SKIN BARRIER 101 | What it is and How to Repair it

I’ve been meaning to continue my Skincare Shorts series and I thought what better way to kick it off than a video about the skin barrier! The skin barrier is super important and if it’s damaged… your skin will let you know! So let’s talk about the skin barrier!

What it the skin’s barrier?
Let’s first go over what your skin’s barrier is. The technical term is actually the Stratum Corneum, but it has been commonly referred to as the lipid barrier or moisture barrier. The barrier of the skin is the outermost layer of the skin and acts as your face’s protective barrier by keeping harmful external factors out while locking the moisture in your skin. It is made up of both dead or non-living skin cells (corneocytes) and lipids (fats). This is why you’ll hear the whole brick wall analogy commonly used when describing the skin barrier. The bricks are your dead skin cells that are ready to shed and the cement is the intercellular matrix of lipids that holds everything nice and tight (and moisture in!). To simplify this to the max, it keeps the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out. 

How do I know if my skin’s barrier is damaged? 
There are several ways you can tell if your skin barrier is compromised or damaged. The most common symptoms you’ll notice is dryness, itchiness, tightness, or even red sensitive skin. So no, consistent flakiness is not normal and you should not be experiencing dry, tender skin or stinging when applying products. Essentially when your barrier is compromised, micro cracks in your skin allow moisture and hydration to permeate out. So if you notice that no matter what you do, you skin is still dry or uncomfortable even couple hours after moisturizing… you most likely have a damaged barrier. I’d also like to note that people with oily skin can also have damaged skin barriers. H

What can cause damage? 
So this is where is gets tricky because there are several things that can damage the lipid barrier. The most common factors are over-exfoliating (chemical or manual), harsh skincare products, or over-washing (which also kind of ties into pH and the acid mantle but I don’t want to overcomplicate things so I’ll save that for another skincare short!)  Here are some (but not all!) damaging things:
-Using hot water
-Artificial Fragrance
-Extreme cold
-Dry air
-Acidic Ingredients
-Long airplane flights
-Allergic reactions
-Sun Damage

Ok, so now I know my skin barrier is damaged… what do I do? 
First of all, stop all exfoliation and assess your routine. Your main focus should be on gentle cleansing and moisturizing. Also, look for products that contain ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, linoleum acid, squalene and fatty acids. Of course, repair can vary from skin type, tolerance levels, climate, etc. but this is just an example of how to rehab the skin. As your skin recovers, you can slowly add products back in. But remember, it’s a process and patience is key to allow your skin to recover!

Product Recommendations: 
Stratia Liquid Gold
This serum is loaded with fatty acids that help support the building blocks of your skin’s barrier. When I use this product, I’m super generous… sometimes I’ll even apply more than one layer. It doesn’t have much of a scent and it’s almost a thick milky texture. This is also touted as one of the best skincare products for barrier recovery! I’m also glad they finally changed the packaging!

Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream
This is a product that is almost famous for helping with repairing the skin barrier. It absorbs quickly and creates a layer on the skin that encourages recovery. It’s a bit on the thicker side but don’t let that deter you because it’s not greasy whatsoever! Dr. Jart’s has other products that are part of this line that I’m interested in trying as well since I love this cream so much!

belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
I’m sure you’re tired of me recommending this product but I can’t help myself. Not only has this product been super helpful for my dry skin, but it’s really helped heal my boyfriend’s acne prone skin. It’s non-sticky and fast absorbing but super moisturizing and also has a lovely texture. When I have super dry skin, I’ll reach for its sister product, the moisture bomb.

Embryolisse La Creme Concentre
This has been a long-standing favorite of mine. I’ve used this product for over a decade and it’s a cream I like to keep in my arsenal specifically for skin recovery and soothing irritation. It’s an all-a-round powerhouse cream and I’ve used it not only to help with repairing the skin on my face, but also on mild rashes. This cream to me is as basic as it gets and sometimes that exactly what my skin needs!

Alright! So that’s my quick round-up of what the skin barrier is, what to do when damage occurs, and what products I’d recommend for recovery. I hope this was a helpful little article and video and I just want to send best wishes to anyone who is dealing with the frustration of a compromised skin barrier! You got this!