Just about all of our skin woes can be boiled down to a disrupted skin barrier. Sudden redness and sensitivity? Compromised skin barrier. Dry and flaky? Your barrier could be to blame. Outbreaks of conditions such as psoriasis and eczema? You guessed it!
But what exactly is our skin barrier and its function, anyway?
The skin barrier refers to the outer layer of skin. Known in dermatological terms as the stratum corneum, its role, as the name suggests, is to protect your skin and body from the environment and external aggressors. It is made up of cells which are held together by ceramides, proteins and fatty acids. And, in order to have healthy skin, yours needs to be functionally strong.
As it is the first line of defence, our skin barrier can easily be thrown out of balance. When it’s strong, it prevents the loss of moisture, protects us from damage caused by pollution, toxins and UV rays and prevents inflammation and infection. But when it becomes compromised, it can result in skin that looks and feels sad. Ways in which it can become damaged include stripping your skin of natural oils, a change in temperature, over-exfoliating, using harsh products and using DIY skincare ingredients. This means going easy on the scrub and foregoing the baking-soda spot treatments – but, in the long run, you won’t regret it!
Strengthen Your Skin Barrier
It’s not just about avoiding certain products and ingredients. To keep yours strong, especially as you age and your skin becomes drier, you need to make some changes to your skincare routine.
There are several ingredients that are known to improve and maintain skin barrier function. These include peptides and ceramides – both of which are also produced naturally by the skin. Hyaluronic acid helps to prevent dehydration and lock in moisture. Many facial oils also contain omega fatty acids which add nourishment, with squalane, jojoba and rosehip being popular picks.
Help your skin barrier help you stay protected. With the right additions to your skincare routine and avoiding damaging habits and practices, you can make sure yours is fighting fit.