One thing that you’ll hear often in the skincare industry is about how to protect your skin barrier to reduce free radical damage. It’s a concept that isn’t often explained whether it’s the risk of a damaged skin barrier or how to protect it. Your skin barrier protects against everything from dryness to UV radiation and free radicals. How do you protect your skin barrier and strengthen it?
If you’re a fan of using AHAs and BHAs, you may be over exfoliating and damaging your skin’s barrier without realizing it. Over-exfoliating is one of the most common mistakes people make with their skincare routine, often not realizing the damage they’re causing their skin barrier.
The topic of our skin barrier has become more popular on social media due to the rise of issues like maskne. We’re taking an in-depth look at what your skin’s barrier is and its function, along with how to repair and protect it.
What is the skin barrier and its function?
Your skin is made up of different layers with your skin barrier being the outermost layer. It’s often commonly known as your moisture barrier as it helps to protect your skin from dryness by locking-in moisture. You can think of your skin barrier as the thing that keeps the bad things – such as irritants – away from your skin. The number one function of your skin barrier is to keep your skin moisturized. If you’re hoping to achieve dewy, glowing skin, you need to be looking after your skin barrier. When your skin barrier is damaged, it leads to moisture loss which in turn can cause conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis.
External and internal issues that can damage your skin barrier
Although it plays a major role in protecting your skin, your skin barrier can become easily damaged. The leading cause of skin barrier damage is moisture loss, typically caused by harsh cleansers and cleansing acids that strip your skin of its moisture and natural oils.
Your skincare routine could also be doing more harm than good. If you’re a fan of waxing or exfoliating, you can be damaging your skin barrier. Products that contain alcohol and fragrance can also lead to irritation. You want to look at the ingredients in each of your skincare products and identify where you might be having too much of a good thing.
While salicylic acid is great at removing dead skin cells, you don’t want to overuse it. You want to keep salicylic acid in either your toner or cleanser – but not both. Over-exfoliating in the leading cause of skin barrier damage as it leads to sensitivity and moisture loss. Streamlining your skincare routine can help you resist the temptation of overdoing your cleansing products.
Internal issues can also lead to skin barrier damage, including stress and hormones. You’ll notice that your skin barrier is damaged when your skin feels irritated, whether it’s itchiness, inflammation, or redness. A tell-tale sign of a damaged skin barrier is if you start to experience a stinging or burning sensation when using everyday skincare products like hydrating serums and cleansers.
How to repair and protect your skin barrier
If you want to repair and protect your skin barrier, you need to be careful about the acids and peels that you’re using. Moisturizer is your best friend for treating a damaged skin barrier, including ingredients like hyaluronic acid that can repair your skin and boost its barrier function.
Repairing your skin barrier is easier than you might think. You want to promote skin renewal by boosting your skin’s hydration and avoiding wearing makeup until your skin recovers. Setting your makeup bag aside for a short while can help smooth and clear your skin.
You also want to give your skin a break from active ingredients, including vitamin C and retinol. Your skincare routine should focus on nourishing and hydrating ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and centella asiatica. Keep your products simple with a focus on hydration and soothing your skin to relieve any redness or irritation caused by a damaged skin barrier. When it comes to protecting your skin barrier, you want to pay attention to what ingredients and products you’re using. Going in too deep can cause issues and damage your skin barrier. Start slowly when you’re introducing new products and do it one at a time.
You also want to avoid exfoliating your skin more than once or twice a week. Unless you have acne-prone skin, you won’t need to exfoliate any more than this. The best thing that you can do for your skin barrier is to invest in your moisturizer and prioritize it in your skincare routine. It’s the last step to lock-in moisture and protect your skin throughout the day or overnight.
What are the main ingredients to look for in a moisturizer
You want to look for moisturizers that feature glycerin as it acts as a humectant that helps your skin retain its moisture and boosts your skin’s protective barrier. It also helps to soothe dryness and smooth your skin’s surface. As an emollient, glycerin softens your skin and brightens your complexion. A glycerin moisturizer will strengthen and fortify your skin barrier for all-day protection.
Hyaluronic acid or Dimethicone
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most talked-about ingredients in the skincare industry. It holds up to thousand times its weight in water, allowing your skin to boost its moisture retention to maintain the integrity of your skin barrier. As an antioxidant, hyaluronic acid helps to heal scars and wounds to protect against damage.
Can’t find hyaluronic acid? Dimethicone serves a similar function and is a silicone-based ingredient that is amongst the most popular moisturizing agents in the skincare industry.
Centella asiatica extract
Using a moisturizer with centella asiatia extract can give your skin the amino acids that it needs to stay hydrated and to soothe inflammation. It works to revitalize your skin’s barrier and can also tackle the visible signs of UV radiation, including sunspots.
Looking after your skin’s barrier is just as important as incorporating anti-aging ingredients into your routine. With this guide, you’ll know how to spot damage to your skin barrier and how to repair and protect it in future.