Welcome to the second blog post in my Skin Barrier Series! The skin barrier is still trending on social, but it's more than just another beauty buzzword and TikTok trend. Here, you'll gain insight into the science behind skin barrier repair and why it's so important if you're looking to natural, healthy and glowing skin.
You'll also learn helpful tips to repair your skin barrier when it becomes damaged and in need of some extra care.
What is a Skin Barrier?
Quick reminder: your skin barrier is essential to your body's immune system and overall health. It is the outer layer of your skin that holds your body together and shields it from pollution, allergens, moisture loss, and pathogens.
There are three key components to the skin barrier:
a. Stratum Corneum is made up of flattened, dead skin cells called corneocytes embedded in a matrix of fats that form a protective barrier to prevent water loss and maintain skin hydration.
b. Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF), a mixture of water-soluble compounds found in the stratum corneum that helps retain moisture in the skin.
c. Acid Mantle, the skin's surface with a slightly acidic pH that discourages the growth of harmful bacteria and helps maintain a healthy skin microbiome.
Signs of Skin Barrier Damage
The tell-tale signs of a compromised skin barrier include dry, itchy, dull, red or irritated skin, breakouts or flare-ups of rosacea and eczema. Of course, it all depends on your skin type, e.g. if you're an oily skin type, your skin might produce more oil and be prone to breakouts. If you are a dry skin type, you may be more likely to become rough or flaky. If you have sensitive skin, you may be more prone to irritation so extra love and care is essential.
If you're experiencing skin barrier damage, you're not alone. It's so easy to unknowingly disrupt your skin. I know first-hand (see image below) how this feels and frustrating and confusing it can be to navigate the overwhelming amount of skincare products available that claim to offer an overnight fix.
It took me some time and effort to figure out how to repair my own skin barrier. Through my journey, I learned about the ingredients in my skincare products, trained for 3 years in organic skincare formulation, and developed a simple, effective 4-step skincare routine for healthy, glowing skin.
Key Causes of Damage to your Skin Barrier
- Using harsh cleansers and over-using high strength skincare like exfoliating acids, vitamin C and retinol
- Environmental factors e.g. UV radiantion and polllution
- Extreme temperatures and low humidity levels
- Age-related changes in skin structure
- Certain skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis)
Why Does Skin Barrier Repair Matter?
While skin barrier repair may be a popular trend on TikTok, it has always been a top priority at Pamoja because taking care of your body's natural shield is essential for achieving happy skin. Here's why it matters:
a. Protection: A well-functioning skin barrier protects the body from harmful substances, preventing infections and irritations.
b. Hydration: The barrier minimises water loss from the skin, keeping it hydrated.
c. Sensitivity: A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased sensitivity and reactivity to environmental triggers.
d. Ageing well: An intact barrier can help slow down the appearance of premature ageing signs, such as wrinkles and fine lines.
How does the skin barrier repair itself?
Your body has a natural ability to heal itself! When it comes to repairing the skin barrier, there are several processes involved in restoring its integrity and function, including:
a. Cellular Renewal: Our skin goes through a continuous process of cellular turnover, where new skin cells are created in the inner layers of the epidermis and move outward. This helps replace any damaged or shed skin cells with new, healthy ones, which ultimately promotes our skin's barrier repair.
b. Lipid Synthesis: Our skin relies on a specific type of cell called keratinocytes to produce essential lipids such as ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids. These lipids play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum, which prevents water loss.
c. Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF): amino acids and urea are naturally present in the stratum corneum. These components help attract and retain water, thereby keeping the skin hydrated.
d. Inflammation Regulation: The skin's immune response plays a crucial role in repairing damage and injuries by managing inflammation and facilitating the healing process.
Your skin is amazing!
However, if you encounter skin barrier damage, you can aid the natural repair processes by tweaking your routine and being mindful of the ingredients in your products. These will help in preventing damage and enhancing skin barrier repair.
Which Skincare Ingredients Repair the Skin Barrier?
Here's a quick summary of the key types of skincare ingredients that support the skin barrier repair process:
a. Ectoin and Glycoin: multifunctional active ingredients with outstanding efficacy. Clinically proven to provide barrier strengthening and cell-protection benefits.
b. Ceramides: These lipids are crucial for maintaining the stratum corneum's structure and function. Plant oils like safflower oil contain ceramides.
c. Hyaluronic Acid: Known for its excellent water-retaining properties, it helps hydrate and plump the skin.
d. Niacinamide: This ingredient can help improve the skin barrier by reducing water loss and inflammation.
e. Glycerin: A humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin.
f. Antioxidants: These help protect the skin from environmental damage and support repair processes.
Click here to see the Instagram reel below.
Top Tips for Skin Barrier Repair
Identify the trigger: can you pinpoint what caused the damage to your skin barrier? Is there a particular product, ingredient or step in your routine that causes a flare-up? It could be that artificial fragrances and colours, sulfates, or other potentially irritating ingredients have caused irritation and can be easily swtiched with gentler alternatives.
Avoid over exfoliating: over using harsh scrubs or high strength ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid can trigger irritation. These ingredients should be used with caution e.g. aren't meant to be used daily or mixed with one another, they need to be cycled carefully.
Keep your skincare routine it simple and consistent: when healing your skin barrier, a patient less is more approach works. A simple skincare routine is best for the vast majority, focusing on the holy grail of cleansing, hydration, moisturising and SPF protection.
Gentle cleansing: Switch to a mild cleanser that won't strip away your skin's natural oils. Avoid hot water and opt for lukewarm water instead. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel, leaving some moisture on the skin.
Moisture and hydration: Up the use of products that strengthen, nourish and restore moisture and hydration and help to prevent water loss. Look out for ingredients like hydrating humectants, which attract water to the skin, such as hyaluronic and glycerin; emollients that soften and smooth the surface, like sea buckthorn and marula oil; and occlusives, which sit on top and seal in moisture. Add in gentle actives such as Niacinamide and Ectoin.
Protect your skin daily: from sun and pollution damage.
Self-care: drink adequate water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. A well-hydrated body can support the health of your skin barrier. Maintain a healthy lifestyle - eat well, sleep well and practice self-care.
Consider a humidifier: If you live in a dry environment or during the winter months when indoor heating can dry out the air, using a humidifier can add moisture and help prevent further skin barrier damage.
Need a skin barrier repair routine?
Pamoja's 3-step fragrance-free skincare ritual is soothing, comforting and contains gentle actives that help to repair, nourish and hydrate your skin barrier, helping it to be more resilient in the longer term and prone to fewer flare-ups. These gentle skin saviours are free from essential oils, synthetic preservatives and other known irritants like SLS making them ideal for ultra sensitive skin types.
The routine is simple to use and easy to love, it's a soothing ritual for a moment of calm at the end of a long day.
You'll find plumping, hydrating hyaluronic and glycerin, ceramide rich safflower oil, skin-softening plant oils like marula and sea buckthorn rich in fatty acids, antioxidant carrot root and vitamin E and barrier-strengthening Niacinamide. Your skin will also love barrier-strengthening natural actives like Ectoin and Glycoin, derived from the resurrection plant designed for sensitive skin yet backed by science.
"I’m 51 and my skin was dry and flakey. After the cleansing balm, it feels supple and clean. With the radiance booster on top though, it feels nourished without being oily or blocking pores. Absolutely love them".
Judith A. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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TLDR: your skin barrier acts like a protective shield, and when damaged it can lead to excess dryness, sensitivity and other skin concerns like dermatitis. Protecting and repairing your skin barrier is key to happy, healthy glowing skin. Keeping your routine simple, avoiding known irritants and including key ingredients to nourish, hydrate and add moisture to your skin is key to restoring your skin's natural protective barrier.
Thank you for reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed it!
Copyright: Sarah Taylor, certified skincare formulator and founder of Pamoja.
30 July 2023
Pamoja is a high-performing natural skincare brand designed to help you nourish your skin and nurture yourself. Now with over 400+ five-star reviews. As seen in Vogue, Stylist, Woman's Health, Health and Wellbeing Magazine, Natural Health Magazine, Top Sante and more.
** Disclaimer - The content of this blog is for your general information only and is not designed to diagnose or cure health issues. The recommendations in this blog are based on my research and experience as a trained skincare formulator and 40+ woman. Ongoing skin problems can indicate an underlying condition, e.g. allergic eczema, dermatitis, urticaria, or psoriasis. However, trying to resolve persistent problems can be complex, so it's always best to consult a doctor if you are concerned about ongoing skin problems to identify and treat the underlying causes.
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