It’s no overstatement to say that the skin barrier – often also referred to as the ‘moisture barrier’ or ‘lipid barrier’ – is the unsung hero of healthy-looking skin: it works as a protective layer, keeping hydration in and irritants out. If you have sensitive skin, you may be more familiar with the skin barrier than you even knew already, since (we’re sorry to say) it might be compromised. But never fear: fixing a damaged skin barrier is a straightforward process.
Here are answers to some of our most-asked skin barrier questions!
So, what is the skin barrier?
Your skin’s lipid barrier is the outer layer of cells that helps to form a protective layer between you and the world. It can be useful to think of the skin barrier as a brick wall. The lipids – which comprise a blend of fatty acids, ceramides, and other nutrients called skin’s Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) – are the “mortar” between your skin’s cells, or “bricks.”
Why is skin’s moisture barrier important?
The skin barrier helps protect the skin by keeping water in and pollutants out. A healthy skin barrier takes on three essential jobs:
- It helps protect your body from external stressors (like pollution and UV radiation)
- It retains water, which helps keep your skin hydrated
- It transports nutrients to your skin
When skin’s barrier is strong, it prevents excess water loss (a.k.a. dehydration) and keeps out external aggressors like UV radiation, heat, cold, and environmental irritants. When skin’s barrier is compromised, or damaged, it’s unable to effectively perform these tasks – and you’ll know it!
What are the signs of a damaged skin barrier?
The first warning sign of a damaged skin barrier is dehydration. This can result in symptoms like redness, itching, and flaky skin. Your skin may also become more reactive, and may feel especially sensitive to heat, cold, dry air, or certain skin care products.
What causes skin’s barrier to become compromised?
Unfortunately, many factors can cause damage to the skin barrier. Here are some of the most common triggers:
- Genetics play a role: people with chronically dry skin often naturally lack a strong lipid barrier.
Ageing depletes skin’s natural lipids over time.
Seasonal changes in temperature, humidity, and environmental irritants can result in decreased lipids.
Over-exfoliating or using harsh skin care ingredients can strip lipids from the skin.
UV exposure, stress, and certain health conditions can damage skin’s barrier or cause it to recover more slowly.
How can I fix a damaged skin barrier?The fastest way to fix a damaged lipid barrier is to act right away! As soon as you realise your dryness and irritation are signs of a compromised barrier, take the following steps:
Stop using any products that are causing your skin to feel irritated or sensitive.
Avoid physical exfoliants until skin feels healthy again.
Look for ingredients that will soothe your skin and help support a healthy barrier – like ceramides, oats, plant oils, and Hyaluronic Acid.
Hydrate! Moisturise whenever skin begins to feel dehydrated.
How can I keep skin’s moisture barrier healthy?
When it comes to maintaining a healthy skin barrier, prevention is the best medicine. Hydration is key here, in general, it's important to do two things: keep your skincare regimen simple and make sure it includes a routine that works for your skin and use them every day. Finally, avoid irritants: over-exfoliating or using certain skin care ingredients (like alcohol or acetone) that are potential triggers.
- Hyaluronic Ceramide Mist: helps to smooth fine lines and strengthen skin’s barrier. Skin-nourishing, hydration-rich mist utilises four types of Hyaluronic Acid, helping skin hold on to water for long-lasting hydration. Moisture barrier-boosting Hyaluronic Acid and ceramide formula helps smooth the appearance of fine lines, sealing in hydration for supple skin that bounces back from stress.
- Stabilizing Repair Cream: its balmy-cream formula melts into skin to give it stability, relief, and a chance to recover from sensitivity. It also features a Ceramide-Building Complex that provides nourishing lipids, strengthening skin’s barrier to lock in moisture and help keep signs of sensitivity at bay.
For personalised advice on treating your skin and restoring healthy skin, book a digital consultation with facemapping with one of our Professional Skin Therapists here.