Have you ever stared at a red blotchy face wondering, “Why is my skin angry?” You’re desperately searching for another toner or serum, hoping you’ll find the right product to calm your inflamed skin. You’re probably in denial, but the truth is, you damaged your skin barrier.
What is the skin barrier?
Our skin barrier is the outermost layer of our skin, known as the epidermis. It has two main functions: keeping harmful things out, such as bacteria and pollution, and maintaining our skin’s hydration. Think of your skin barrier as a fortress wall protecting your body. Like any wall, it will have bricks and mortar (a paste-like substance keeping everything together). Your skin cells are the bricks, and the lipids that carry ceramides and fatty acids are the mortar.
Why is the skin barrier significant?
Your skin is constantly exposed to free radicals and other pollutants. A healthy skin barrier will do a better job repelling irritants that cause skin concerns. Our skin also experiences something called Transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This occurs when water passes from the dermis (middle layer of skin) through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin’s surface. Transepidermal water loss affects the lipids and leaves your skin looking dull, dry and inflamed.
What are some symptoms?
There are many signs your skin barrier has been compromised, including:
- skin infections
- cracked skin
- red, irritated skin
- dry, scaly and dull skin
What causes skin barrier damage?
Several factors both in and out of control can cause damage to the skin barrier.
- age, loss of natural oils
- skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
- UV rays
- dry or humid climates
- chemical exposure
- lack of sleep
- over washing or bathing
But sometimes, the biggest culprit is our skincare habits like over-exfoliating, layering too many active ingredients and excessive face washing. Trust me, I’ve been there!
How can I repair my skin?
The first thing you need to do is evaluate your current skincare routine. Sometimes less is more. Remove unnecessary steps by reducing your regimen to a gentle cleanser, serum, moisturizer and SPF. You can still exfoliate but wait till symptoms have cleared. Don’t forget to follow the instructions and stay away from acids with high percentages. If possible, ask your dermatologist to help you build a skincare routine to heal and prevent skin barrier damage.
You also must select products with the right ingredients to restore your skin. You will need ingredients that fall into these three categories:
Humectants restore the skin’s hydration due to transepidermal water loss. Look for products that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin. You will also need to strengthen the lipid matrix.
Products with humectants:
Ceramides are a type of lipid perfect for reinforcing your lipid barrier. Look for this ingredient in your moisturizing or serum step. After packing your skin with hydration, you need to seal it in.
Products with ceramides:
Emollients are occlusive agents that draw and retain moisture. Look for products that contain grape seed oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil or shea butter.
Products with emollients:
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