Think of your skin barrier as the moat surrounding and protecting a castle. Or, for you skin nerds, the shields that defend the Starship Enterprise from attack on sci-fi series, Star Trek. Your skin barrier is the protective, outer layer of skin that functions as the first line of attack for all manner of damaging assaults and compromising elements.
What does the skin barrier do?
The outermost layer of the epidermis, the skin barrier (also known as the moisture barrier or lipid barrier) is a perfectly functioning defensive shield when it’s in healthy shape. This natural barricade helps keep viruses and bacteria from entering the body, defends against free radical attacks and pollutants, and prevents most foreign substances from passing into the skin.
But it also functions in reverse. Not only does the skin barrier help keep things out, it helps keep vital substances in – like water, oil and numerous other components of healthy skin, including essential lipids like fatty acids and ceramides. These natural fats function like mortar to bind the skin cells together.
While a brilliant protective later, the skin barrier isn’t impermeable. If it were, some of the most beneficial skincare actives found in the best anti-aging serums, like antioxidant vitamins and botanicals, nourishing plant oils and amino acids, wouldn’t be able to penetrate the skin to enhance and sustain skin health.
How do you know if your skin barrier is damaged?
A damaged skin barrier can be the bane of your existence. Signs that your skin barrier may be compromised include: dryness, flakiness, redness, irritation, sensitivity, a dull complexion and the occurrence of acne blemishes.
Suddenly, your skin may begin acting up. Where it once responded positively to beneficial actives in a face serum, it may become sensitized – seemingly out of nowhere. Damaged skin may also become reactive to sun exposure, even with adequate UV protection.
How do you get a healthy skin barrier?
Preventing a damaged skin barrier is the most effective way to maintain optimal barrier functions. Some of the most effective ways to protect barrier integrity are to:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during the dry, colder months. A good rule is to drink an ounce of water for every pound of body weight.
- Use a sunscreen. UV damage is perhaps the most common cause of a thinning, compromised skin barrier. Dermatologists recommend applying a sunscreen each morning with an SPF 30 or higher.
- Go easy on the acids. Overdoing it with aggressive acid treatments including potent AHA’s like Glycolic Acid can damage the skin barrier and increase sun sensitivity.
- Maintain a balanced pH. The pH level of a healthy skin barrier is believed to be, on average, between 4.7 and 5.75. Know the pH levels of the skincare products you use. Higher pH levels measuring 9 or more can actually strip the skin and case severe dryness. It’s important to maintain equilibrium.
If you suspect you have a damaged skin barrier, dial back the use of aggressive acids, amp up your use of sunscreen, and consider a barrier repair face cream rich in bio-identical lipids such as ceramides and fatty acids.
What is a good barrier cream?
The best face creams for barrier repair contain skin-similar lipids that mimic the skin barrier’s own natural lipid content. A lipid-rich moisturizer is one of the most effective ways to replenish skin lipids like ceramides – and to help restore and maintain skin barrier health.
As part of a Barrier+ three-step regimen, the Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream is a lipid filler rich in vital lipids, peptides and sodium hyaluronate and is clinically proven to help restore depleted ceramides and fatty acids and support barrier function by reversing lipid depletion.
In fact, the Skinfix Barrier+ regimen is clinically proven to replenish skin lipids by 23.6% in 28 days. That's nearly 1% per day!