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How to Achieve a Healthy Skin Barrier

February 6, 2024

Looking to achieve a strong and healthy skin barrier? We hear you! Having a strong and healthy skin barrier is essential for keeping your skin looking its best. This outermost layer of your skin acts as the first line of defense against irritants, allergens, microbes, and environmental pollutants.

When your barrier is damaged or compromised, it can lead to a variety of skin issues like dryness, itching, redness, acne breakouts, and sensitivity. That’s why it’s so important to maintain and support your skin’s barrier function. Below are some tips on how to achieve a healthy skin barrier!

By: Mackenzie, Licensed Esthetician

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What Does My Skin Barrier Do?

Did you know our skin is the largest organ and it is mainly made up of 3 layers?

First there’s the epidermis, the outer thin layer. Then the dermis, the thick middle layer. Last, the subcutaneous fatty layer Your skin barrier has several functions that it protects against:

Pollution

Ultraviolet rays 

Irritation, inflammation and infection 

Dehydration 

Toxins 

Our skin barrier helps regulate water loss from the inside out, retains moisture, and keeps your skin hydrated. It also helps block entry to most topical drugs or those you put on your skin. 

What Can Damage Your Skin Barrier?

Below are some of the most common ways your skin barrier can become damaged. Not all of these will affect everyone’s skin the same way. While this may seem like a long list of things to avoid, trying to avoid as many as possible is ideal.

Causes of skin barrier damage: 

  • Dry or humid environment, along with overly hot or cold weather 
  •  Allergens, irritants, and pollutants
  • Poor Diet, Smoking 
  • Too much sun exposure 
  • Taking baths/showers with water that is too hot
  • Low-quality skincare products, including harsh soaps or detergents 
  • Certain medications 
  • Overwashing or exfoliating: This is a big one, especially in skincare. A lot of people mistake their skin for being dry and will keep exfoliating when it could be a loss of moisture in the skin which means the barrier is compromised and exfoliating or using any harsh products will make it a lot worse. 

How To Know If Your Skin Barrier Is Compromised

Everyone’s skin will respond to the above factors in different ways. There are some general symptoms or red flags you can look for to know if your skin barrier has been compromised. Some may experience one of these, while others may experience many. Again, everyone’s skin is different!

Symptoms of a compromised skin barrier:

  • Lack of skin elasticity 
  • Itchy, dry skin 
  • Wrinkles 
  • Discoloration 
  • Water loss 
  • Thinning of the epidermal layer (outermost layer) 
  • Visibility bacteria infections

What does a healthy skin barrier look and feel like?:

When healthy, the skin will present itself as smooth, soft, and plump, also it will look clear and radiant.  So how can you both achieve and maintain a healthy skin barrier?

  • Taking care of your skin is so important. Good skincare not only keeps your skin soft, strong, and healthy but will also avoid skin problems as you age. 
  • Avoid too much sun exposure. Harsh UV rays can cause a lot of damage and speed up the process of aging skin. It can also cause fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer. Wear your SPF daily even if you do not leave your house. If you find yourself being out in the sun for a prolonged period of time make sure you are reapplying. Protect your skin with clothes and or hats, especially during hot summer days. 
  • Moisturize daily! Moisturizers will hold water into your skin barrier. Most moisturizers are water-based and will contain glycerin and lactic acid that will pull water into the skin. 
  • Make sure you are being gentle with your skin and avoid long hot baths or showers. 
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water! Taking supplements can help aid in skin health. A high-quality Omega-3 fish oil is great for keeping the skin healthy. 

If you’re still unsure about the state of your skin barrier, you can always schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our providers! They’ll assess your skin and work with you to address any concerns you might have. They can also suggest the right skin care products to help restore your skin barrier’s health.