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Beauty 101
Steps to Rebuilding The Skin Barrier
Rachel Gibbons Beauty Expert
Steps to Rebuilding The Skin Barrier

Skin barrier. You may have heard this term being tossed around, especially when products claim they can repair it after just a few days of use!

“Barrier repair is such a huge conversation for myriad reasons,” says Sean Garrette, a licensed esthetician, Fenty Skin ambassador, and barrier-repair enthusiast. He says one reason the skin barrier is top of mind right now is because, for many, it’s more irritated than usual. “Because we’re wearing masks and facial coverings daily, a lot of us are suffering from maskne,” he says of the breakouts and irritation caused from the friction and heat of wearing a face mask.

What is your skin barrier's purpose?

Your skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin and it almost functions like a shield of sorts, containing keratin, natural moisturisers, cholesterol, fatty acids and ceramides. Without it, environmental stressors, toxins and bacteria could penetrate and water inside you body would escape, leaving you dehydrated.  

What can damage it?

  • an environment that’s either too humid or dry
  • allergens, irritants, and pollutants
  • overexposure to the sun
  • detergents and soaps that are too alkaline
  • exposure to harsh chemicals
  • overexfoliation or over-washing
  • steroids
  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • ageing
  • harsh cleansers

How can you tell if it is damaged?

You may be more prone to dry/scaly skin, itchiness, discoloured patches, acne, increased sensitivity, inflamed areas, or bacterial/viral/fungal skin infections. You may also experience stinging and burning when applying your usual everyday skincare products. One of the main causes of sensitive skin is a weakened or damaged skin barrier.

How can you repair it?

  • use moisturisers containing hyaluronic acid, petrolatum, ceramides or glycerin to replenish and hydrate
  • apply plant oils such as jojoba, coconut, argan, rosehip, almond or sunflower to moisturise
  • cleanse with products close to your skin's natural pH which is around 5.7
  • stop over-exfoliating with physical scrubs
  • cut down the products in your skin routine
  • avoid incorporating new skincare products into your routine
  • reduce inflammation with niacinamides
  • add some antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like vitamins A, C and E
  • cleanse only with lukewarm water
  • do not overdo it with active ingredients

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