How to repair a damaged skin barrier?

How to repair a damaged skin barrier?

Our skin is much a complicated yet sophisticated organx. It comprises many layers to keep our bodies protected from external environmental stressors or microorganisms. To keep them healthy and function normally, our skin is armed with a barrier layer or commonly known as the “skin barrier”. 

Let’s learn more about the skin barrier, how to keep it healthy, how to prevent a damaged skin barrier, and what to do when it is unintentionally damaged.

What is the skin barrier?

Our skin barrier is part of our skin’s top layer called the stratum corneum. It is made up of corneocytes (skin cells) and a lipid interface that glues them together. It is also called the “brick-mortar” structure—corneocytes as the brick and lipid interface as the mortar. The lipid interface comprises free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. In their best state, the skin barrier will shed off their top layer, where our skin naturally exfoliates itself, keep our skin’s moisture intact and protect allergens from getting inside and causing irritation.

Healthy Protective Skin Barrier

Causes of Skin Barrier Damage

Our skin barrier can be disrupted due to many possible reasons. When it’s damaged, the tight arrangement between the skin cells is lost. This allows external irritants to get in our skin a lot easier and lead to more water leaving our skin. Damaged skin barrier is characterised by easily irritated, dehydrated and flaky skin. Your skin is red, irritated, tight, yet very oily.

Skin Barrier Damage

Does this sound familiar to you? When these happen out of the blue, your skin barrier has probably been damaged. Before we learn how to deal with it, it is better to track down their root cause since some might be caused by our own skincare mistakes that we can prevent in the future. 

How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged? 

Skin before & after.

When your skin barrier isn’t functioning properly, you may be prone to developing the following skin symptoms and conditions:

Common external causes of damaged skin barrier can vary from our basic routine up to environmental factors:

  • Over washing

Overexposure to water and a harsh cleanser may cause a damaged skin barrier. It can strip away the natural lipid barrier on our skin. Instead of protecting your skin from dirt and impurities, it could damage the skin’s first protective layer, which provides most of the protection.

  • Over-exfoliating 

With more varieties of exfoliating products in the market and the tendency for instant gratification in your skincare routine, over-exfoliating is a pretty common thing today. When you over-exfoliate your skin, you’re not only taking away the unwanted dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin but also the functional “skin barrier” that is present to protect you in the first place. Always be mindful while using your exfoliating products and look out for any differences on your skin; this allows you to STOP doing it when needed.

  • Pollution, bad or dry air quality

Research has shown that pollution and dry air can affect our skin barrier layer. Thus, it is very common for people to experience sensitive and itchy skin when the air quality is poor. Therefore, it is best to limit outdoor activities during pollution, wear protective masks and clothing outdoors and use an air purifier in your living space to keep the air clean. This won’t only benefit your skin but also your general health in general.

  •  Stress and lack of sleep

Have you ever experienced a “bad skin” day when you lack rest and sleep? Yes, lack of sleep or rest can damage your skin barrier and lead to increased trans epidermal water loss. Get more rest, sleep and protect your skin barrier!

Some internal factors that are out of our control in general:

  • Genetics

While this is much beyond our control, some people have a genetically impaired skin barrier component. They lack the production of any components linked to one another needed for healthy skin barrier function. We commonly see this in people with atopic dermatitis or eczema. However, we can totally practice safe and healthy skin care habits to prevent them from getting even worse.

  • Ageing

Unfortunately, as we age, our skin barrier gets weaker. This is why it’s not uncommon for people to experience drier and more sensitive skin as they age.

So once it happened, what should you do next? 

Tips on step to repair damage skin barrier.

Here we compile some tips on each step and what to do when your skin barrier is damaged.

Picking the right skincare products to help accelerate your skin repair, desensitise skin, and keep your skin barrier healthy anytime. There are several ingredients that you might want to look out for to treat your irritated skin. Ingredients that help with skin barrier restoration are Ceramides, Free Fatty Acids, Natural Moisturising Factors and Niacinamide. While water-retaining ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and panthenol will support your skin’s ability to retain moisture. Last but not least, various skin-soothing ingredients from natural plant extracts such as Aloe, Centella Asiatica, Calendula and many more can help to tone down any redness and irritation on your skin.

Skin Barrier Repairing Ingredients

Ingredients for skin barrier restorationWater-retaining ingredientsSkin soothing ingredients
CeramidesHyaluronicAloe Extract
Free Fatty acidsAcid GlycerinCentella Asiatica
Natural moisturizing factorsPanthenolCalendula Extract
Niacinamide

There are a few of Plant oils that 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.

Plant oil which is able to replenish your skin barrier

  • Jojoba oil
  • Argan oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Borage oil

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

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