive, which helps to trap moisture into the skin by forming a thick, protective layer.
Be gentle with your skin. Wash and dry your face without tugging or pulling the skin. Avoid frequent use of harsh cleansers or exfoliants. You can gently exfoliate twice a week to promote cellular rejuvenation, but make sure you are not stripping your skin excessively. Moisturizing is key to repairing your skin.
If there has been severe skin damage or the problems are coming from an underlying skin disease then it is best to consult a dermatologist to examine your options.