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What Is The Skin Barrier & Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

The skin barrier, also known as the epidermal barrier, is the outermost layer of the skin that acts as a protective shield against external environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays, and microorganisms. It is made up of lipids, ceramides, and other natural moisturizing factors that help to lock in moisture and prevent water loss.

The importance of the skin barrier has become a popular topic in skincare because a compromised skin barrier can lead to a variety of skin problems such as dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a healthy skin barrier to maintain healthy skin.

So how do you know if your skin barrier has been compromised? There are several signs that indicate your skin barrier is damaged. These include:

1. Dryness: If your skin feels tight, itchy or flaky, it may be a sign that your skin barrier is damaged.

2. Redness and inflammation: If your skin appears red, inflamed, or irritated, it is time to start focusing on strengthening and rebuilding the skin!

3. Breakouts: A damaged skin barrier can lead to an increase in breakouts, as the skin is more susceptible to bacteria and other irritants.

4. Sensitivity: If your skin is more sensitive than usual, or if it reacts to products that previously did not cause any issues, it may be a sign that your skin barrier is damaged.

5. Increased wrinkles or fine lines: A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased water loss, which can result in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Great. So my skin barrier is damaged, how do I know what caused the damage so I can avoid it in the future?
Several factors can damage the skin barrier. Some of them include:
1. Over-exfoliation: Over-exfoliation can strip away the natural oils and lipids from the skin, leading to a weakened skin barrier.
2. Harsh skincare products: Skincare products that contain harsh chemicals, fillers or cheap ingredients can irritate the skin and damage the skin barrier. We recommend working with a licensed professional to choose the proper home care for your specific skin type. Keep reading for some of our favorite products to heal and strengthen your skin barrier!
3. Environmental factors: Exposure to pollutants, UV rays, and extreme temperatures can weaken the skin barrier. Think: sunburns and windburn/chapped skin.

4. Poor diet and hydration: A poor diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as dehydration, can affect the overall health of the skin and weaken the skin barrier.

5. Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to having a weaker skin barrier, making it more susceptible to damage.
We have established my skin barrier needs some major TLC! Help!

There are several ways to repair the skin barrier:

1. Use gentle skincare products: Use products with gentle ingredients that do not contain harsh chemicals or high percentages of acids. Go low and slow when rebuilding the skin and easing back into your more active skincare.
2. Moisturize regularly: Use a moisturizer that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin, which help to strengthen the skin barrier and keep the skin hydrated. If you're not already slugging, now is a great time to start!

3. Avoid over-exfoliating: Over-exfoliating can strip away the natural oils and lipids from the skin, leading to a weakened skin barrier. Limit exfoliation to once or twice a week until the barrier is restored and you can ease back into a more progressive routine. A natural skin cycle if you will.

4. Protect the skin from environmental factors: Use sunscreen to protect the skin from UV rays and wear protective clothing to shield the skin from pollutants and extreme temperatures.

5. Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals can help to improve the health of the skin and repair the skin barrier.

6. Consider using a skin barrier repair cream: There are specialized creams available that contain ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, and panthenol that can help repair the skin barrier. Keep reading for our favorites!

Remember, repairing the skin barrier takes time and consistency, so it is essential to be patient and gentle with your skin.

Some of our favorite barrier building products are:

Amino Acid Epidermal Sealant Moisturizer Formulated to mimic the natural barrier of the skin. This elegant, rich formula infuses the skin with ceramides and lipids to provide a protective barrier from daily damage and seasonal changes. Excellent for frail, thin, dry, menopausal, sensitive, and season affect skin.
CBD Power Balm CBD Power Balm is excellent for use on dry and dehydrated skin. Infused with botanicals such as sunflower, grapeseed, and shea butter, these soothing oils act as a barrier to reduce irritation and calm the skin. This is one of our favorites for eczema!
Recover Ointment (available at Zero Nine) and a favorite for acne prone skin. Recovery Ointment protects and heals the skin after chemical treatments or any kind of irritation by locking in moisture and aiding the natural healing process. The medicinal properties of Whole Leaf Aloe Vera combined with Petrolatum speed up post-peel recovery and relieve dry, chapped or cracked skin by moisturizing the affected areas.

Now that we have addressed healing the skin topically, let's go over a few of our favorite oral supplements to strengthen the skin barrier and help to protect against future damage.

Sea Buckthorn Oil (our holy grail!) Improves skin hydration, supports skin health, reduces inflammation and boosts collagen production.
Omegas A necessity for healthy, radiant skin. And a nonnegotiable for our acne prone patients.
Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids (fats) found in the skin that help to maintain the skin's barrier function and keep it hydrated. When taken orally as a supplement, ceramides can provide a range of benefits including: improved hydration and elasticity.

Will you be incorporating any of these barrier building tips into your skincare routine?

  • Yes!

  • I'm already taking care of my barrier health.

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