Our skin barrier has a major impact on our overall skin health – so here’s how to look after it.
The skin barrier is a watertight seal that keeps the outermost layers of skin smoothly together. When these outer layers are healthy your skin will feel soft and look supple and plump. However, if these outer layers are damaged, skin may look dull and feel rough, sensitive or dry.
Our skin barrier’s can weaken as a result of ageing and genetics as well as external contributors, like over-cleansing, harsh products, stress and UV exposure. The ‘stress’ hormone, cortisol, can weaken the skin barrier and cause water to leak out of cells, dehydrating the skin and causing dullness, fine lines and sensitive skin.
Not surprisingly, a damaged skin barrier also makes it difficult to repair signs of ageing and post-breakout marks, so it’s super important to protect it!
How to take care of your skin barrier:
- Always use lukewarm water – water that is too hot or cold can irritate skin.
- Use products with ceramides in them – ceramides are your best option for strengthening the skin barrier. The best way to think of ceramides is by imagining skin cells as the bricks and ceramides as the mortar in between, sealing in moisture.
- Use a gentle, leave-on exfoliant as opposed to harsh scrubs.
- Use fragrance-free skincare products. Fragrance makes skin more sensitive and can rob it of the replenishing ingredients and skin-barrier-repairing ingredients that it needs to stay healthy.
- Don’t overdo it when using active ingredients like AHA, BHA or retinol. If you are noticing your skin barrier is rather weak, avoid products that have active acids, like salicylic acid for example. They strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving the barrier dry, exposed and susceptible to irritation.
- Use SPF everyday. Sun exposure is one of the major causes of a damaged skin barrier so use a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or greater.
My favourite protective products:
This gorgeous, hydrating cleanser contains 3 essential Ceramides – 1, 3 and 6-II – which work to cleanse the skin, ensuring not to strip away vital moisture.
I am obsessed with this product – no wonder there is so much hype around it. Fortified with only 11 ingredients, including Hyaluronic Acid and 89% Vichy Thermal Mineralising Water, the fresh, light gel-like formula strengthens the skin’s barrier to defend against environmental aggressors.
This repairing mask contains Yuzu Ceramides (5%) which contribute to the skin-barrier function, helping skin appear smoother, stronger, more luminous and elastic.
This is my favourite SPF. It is hydrating, has no white cast and doesn’t clog pores. It is of course very protective too.
My favourite moisturiser/primer without the fragrance! This product is perfect for all skin types and if you find your skin is irritable, then this should be your new go-to!