What is the skin barrier, and how to protect it?

What exactly is your skin barrier, what’s its purpose, and how can you protect it? Your skin is made up of layers, each of which performs important functions in protecting your body. The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, acts as a skin barrier and is your body's first line of defense. This layer is often described as a brick wall. It consists of tough skin cells called corneocytes that are bound together. This is your skin barrier. These bricks are tightly bound together by mortar-like fats such as ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This layer also contains a protein called filaggrin, which helps make a natural moisturizing factor for the skin.    

When your skin barrier is compromised it can cause all sorts of problems with your skin. When it’s not functioning properly you may be more prone to issues such as dryness, scaling, itchiness, and rough or discolored patches. On a daily basis your skin defends against a multitude of threats. Many of these threats come from the outside while a few come from within. But what are those things that are threatening your skin barrier? We have listed some below.

  • Allergens, irritates and pollutants 
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Too humid or too dry of an environment
  • Harsh detergents and soaps
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Steroids 
  • Over exfoliation or over washing 
  • Poor skin care
  • Mental or physical stress
  • Dehydration
  • Eating a lot of unhealthy food
  • Lack of sleep

Clearly there are a lot of things that can compromise the skin barrier. But how can you protect it? The first step is to take good care of your skin. Good skin care practices can really go a long way in protecting your body's first line of defense. Here are the ways you can incorporate good skin care practices into your life so you can protect that barrier! Read below to learn. 

  • Avoid too much sun - Remember to wear sunscreen every single day, even when it’s cloudy and the sun is not out! Trust me those UV rays are still there even when you don’t feel the sun. 
  • Moisturize daily - Whether it’s a cream moisturizer or an oil based serum, or balm. Your skin needs that hydration especially if you live in a place that is dry or struggle with dry skin. 
  • Avoid heat - Such as long hot baths or showers, and always remember to pat your skin dry with a towel instead of vigorously rubbing. 
  • Healthy lifestyle - Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, drinking a lot of water, don’t smoke, and learn healthy ways to cope with stress.

Once your skin barrier is compromised it can take some work to fix. Knowing what type of products to use is crucial in the recovery process, because you don’t want to use the wrong products and make it worse. Here are the steps below you can take if your skin barrier becomes compromised. 

  • Using a gentle cleanser and moisturizer that have glycerine, hyaluronic acids, or ceramides. 
  • Only use a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Remove products from your skincare routine with active ingredients such as retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids that can irritate the skin. 
  • The less the better - if you have a skincare routine that involves several steps it would be smart to tone it down while your skin barrier is being repaired. You really only need cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. 
  • Take a look at your stress levels, and sleep pattern. 
  • Take a look at your diet and water intake. Consuming foods high in omegas and beta carotene such as oily fish, nuts, olive oils, sweet potatoes, yams, spinach, and carrots all help waterproof and shield your skin. These types of foods will help repair and support your skin barrier. 

Taking care of your skin is so important. After all, it is the largest organ in your body! If you want more information on the skin barrier or feel you may be struggling with a compromised skin barrier, reach out to us! We have you covered for all your skincare questions and needs. 



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