The hydrolipid barrier is the outermost layer of the skin made up of dead skin cells and lipids (fats) responsible for keeping moisture in and nasties such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals and pollution out.
When this barrier is damaged it leads to the skin becoming dehydrated, dry and fragile. An impaired skin barrier allows bacteria, allergens and chemicals to enter the skin. Conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis all have some form of impaired lipid barrier.
What Causes Damage To The Skin Barrier?
Exfoliation is great for keeping skin looking fresh, smooth and clear, but overdoing it or using harsh physical exfoliants can damage your skin barrier.
Washing too often or with harsh cleansers containing SLS, and washing with hot water can damage the skin barrier.
Drinking Alcohol & Coffee
These dehydrate the skin, cause inflammation and dilate capillaries causing redness.
Using Sensitizing Ingredients
Artificial fragrances, colorants, denatured alcohols and harsh chemical ingredients such a benzoyl peroxide and high-strength retinoids.
Exposure to UV rays can lead to skin damage.
A poor diet and dehydration can manifest on your skin, low-fat diets and spicy foods have been linked to weakened skin barrier function.
Physical & Emotional Stress
Mental stress fatigue, dehydration and malnourishment manifest on your skin.
As you get older your skin barrier function naturally weakens.
How To Repair The Skin Barrier
If you are experiencing discomfort in your skin, dryness, redness, itching, breakouts, skin that’s oily and dry at the same time you likely have a damaged skin barrier.
In order to restore your skin barrier you need to give your skin a break for at least a month, yes you read that right. Repairing the skin barrier is not an overnight job and requires dedication and long-term lifestyle changes.
- Stop all your ABCs
That’s Vitamin A (retinols), AHAs, BHAs and Vitamin C. Stop the use of all chemical exfoliants and ingredients known to cause skin irritation for at least a month.
- Avoid Physical Exfoliation
Avoid physical exfoliants such as scrubs containing micro beads and manual cleansing brushes. In fact, there is no reason for you to ever have to use these on your skin.
- Reconsider The Products You Use
Time to clean out your skincare cabinet! Go through your products and toss anything containing denatured alcohols; ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, methanol and benzyl alcohol. Toss cleansers and products containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and artificial fragrances.
- Incorporate Ceramides Into Your Routine
Ceramides and glycerine have been scientifically proven to help restore the skin barrier and function by improving and sustaining skin moisture levels.
- Cleanse Gently
Wash your face no more than twice daily, using lukewarm water and a gentle cream or gel cleanser free from sulphates.
- Wear SPF
Always protect your face with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If your skin is feeling very fragile, you may want to skin sunscreen for a week to give it a break, but make sure to avoid direct sunlight for that time period as much as possible.
- Ditch The Booze And Cigarettes
Seriously minimise or completely eliminate the consumption of alcohol, coffee and cigarettes. Your body and your skin will thank you.
- Watch Your Diet
Feed your skin from within and incorporate foods known to improve moisture levels in the skin such as cucumber, celery, salmon, flax seeds, walnuts and green juice.
Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
You will be amazed to see how much easy it is to have beautiful, glowing and healthy skin when you have fully functioning skin barrier. Remember, every time you have an issue with your skin, your skin barrier is most likely compromised. Take care of your skin, treat it as you would treat a baby’s skin and you will soon reap the benefits.