Here’s your skin barrier repair cheat sheet.
Your shield, your armour if you will, the skin is our body’s largest organ. Our skin works to constantly protect us from harmful aggressors, and other external stressors. The skin barrier a.k.a. the outermost layer of the skin a.k.a the stratum corneum aims to protect us whilst keeping the skin plump and rejuvenated.
The skin barrier comprises three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous fat.
The Epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin; the dermis is the middle layer of the skin that contains collagen, and elastin, and consists of the skin’s nerve and blood supply; and finally, the subcutaneous fat which is the third layer, forms a barrier between skin and muscle.
Now, when you hear the term barrier repair a buzzword that’s been thrown around quite a bit in the skincare world, you know what your skin barrier looks like.
How does skin damage occur?
Skin damage occurs as a result of harsh climate, pollution, stress, excess skin exfoliation, allergens in your products, and the like. Repairing skin damage is a journey, starting with protecting your skin and nourishing it, to lifestyle changes as well.
With skin, identifying signs of damage in their early stages is key this will allow you to optimize your routine for repair and prevention of further damage.
When your skin looks dull and dry, or you see a breakout or just a loss of general glow, this serves as an indicator to re-look at your routine and your lifestyle. After all, anything you do reflects on your skin first, too much time in front of a screen, for instance, without proper application of sunscreen will expose your skin to unwanted UV, while lack of sleep will give you dull and tired skin. We always say your skin is your armour, treat it to the best. Good quality skincare products, be it plant-based, or natural skin care always delivers lasting results, coupled with lifestyle tweaks and you’ll see an immediate enhancement in your skin. You will glow, and your skin will thank you.
Another very damaging process that is heavily discussed by dermatologists in multiple reports is the over usage of a single ingredient in different steps of your routine. How can one do this? Well, if salicylic acid is present in your cleanser, in your exfoliant, and or serum, and you use it all at the same time, morning and evening, you may be overdoing it.
Another immediate stressor is scrubbing your face too hard and using ingredients with alcohol, or fragrance which can lead to an impaired barrier, rosacea, or even acne.
Stacking water in your skin is the barrier’s primary role as it helps maintain its dewy and bouncy status. As a first line of defense, the moisture barrier or stratum corneum looks after the skin’s protection by only keeping all things nourished in and eliminating the negatives. A healthy stratum corneum will consist of natural ceramides thus keeping the epidermal cells packed tightly preventing water loss. If the barrier is compromised, it enables existing moisture between your skin cells to escape, thus allowing bacteria to enter. Moreover, some more signs like the ones below are known to be the highlighted reasons for skin damage:
Signs that damage the skin barrier one cause at a time:
Exposure to Sunlight: Sun damage for instance, and consistent exposure to sunlight cause grave damage to the skin barrier. It aids in skin peeling, sunburns, and extreme skin sensitivity leading to the degeneration of the skin barrier due to UV rays. These rays penetrate deep within the layers of the skin and break the protein bond between skin cells making them weaker.
Repair: Invest in a good quality broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Apply thoroughly on the face and the neck, and then reapply again every 2-3 hours. Additionally, carry an umbrella, cap, and or hat, whenever possible for utmost skin protection.
Over-exfoliation: The skin’s surface comprises both, essential oils and fats, and dead skin cells. When you use an exfoliant it benefits the skin if used one-two times a week. Anything over and above this can strip the skin of its natural moisture levels leading to redness, inflammation, increased breakouts, or even flaking.
Repair: Give your skin a break. Try skin cycling it will give your skin that reset it needs!
Makeup: Applying makeup is great, however, sleeping without thoroughly double cleansing the skin and not adhering to a proper skincare routine could over time lead to an impaired barrier. Some products consist of harsh chemicals which impact the quality of the skin, not having a proper cleansing routine after makeup application can lead to clogged pores, allergic reactions, redness, and breakouts, as this affects the main layer of the skin - The Stratum Corneum.
Repair: Never skip double cleansing, treatment serums, and moisturizers after makeup as these help in keeping the skin barrier nourished and hydrated.
Hot water: Notice how your fingers look wrinkled after washing them with hot water over time. That’s a sign of moisture loss, and the same logic applies to your skin. Long exposure to water, especially hot water leads to changes in the stratum corneum as a result of water loss and damaged skin cells. This leads to an increased dependency on hydration from external sources or products. A compromised skin barrier also makes it easy for allergens and irritants to penetrate deep within the skin.
Repair: Limit your hot water showers. Gradually make a shift from lukewarm to room temperature or cold water. Moisturize with hydrating serums and creams after your shower on damp skin for best results.