A healthy skin barrier is like a shield. It protects the body from microbes, irritants, and allergens.
Incredible research has shown that hydrating and protecting the skin barrier can help reduce a newborn’s chance of developing food allergies, asthma and eczema later in life. Recent studies have also shown how a healthy, functioning skin barrier can reduce our chances of developing chronic diseases.
Dr. Julia Carroll, board-certified dermatologist at Compass Dermatology shares her thoughts on the skin barrier’s protective role.
Why is it important to strengthen the skin barrier at birth?
We assume that a baby’s skin barrier is healthy when they are born but it actually takes time for the skin barrier to develop – this can take a few months after birth. In fact, 75% of children with food allergies at 2 years of age had a weak skin barrier when they were born. New clinical research shows that a strong skin barrier is the key to stopping other health issues like food allergies, asthma and hay fever from developing. So applying a lipid rich moisturizing cream will help fortify the barrier. *(J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Apr;135(4):930-5)
What is inflamm-aging?
As we age, we experience low levels of inflammation. Scientists at UCSF and San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System have shown that a weak skin barrier can cause body wide inflammation. This inflammation can even lead to chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Scientists found that cytokines levels increased as we age. These scientists wondered if the increase in inflammation in the body was due to a weak skin barrier or a low immune system or poor gut health.
They conducted a study* with 33 patients over the age of 58. Subjects applied a skin cream with three types of lipids (cholesterol, free fatty acids and ceramides) twice a day for 30 days. The results showed that using the cream lowered participants’ cytokine levels to those of a 30-year olds. The results suggest that inflamm-aging can be reversed with an effective skin barrier regimen. The cream also improved skin hydration, lowered pH, and repaired the permeability barrier. *Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, March 5, 2019.
Why is skin barrier health so important?
In both studies, we see that moisturizing with a lipid rich cream can help strengthen the skin barrier and thereby decrease asthma, allergies and even inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases. The fact that we can apply a topical cream and prevent these health issues from occurring is really promising.
What are three things we can do to protect our skin barrier?
1) Keep it simple. You don’t need a 10-step skincare routine; wash your face once a day with a gentle, sulfate free cleanser.
2) Use a moisturizing product line that is rich in natural lipids and has a combo of ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol for both the face and body. The Skinfix Barrier+ facial regimen is formulated with skin-similar lipids and is clinically proven to increase the quantity of lipids in the skin barrier by a significant 23.6% in 28 days (that's nearly a 1% increase each day).
3) Use sunscreen.
Taking these three steps will help your skin barrier function better and play a protective role against inflammation and disease.