Let’s talk your skin barrier. What is it, exactly?
Our skin has its own protective shield which is called the acid mantle also known as your skin barrier. Its purpose is to keep moisture in and environmental aggressors out. It plays a vital role in protecting the skin’s surface and lower layers from external threats. It also plays a role in keeping the skin’s delicate microbiome –which is the balance of good and bad bacteria – balanced.
So how do we know if your barrier stops working as intended; protecting our skin and keeping it healthy? This is known as having an impaired or compromised skin barrier and there are key signs to look for.
How to know if your skin barrier is compromised.
Your skin may appear red or look dry and feel rough. After cleansing, your skin may feel tight and irritated and post blemish marks may take a longer than usual time to heal.
Have you ever experienced a time where your skin reacts to everything? Or have you ever found that your most-loved serum or moisturiser is no longer favourable, and leaves your skin burning and/or itchy? These are a common signs of impaired barrier function.
Your skin may also appear dehydrated and become flaky or be overcompensating for moisture loss and producing too much oil leaving it feeling greasy and prone to unusual breakouts.
If you are experiencing any or all of these signs, there is a chance your skin barrier is impaired.
What to do if you have an impaired skin barrier.
Here’s our recommended steps for nurturing it back to health.
Initially and until your skin returns to normal, pop aside exfoliating products including any accelerating acids or actives like Retinol. You may be able to reintroduce these slowly later however you want to avoid anything too stimulating or active for the time being.
But isn’t exfoliating regularly important?
Yes, it is. We all know the importance of regular exfoliation but sometimes too much of a good thing can leave the skin vulnerable. Similarly, there are times where the skin is unable to support these types of ingredients. Other factors that may lead to barrier impairment are pollution and other environmental stressors such as unprotected UV or harsh drying winds. Genetics, hormones and biological ageing all play a part as well.
So, what skincare regime should you follow?
The first step is to respect the integrity of the skin and minimise further disruption to barrier function by selecting a cleanser to use morning and evening that is "pH balanced". This type of cleanser will effectively remove excess sebum, perspiration, and debris from the skin without stripping or altering the skin's naturally occurring slightly acidic pH.
Morning and evening –
The second step is to protect and replenish the skin daily with products that have an affinity with the skin's naturally occurring acid mantle as well as those that protect from environmental aggression including damaging UV. Nurturing occlusive moisturisers help to prevent further moisture loss from the skin and allow the skin time to rebalance.
The final step in working towards returning your skin to optimum health is to look for ingredients that not only nourish the skin but help to protect it from further damage and work to repair compromised barrier protection. Ingredients such as Niacinamide (Vitamin B), Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E are particularly beneficial which are all contained in our range of skin-loving serums. These may be applied morning or evening underneath your moisturiser.
If you have any further questions about skin barrier health or would like a personal consultation, please book a live skin consult today.