All you need to know about SKIN BARRIER
All the products we use on ourselves work on the outermost layer of our skin known as the skin barrier. The skin barrier not only protects you against environmental threats but at the same time serves a crucial role in keeping the water balance of your body.
Dryness and itching can be a sign of a disturbed Skin barrier.
You can help repair your skin’s barrier by simplifying your skin care regime, using products with a suitable pH, and using a moisturizer that contains ceramides or properties that nourishes and keep your skin hydrated.
What’s your skin barrier and what purpose does it serve?
Your skin is made up of layers, each of which performs important functions in protecting your body.
The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum is often described as a brick. It consists of tough skin cells called corneocytes that are bound together by mortar-like lipids. This is your skin barrier.
Inside the skin cells, or “bricks,” you’ll find keratin and natural moisturizers. The lipid layer contains cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.
This fantastically thin brick wall is literally keeping you alive. Without it, all sorts of harmful environmental toxins and pathogens could penetrate your skin and wreak havoc in your body.
Additionally, without your skin barrier, the water inside your body would escape and evaporate, leaving you completely dehydrated.
Your skin barrier is essential for good health and needs to be protected in order to function properly.
What can damage your skin barrier?
Some of the external and internal conditions that can affect your skin barrier include:
- Humid or dry weather
- Over cleansing or Over Exfoliation
- Allergens, irritants, and pollutants
- Sun exposure
- Alkaline detergents and soaps
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
- Genetic factors that may make you more prone to certain skin conditions like Atope Dermatitis or Psoriasis
The role of the acid mantle
Your skin barrier is slightly acidic. This acidity (the acid mantle) helps to guard against the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi that could damage your skin and lead to infections and other skin conditions.
It’s especially important to protect the acid mantle around wounds, since the skin’s acidity is necessary for many of the biological interactions in the healing process.
Sometimes, a health condition such as diabetes or incontinence can change the acidity of your skin, weakening this buffer. For people with these conditions, experts suggest slightly more acidic skin care products.
How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged?
When your skin barrier isn’t functioning properly, you may be more prone to these issues.
- Dry or Scaly skin
- Rough or uneven patches
- Sensitive or inflamed areas
- Fungal, viral or bacterial skin infections.
How to protect and restore your skin barrier
Simplify your skin care routine
If you have been hoarding on a lot of skin products, you might want to give up on a few and stick to some very basic to be more gentle on your skin.
If you are exfoliating using harsh products and have a sensitive skin and darker skin tones, you may want to use a soft cloth and a mild chemical exfoliant.
Some types of scrubs and brushes may temporarily damage your skin barrier.
Pay attention to pH
Your skin’s delicate acid mantle hovers around a pH of 5.7. But the pH of some skin products can range from 3.7, all the way up to 8.2.
Researchers recommend cleansing with a product that’s close to your skin’s natural PH.
Keeping your skin’s pH at a healthy level may help protect you from skin conditions such as dermatitis, ichthyoids acne, and other infections. Although not all products list their pH, some do.
Try a plant oil to replenish your skin barrier
Research shows that certain plant oils may help repair the skin barrier and also prevent your skin barrier from losing moisture. Many of these oils have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, too.
Some of the most effective plant oils to use on your skin include:
- Jojoba oil
- Argan Oil
- Prickly Pear Seed Oil
- Rosehip Seed Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
There are many ways you can use plant oils on your skin. You can apply creams and lotions that contain one or more of these oils as an ingredient. Or, you can pour a small amount of the oil into the palm of your hand and then massage it gently into your skin until it’s absorbed.
Organic Argan Oil: Due to having high levels of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids (oleic acid and linoleic acid), Argan oil nourishes by penetrating the skin to boost moisture and activate natural lipids (fats) to protect the skin barrier.
The constitution of prickly pear seed oil's essential and non-essential fatty acids (EFAs) are worth delving into a bit further: 60.5% linoleic acid – An omega-6 EFA, linoleic acid at once nourishes and repairs. Linoleic acid strengthens our skin's barrier, allowing it to better retain moisture.
Look for formulations that include ceramides
Ceramides are waxy lipids found in especially high concentrations in the stratum corneum. They are crucial for the healthy functioning of your skin barrier.
Research shows that products containing pseudo-ceramides may help improve the dryness, itchiness, and scaling caused by a poorly functioning barrier. Ceramide-rich moisturizers may also strengthen the structure of your skin barrier.
Ceramide moisturizers may be especially helpful if you have acne. In acne-prone skin, the barrier is often impaired, and acne treatments can leave skin dry and reddened. Products containing ceramides may also help protect darker skin, which has shown contain lower ceramide levels.
HOW TO USE
Gently apply moisturizer and a hydrating lightweight beauty oil folllowing that to your skin immediately after you get out of the shower, when your skin is moist to lock the hydration your skin needs.