How To Maintain A Healthy Skin Barrier

Healthy skin barrier

Mentioned repeatedly by brands, journalists, and on social media, we know that protecting the skin barrier is of paramount importance to keeping the skin happy and healthy. But, do we actually know how to look after our skin barrier or how to spot the signs that it’s been compromised? Read on to find out. 

What Is Your Skin Barrier And Why Does It Matter? 

Your skin is made up of several different layers, and the skin barrier is the outermost one. It’s the bit of the skin that we see and it’s made up of a brick-and-mortar type structure; the skin cells represent bricks and lipids and act as the cement which holds the skin cells together.   

The job of the skin barrier is to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Holding onto hydration, which is the key to healthy skin, is its number one priority, closely followed by shielding the skin from irritants and environmental factors. When the skin barrier is intact and healthy, the complexion will look hydrated, plump and feel soft and smooth.   

What Happens When Your Skin Barrier Is Damaged? 

When the skin barrier function is compromised, the cells and lipids become ‘unglued’. Consequently, the skin loses its ability to prevent water loss and is less able to protect itself from irritants. 

What Causes Skin Barrier Damage? 

Somewhat ironically, one of the biggest threats to a healthy skin barrier is the products we use to try and improve our skin. It’s very easy to cause unintentional damage by over-using harsh acids, actives, and acne treatments. Over-exfoliating can also harm the skin barrier, as can washing your face with water that is too hot.  

Environmental factors that can weaken the skin barrier include UV rays, blue light, pollution, and harsh weather conditions. Lifestyle factors, such as stress, smoking, and lack of sleep, can also negatively impact skin barrier function. Age is a factor too, as the skin barrier naturally weakens as we get older.  

What Does A Damaged Skin Barrier Look Like?

In general, if your skin is looking and feeling out of sorts, then chances are that the skin barrier is damaged. A compromised barrier can manifest in small or large areas on the face and body. Tell-tale symptoms include redness, dryness, flakiness, tightness and heightened sensitivity. Skin will often look dull, feel rough and be more prone to breakouts. Hyperpigmentation, inflammation, rashes and delayed wound healing are also signs of a damaged skin barrier 

How To Repair Your Skin Barrier 

If you’re wondering what to do when your skin barrier is damaged, the good news is that you can restore your complexion to its former glory. Simplifying your skincare routine is the best place to start. Pare down your products, take a break from acids and actives, and start using skincare that nourishes and hydrates.   

Replenishing moisture is the key to repairing your skin barrier. Even if your skin is oily, congested, or acne-prone, if the barrier is damaged then it’s essential to incorporate moisturisation into your skincare routine. You should also take a break from exfoliating, avoid using hot water on your face, and always wear an SPF every single day.  

Which Skincare Ingredients Help To Repair A Damaged Skin Barrier 

Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid are the stars of the show as they restore lost hydration and moisture. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E are also important ingredients as they protect the skin from free radical damage. Opt for products that contain skin-replenishing ingredients such as Niacinamide, Squalene, Aloe Vera, Borage Oil, Shea Butter and Primrose Oil. And look out for products that have been specifically formulated to restore and maintain the skin barrier.

5-Step Skincare Routine For Skin Barrier Repair And Protection 

1.CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser 

Kick-start your skin barrier boosting routine with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, a gentle yet effective cleanser for damaged skin barrier repair and protection.  Formulated, with three Ceramides to lock-in moisture and Hyaluronic Acid, this non-foaming face wash is non-irritating and suitable for even the most sensitive of skin. The Ceramides in CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser are encapsulated and released slowly over time, ensuring long-lasting benefits to skin barrier function. 

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

2. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum 

Once the skin has been gently cleansed, apply La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum which has been specifically formulated to restore, protect, and hydrate the skin barrier. Clinically proven to reduce itchiness, dryness, tightness and other symptoms of sensitivity, the soothing serum instantly provides intense hydration that lasts for up to 48 hours. Enriched with 0.1% Neurosensine and with a light and refreshing texture, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum has been designed for use on sensitive, reactive and allergy-prone skin.   

 La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum

3. Dermalogica Barrier Repair 

Step number three is Dermalogica Barrier Repair, a waterless moisturiser that helps restore and maintain a healthy skin barrier. Formulated with vitamins C and E, Oil Of Evening Primrose and Borage Seed Oil, the rich moisturiser protects the skin from free radical damage and reinforces the skin’s lipid barrier layer. Enriched with Dermalogica’s exclusive UltraCalming Complex, the velvety cream contains Oat and Botanical Actives to soothe the skin and minimise symptoms of discomfort.   

Dermalogica Barrier Repair

4. Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 

With year-round SPF protection crucial to maintaining a healthy skin barrier, Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 should be applied daily, after moisturisation. Enriched with powerful antioxidants, the vegan-friendly sunscreen also contains anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and sebum-controlling technology. With an innovative oil-free, dry-touch texture, the ultra-light gel provides broad-spectrum protection and protects the health of the skin. Suitable for all skin types, Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50, which dries to a matt finish, is particularly recommended for sensitive and spot-prone skin.   

Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50

5. Medik8 Advanced Night Restore 

Repair your damaged skin barrier while you sleep with Medik8 Advanced Night Restore. The nourishing night cream provides optimal hydration to compromised skin and is formulated with Midnight Repair Complex, which contains a cell-repairing peptide and Ceramides to restore the skin barrier function. Enriched with antioxidants to protect against free radicals, the restorative cream heals and repairs daily damage, provides intense moisturisation and helps to improve the visible sign of ageing.  

Medik8 Advanced Night Restore

Written by Sarah Blake

Want to enhance that sparkle in your eyes? Read our guide to the best eye treatments to make your eyes 'pop' here. 


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