Let's talk about damaged protective skin barrier, what it is, what causes damage and how to protect and prevent it. If your protective skin barrier is damaged there are a few ways to help protect and prevent further damage.
First off, let’s talk about the functions of your protective skin barrier and what can causes damage to it, to get a better understanding on how this can be better protected to have your skin glowing again.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and consists of several layers, Hypodermis (Subcutaneous tissue), Dermis and Epidermis. The protective skin barrier is the outmost layer also called the moisture barrier, essentially it keeps all the bad things like irritants out and good things like hydration in. Mona Gohara, M.D a Dermatologist says to think of your skin as a brick and mortar structure, the bricks are your skin cells and the mortar is the lipids (natural fats) and proteins, together they keep the water locked in and the irritants out. Your barriers number one job is to keep water in your skin, it is the key, not only for dewy, bouncy skin but for overall healthy skin.
If your barrier is weakened your skin is open to TEWL ( transepidermal water loss), leaving your skin severely dehydrated but also can cause skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema. Protective barrier damage mostly comes from the natural oils being stripped from your skin, this is done by using harsh cleansers, acne medication and acids.
Choosing the wrong skincare products is one of the biggest causes to a damaged barrier. You need to choose the right products for your skin or you will continue to damage the barrier making it harder and longer to repair. Scrubbing your skin too hard will also cause damage to your protective barrier, you can not physically see this but harsh scrubbing leads to tiny abrasions to the skin, this is where sensitive skin comes into play.
If you are not familiar with your skin type and rely on google to give you DIY home recipes, please don’t, without professional guidance you can cause a lot of damage to your skin. Internal factors like stress and hormones can also cause an impairment to your protective barrier.
So how exactly can we improve and shield our protective barrier to ensure our skin is retaining water to keep hydrated and to keep the bad guys out?
Lipids are great for building a protective, oily film on the skin locking in and preventing moisture from leaving the epidermis. This is the reason why oils do not absorb well into the skin and sits comfortably on the surface. There are a wide range of lipids in the cosmetic industry such as plant oils, mineral oils and silicones. If you are like myself and prefer natural ingredients then lipids like Coco-Caprylate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride and Isoamyl Laurate to name a few are light feel oils, that have great emollience for the skin and can aid in the protection TEWL. If you have oily skin, then purchasing products with smaller inputs of oil will benefit you greatly, as your skincare routine will remove any excess sebum, leaving your skin oil free, so having these products with smaller inputs of oil, helps to restore your skin barrier with the oil needed for protection.
The best products you can use to help your barrier are products that containing high inputs of humectants. Although using high inputs of glycerine can cause your product to be sticky, there are many kinds of humectants that are best suited to higher inputs such as Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA or even Propanediol. Humectants are known to help keep the skin moisturised by drawing moisture from the dermis (the second layer of skin) to the epidermis. They also have an amazing ability to pull moisture from the air around you to the epidermis helping to keep your skin moisturised, hydrated and plump.
Protecting your skin barrier is very crucial in keeping your skin healthy as it ages.