You have a damaged skin barrier if your skin is dry, flaky, sensitive, redness (or pink) and burning/stinging as soon as you apply any product. You can also have more oil produced because of a damaged skin barrier, so it is not just when your skin is dry.
If all of this sounds similar, you may have a damaged skin barrier.
Our skin is composed of ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol that keep the skin hydrated and blocks harmful bacteria and allergens. When these components of skin are compromised and don't function well, it results in very dry, dull and sensitive skin and it is said to have compromised the natural skin barrier function. In order to fix a damaged skin barrier, we need to use very hydrating cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers, serums and SPF 50 sun protection and stay away from over exfoliation, and usage of harsh physical scrubs and soaps on face.
What is our Skin Barrier
Corneocytes are the skin cells on the stratum corneum layer which is the outermost part of your skin that you see. Underneath your skin layers are a bunch of fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides which keep the water trapped in so you have less trans-epidermal water loss (less water is being evaporated from your skin). This essentially also makes sure your skin keeps all the allergens and bacteria out. Therefore this barrier is very crucial for the health of your skin.
Why Skin Barrier Gets Damaged
One or more of the following reasons could have caused barrier damage in your skin:
Using either an enzyme exfoliation or physical scrubbing
Central heating indoors or cold harsh weather outside.
With age, we have reduced Ceramides in our skin which means we have more trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) leading to drier and more dehydrated skin as we age
Don't do this if you have Damaged Skin Barrier
The first step to treating a damaged skin barrier is prevention.
- Don’t use anything that’s harsh on the skin. Use a mild cleanser and avoid any soap or scrubs over your face or any tools that scrub the skin (you shouldn’t be using them anyway). Simplify your skincare routine
- Avoid products that are irritants like products with essential oils, denatured alcohol and fragrance.
- Avoid any active ingredients that can irritate your skin. Avoid AHAs, Salicylic Acid (BHA can dry the skin even further) and Retinoids (Vitamin A turns over skin cells quickly which will then dry out the skin further)
- Use a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide (anti-inflammatory).
Skincare Routine to Fix Damaged Skin Barrier
In order to treat a damaged skin barrier, you need
- Use a hydrating cleanser. Wash your skin quickly with cool water as hot water can further dehydrate your skin.
- Use a Hydrating toner that will also normalize the pH of your skin.
- Your skin needs humectants; the water magnets that will lock the water in your skin (Hyaluronic Acid, moisturizers). Use Natural Moisturizer Factor (NMF) moisturizers and ceramides.
- Include niacinamide into your routine.
- Anti-oxidants to mop up free radicals from your skin
- SPF 50 physical sunscreen with zinc oxide
Products to Fix Damaged Skin Barrier
- Cleanser: Simple Micellar Gel Wash ($10 | 150ml)
A non-stripping cleanser that leaves your skin feeling hydrated.
- Fatty Acid Serum: Paula’s Choice Omega Plus Complex ($35 | 50ml)
This is great for damaged skin barriers as it has got fatty acids, ceramides and humectants in it.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($21 | 539g)
Highly recommended by dermatologists for dry and sensitive skin as well as for oily acne prone skin. It is free from irritants and fragrance. It has ceramides that helps in improving the damaged skin barrier and also contains Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid which holds the moisture in the skin. It also has moisturizer Ingredients like Petrolatum & Dimethicone.
Oils: 100% Plant Derived Squalane ($7.70 | 30ml)
Using oil at the end of your skincare routine reduces loss of water from the skin. If you just use a moisturizer at night, your face will feel tight in the morning because of the central air conditioners or central heating. Oil helps in locking in all the moisture and to make sure the skin is actually restoring throughout the night
- Humectant Face Mask: The Body Shop Aloe Calm Sheet Mask
Use a humectant face mask once per week.This one has no alcohol, irritants or fragrance in it.
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