Your skin barrier holds the key to skin health and beauty. It simultaneously locks in moisture and hydration while protecting the skin from harsh environmental toxins. So, when it gets damaged, your skin is sure to express it in many different skincare woes. From sensitive skin and dry skin to breakouts and flare-ups, skin barrier damage can show itself in various ways.
Fortunately, it’s more than possible to repair a damaged skin barrier. This guide from Nourishing Biologicals explains how.
What Is the Skin Barrier?
The skin on our face is made up of many layers, with the outermost layer referred to as “the skin barrier.”
The skin barrier has two main jobs: to keep out environmental toxins and free radicals while locking in hydration and moisture to prevent water loss.
When your moisture barrier works optimally, it performs its job just as it should. As a result, you may feel that your skin is soft and hydrated. However, if the skin barrier is damaged, you may notice dull, dry, or irritated skin.
What Are the Signs of a Damaged Skin Barrier?
Moisture and hydration are essential for many skin processes, such as skin cell turnover. So, if your skin barrier becomes damaged, you can experience many different symptoms.
Some signs to look out for include:
- Inflamed areas
- Increased sensitivity
- Bacterial infections
If you have pre-existing skin conditions, you might notice that they get worse as well when your lipid barrier is damaged.
What Causes a Damaged Skin Barrier?
Our skin barrier can get damaged if anything causes its lipids (A.K.A. naturally-occurring fats) to break down.
Some causes of a damaged skin barrier (e.g., genetics, aging) are out of our control. However, others directly stem from what we do — and don’t do.
Here are some things to watch out for that may be damaging your skin barrier:
- Overdoing some active ingredients: Active ingredients are skincare heroes that do exactly what they promise to do, whether it’s ramp up collagen production, reduce hyperpigmentation, or increase hydration. However, some active ingredients, like retinol, chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, or stripping face wash formulas with salicylic acid, can be irritating if used too often or in high concentrations. Mixing active ingredients may also compromise the skin barrier.
- Over-exfoliation: Exfoliating is a must for sloughing away dead skin cells, but if you do it more than once or twice per week, you’re likely doing too much. If your skin is often irritated after an exfoliating session, it may be a possible culprit behind your damaged skin barrier.
- Cleansingwithhotwater: A hot shower may feel amazing, but it’s certainly not doing your skin any favors. Washing with hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, compromising the skin barrier.
- Getting too much sun: We know full and well that the sun is a top cause of wrinkles and fine lines. Well, it doesn’t stop there. The sun can also evaporate the oils in the skin, leading to a compromised skin barrier. While a little sun exposure is necessary, the delicate skin on the face should always be protected with SPF or a wide brim hat.
- Not getting enough sleep: Lots of amazing things happen in our sleep, such as tissue repair — which includes the skin. When you’re chronically sleep-deprived, your skin barrier may not repair itself as well, showing signs of damage over time.
How Can I Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier?
Your skin is an amazing organ and, fortunately, is capable of healing itself.
If you experience a damaged skin barrier, then follow the following five steps to repair it:
1. Re-Examine Your Skincare Routine
More likely than not, the main source of the problem is your skincare routine.
Even if you don’t think your skincare products are irritating, they may have some hidden ingredients that can damage the skin.
Some skincare ingredients to watch out for include:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
- Alcohol (or ethanol)
- Essential oils
Of course, these are only some of the most common irritating ingredients. There may be potentially many others that are damaging your skin barrier. If in doubt, bring your skincare products to a dermatologist or cosmetologist to see if they’re safe for use.
2. Build a Simple and Gentle Skincare Routine
To be safe, put your normal skincare routine to the side (at least temporarily) and start with the basics. For a simple skincare routine, all you really need is a gentle cleanser, nourishing moisturizer, and SPF.
Although harsh cleansers promise to thoroughly cleanse your skin, they do so at a huge cost: dry, irritated, and tight skin. On the other hand, gentle cleansers — like our Miracular Cleanser — effectively remove makeup, dirt, and debris while keeping your skin’s natural oils intact.
Next, some moisturizers may feel rich and creamy but lack nourishing ingredients that lock in moisture. Our Miracular Essence is made with botanical ingredients that draw moisture to the skin and help strengthen the skin barrier for enhanced hydration.
Last but not least, wearing sunscreen or sunblock is incredibly important for enhanced skin barrier function. If you find mineral sunblock too chalky, you can use a chemical sunscreen that’s typically better absorbed by the skin. Or you can protect your skin the old-fashioned way — with a hat and a pair of sunglasses.
These three skincare essentials are all you need while you repair your skincare barrier. If they’re made with high-quality ingredients, we promise you won’t miss your other products!
3. Learn Gentle Cleansing Techniques
It may feel like the more you scrub, the cleaner your face will be. But how vigorously you wash your face doesn’t necessarily impact how clean it will be. The most important factor is an effective cleanser.
In addition, if you’re washing too harshly and using tools such as face brushes, you may seriously compromise your skin barrier.
To give your skin some time to heal, learn the art of gentle cleansing. This means using your fingers to apply a gentle cleanser, rinsing it off with lukewarm water, and staying clear of physical exfoliation until your skin is back to normal.
Depending on your skin type, you may also consider cleansing just once daily — at night, to remove dirt and debris. Whatever you do, never wash your face more than twice per day! (Unless, of course, you had a midday workout sesh.)
4. Look for Barrier-Repairing Ingredients
Your skin can do an awesome job healing all on its own. That said, you may be able ro boost it with some nourishing ingredients known for supporting damaged skin.
Some ingredients to look out for include:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Jojoba seed oil
Of course, there are many other nourishing ingredients that you can try. But whatever you do, don’t experiment with lesser-known ingredients — no matter how many promises they make. For the time being, try sticking to truly safe ingredients with a large evidence base to back up their use.
Last but not least, consider what you put on the inside as much as the outside. For great skin, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and fats is important.
For instance, supplementing with fish oil has been shown to protect the skin from the sun and increase its moisture content.
So, to supercharge your skin’s healing journey, make sure to eat healthy, too!
5. Give Your Skin Some Time
It may feel discouraging to give up your favorite skincare products and not see quick results. But depending on how damaged your skincare barrier is, you may need to give it at least a month before seeing significant changes.
Due to the skin cell turnover cycle, you can expect a fresh layover of skin to reveal itself after about 30 days. In some people, this may even take as long as 45 days.
So, stick to your new routine for at least a month (preferably two months) before you start enjoying the results of a healthy skin barrier.
Repairing a Damaged Skin Barrier With Nourishing Biologicals
To repair a damaged skin barrier, it’s important to stay clear of irritating active ingredients, avoid over-washing your face, and use nourishing ingredients that support the skin barrier in its healing.
Nourishing Biologicals is made with plant-based ingredients that are clinically proven to nourish the skin. For a simple, gentle, and healing skincare routine, our Miracular Line is all you need to see results — quick.
Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin | PMC
Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing? | NCBI
Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil’s Fatty Acids on the Skin | PMC
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