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22SALE
to get additional RM22 off products storewide (min. spend RM120)!         [2.2 SALE] Use code
22SALE
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22SALE
to get additional RM22 off products storewide (min. spend RM120)!         [2.2 SALE] Use code
22SALE
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[2.2 SALE] Use code
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0
< THE BEAUTY SPELLBOOK SHOP >
Beauty 101

How To Keep Your Skin Barrier Strong

Rachel Gibbons Beauty Expert
How To Keep Your Skin Barrier Strong

Beauty boutique and drugstore shelves are packed with products that aim to protect and rejuvenate your skin. Some of them exfoliate, some plump, and others moisturise. All these products share the fact that they act on your body’s outermost layer, which is called the skin barrier. 

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 wall. 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 moisturisers. The lipid layer contains: cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides

This fantastically thin brick wall is literally keeping you alive. Without it, various harmful environmental toxins and pathogens could penetrate your skin and cause adverse effects inside 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 your overall health and needs to be protected to help your body function properly.

What can damage your skin barrier?

Daily, your skin defends against a barrage of threats, many of which come from outside your body, and a few come from within. Some of the external and internal factors that can affect your skin barrier include:

  • too humid or too dry environment
  • allergens, irritants, and pollutants
  • too much sun exposure
  • alkaline detergents and soaps
  • exposure to harsh chemicals
  • over-exfoliation or over-washing
  • steroids
  • psychological distress
  • genetic factors that may make you more prone to certain skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis

How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged? 

When your skin barrier is not functioning properly, you may be more prone to developing the following skin symptoms and conditions:

How to protect and restore your skin barrier

What can you do to keep them both healthy and functional? Let’s look at five strategies that can help.

Simplify your skin care routine

If you’re performing a complicated daily skin regimen involving a basketful of products, you may be inadvertently weakening your skin barrier. Consider talking with a dermatologist or another skin care professional about which products are essential and most effective.

If you’re exfoliating, notice how your skin reacts to the method you use. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those with sensitive skin and darker skin tones 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 4.7. But the pH of some skin products can range from 3.7 to 8.2. Researchers recommend cleansing with a product that has a pH between 4.0 and 5.0.

Keeping your skin’s pH at a healthy level may help protect you from skin conditions like dermatitis, ichthyosis, acne, and Candida albicans infections. Although not all products list their pH, some do.

Try a plant oil to replenish your skin barrier

Research from 2018 suggests 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 consider using on your skin include:

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.

Look for formulations that include ceramides

Ceramides are waxy lipids found in especially high concentrations in the stratum corneum. They are crucial for making sure your skin barrier functions properly.

Research from 2019 shows that products containing pseudo-ceramides may help improve the dryness, itchiness, and scaling caused by a poorly functioning barrier. Ceramide-rich moisturisers may also strengthen the structural integrity of your skin barrier.

Ceramide moisturisers 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. According to a 2014 review of studies, darker skin tones were shown to contain lower ceramide levels.

Try moisturisers containing hyaluronic acid, petrolatum, or glycerin

Dry skin is a common problem, and moisturisers are the often-recommended solution. An occlusive moisturiser aids the skin barrier by reducing the amount of water loss from your skin. These products leave a thin film on your skin that helps prevent moisture loss.

One of the most frequently recommended occlusive moisturisers is petrolatum, which experts say can block as much as 99% of water loss from your skin.

Like occlusive moisturisers, humectants can also improve barrier function. Humectants work by drawing water — either from the environment or from inside your body — and binding it into the skin barrier. Researchers recommend products that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, honey, and urea.

Your skin’s barrier is your body’s frontline defense against everything the environment can throw at you. Keeping it healthy is much more than a cosmetic concern.

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