Your skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin on your face and body. It acts as a shield of protection to defend against environmental aggressors while also locking in moisture and hydration.
When the barrier becomes damaged, the cells allow environmental stressors (think pollution, bacteria and dirt) to get into the skin. A damaged skin barrier can lead to dry skin, sensitivity, inflammation (redness and puffiness) and sometimes even acne. Once you have a strong and stable skin barrier, your skin is able to defend itself as well as self-regenerate.
A strong skin barrier is the foundation of healthy and glowing skin.
The cause of a damaged skin barrier (and the subsequent skin issues) depends on the individual and can be internal or external.
Common internal factors that you might look out for are inflammation of the gut, hormone imbalances, autoimmune diseases (eg. IBD, Coeliac, Psoriasis) stress and poor sleep.
The potential external cause of your skin issues could be excess sun exposure without SPF, pollution, over exfoliation, poor skin hygiene, toxic skincare, low quality ingredients and makeup.
The best treatment for a damaged skin barrier comes from within and without. We recommend the below as the first ports of call in healing your barrier for healthier looking skin.
Skincare ingredients to look out for
Shea Butter - Its antioxidant activity help strengthen the skin barrier and minimise redness and inflammation
Hyaluronic Acid - Holds up to 1000x it's weight in water, boosting moisture retention levels.
Fatty Acids - Naturally found in the skin, these help to build and maintain a strong skin barrier
Antioxidants - Ingredients such as White Tea and Cucumber help to reduce skin damage caused by oxidative stress while promoting skin renewal.
Skincare ingredients to avoid
Parabens, SLS, SLES, phthalates, mineral oils, synthetic dyes.
These harsh, stripping ingredients leave the skin barrier exposed and greatly increase the likelihood of irritation, acne, redness, blackheads and
Collagen - Hydrolysed collagen peptides (short chain amino acids - the building blocks) are easily absorbed by the body and help promote the natural production of collagen and elastic. These are the two primary structural aids of the skin, making them essential for a strong and healthy skin barrier.
Water - Staying hydrated is important for hundreds of bodily functions but it's also essential for our skin cell structure. Dehydration leads to inflammation, accelerated skin ageing and poor skin healing.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet - A diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients will help to nourish and strengthen your skin barrier for a glow from within.
Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide) - Stimulates the skin's own repair process at the cellular level for healthier skin cells. It increases cell turnover, strengthens the skin barrier and helps your skin to act like it did when it was younger!
It's important to get to the root cause of your imbalance, be it internal or external. If your issues still persist after incorporating the skincare actives above and taking the internal steps mentioned, it's important to speak to a qualified healthcare professional about what the root cause might be.