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What is your skin barrier and how do you take care of it?

What is your skin barrier and how do you take care of it?

Lately, it seems that you can’t scroll past a skinfluencer on Instagram without seeing something about the skin barrier and the importance of protecting and maintaining it. But what exactly is the skin barrier? And why is it important?

You may know that your skin is made up of several layers. The skin barrier (or moisture barrier) refers to the outermost layer of your skin. Its job is seemingly simple: keep harmful things out (for example, irritants and environmental pollutants) and good things in (for example, hydration and moisture). This doesn’t only help the skin look healthy, it also contributes to overall skin health.

 

WHAT CAN DAMAGE THE SKIN BARRIER AND HOW DO I KNOW IF MINE IS DAMAGED?

Barrier damage happens when you strip your skin of its natural oils, for example with cleansers that are overly harsh, strong acne medications, overuse of exfoliating acids, or scrubbing too vigorously. Internal factors like stress or hormone imbalances can also affect the health of the skin barrier.

If the barrier becomes damaged, it can lead to moisture loss and you will notice that your skin feels dehydrated, sensitive, itchy, inflamed, and/or irritated. A telltale sign of this can be that even when applying non-active products like face wash or moisturizers, you experience stinging or burning. 

 

HOW DO I REPAIR A DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER?

First, take a break from any active products (for example, retinol, vitamin c, exfoliants) that you normally use, for at least two or three weeks. Now is the time to strip your skincare routine back to basics: gentle cleanser, healing serum, and balmy moisturizer. Look for healing, nourishing ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and centella asiatica.

Some of our favorite skin barrier restoring products include Pestle & Mortar's Pure Hyaluronic Serum, Beauty of Joseon's Calming and Repair serums, Keep Cool's Soothe Bamboo Serum, Soothe Bamboo Toner, and Ursa Major's Golden Hour recovery Cream.

NEXT STEP: PROTECTING THE SKIN BARRIER 

As much as we love trying new skincare, keeping the skin barrier protected means being patient when trying new products, and not layering them all on at once. This is especially important when adding in new actives. Always make sure to go one at a time and to select products relevant to your skin type and concerns.