Human skin acts as the primary barrier between the body and the environment. Nobody really thinks about how much our skin does for us, we all just want it to look pretty but in order for that to happen, we truly need to understand it a bit more so that when changes happen, we have a better understanding on how to proceed with care and caution and what type of modifications we need to make in our own beauty routines in order to make the skin happy and functioning the way it's meant to again.
WHAT IS THE SKIN BARRIER?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your epidermis (and the epidermis is the outer layer of the two main layers of cells that make up your skin). A healthy skin barrier keeps irritants out, while locking natural oils and moisture in. An unhealthy skin barrier doesn’t really act as a barrier at all…instead, it allows irritants to penetrate into your skin, and that can weaken it and prevent it from functioning properly to maintain your skin’s health. This can also manifest itself in the form of dry, irritated red skin. Signs of a compromised skin barrier are often mistaken for other skin concerns such as acne or rosacea which then gets mistreated making things much more worse!!
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SIGNS OF A DISRUPTED SKIN BARRIER?
1. Sudden dryness
2. Irritated skin
4. Scaly and dehydrated complexions
5. Stinging and or burning sensations
6. Flakiness and peeling
7. Tightness (dehydration of moisture deprived skin)
10. Increased breakouts
11. Rough skin to the touch
WHAT CAN DISRUPT YOU SKIN BARRIER?
Over exfoliating- You don't want to overdo it!! For example, you don't want to manually exfoliate and then right after put a chemical exfoliant on top. Space those out and always incorporate a chemical exfoliant slowly into your regimen so your skin adjusts. This is the key to using exfoliants successfully. Another example, doubling up exfoliants like using retin-A and AHA's together, this will surely disrupt your barrier. Remember, obtaining skin goals is a process and over using products will not get you there faster!
Cooler weather-specifically constant temperature changes (heated homes, cold outside temps).
Sun exposure- The sun's ultraviolet rays (UV) are the chief cause of skin damage!! You should just avoid sun exposure all together)
Overusing skin actives when the skin is not ready- Always SLOWLY incorporate products especially if you have a history of "sensitive" skin. Find the frequency and concentration that works for you and apply products with potent ingredients at different times of the day. Not all ingredients play well together, become familiar with them so you are helping your skin, not causing it harm!
Using harsh cleansers that strip moisture- If your skin feels tight after cleansing, you need to switch cleansers to one that doesn't. Check out our Petal Powder that is designed to deep clean without stripping the skin of it's essential moisture.
Using hot water- Always cleanse your face with lukewarm water!
Stress- Yup, stress sucks for everything and causes inflammation from within which then can manifest it's ugliness on your skin. Hard to avoid completely but stress can be managed so it doesn't wreak havoc on your body!
Drinking Alcohol- Alcohol is super dehydrating for the body and the skin. It also causes inflammation which can do some serious damage to your skin and can cause capillaries to burst (you know those squiggly red or purples veins).
Aging- the barrier starts to get more vulnerable after the age of 45 do to hormones. The skin also starts to become thinner, making transepidermal water loss more likely to happen then in previous years.
Skincare treatments such as lasers, professional strength peels, dermaplaning, microneedling etc. These treatments have wonder anti-aging benefits but ALWAYS stop using actives 1 week prior to and 1 week post treatment. During the healing process, it's wise to use a barrier repair product to help the healing process.
Alcohol Based Toners- Alcohols are super drying and irritating. It's best to stay away from these all together!
WHAT DO I DO IF MY SKIN BARRIER IS COMPROMISED?
1. Simplify and adjust your regimen- If you suspect your barrier is disrupted, first thing you should do is take a break from ALL actives and only use a barrier repair product like HYDROFLORA Barrier Repair Oil Gel. This doesn't mean you will never be able to use skin actives, this just means for the time being (and it might be as short as a couple of days) you need to focus solely on repairing the skin barrier!!
2. Reduce cleansing- Try and reduce your cleansing from 2x a day to 1x. Even if you use a gentle cleanser like Petal Powder, the reduction of cleansing helps! You can even switch to a micellar water cleanser for the time being. Micellar water requires a cotton pad and the micellar water. Apply only your moisturizer after cleansing until your barrier is happy again.
3. Hydrate- No brainer, you want to keep the skin moisturized. If after an hour of moisturizer application you find that your skin feels tight or dry, gently tap some more moisturizer into the skin to keep it hydrated.
4. Take a break from makeup- Let your skin breathe and heal. If your skin barrier is compromised, applying foundation to the face or makeup can invite unwanted bacteria into the skin which you do not want. If that happens, there is a good chance you will breakout or even worse, get an infection!
5. Supplement your diet- Eat omega-rich foods such wild caught salmon, flaxseed and nuts and add supplements like fish oil or evening primrose that are high is essential fatty acids for hydration from the inside out.
6. Cut the alcohol- We know, sorry! It's just not good for you or your skin!
7. Never skin SPF- Even when you are not planning on leaving the house, spf is a much every day whether you are having skin barrier issues or not!
The good news is if your skin barrier is disrupted, now you know how to identify it and what to do to fix it. The body is pretty amazing at fixing itself as long as you stop exposing it to the culprit and you help guide it through the repairing process. Just be vigilant and aware and you should have a happy, healthy skin barrier for life. Remember, without a healthy skin barrier, it will be impossible to crush your skin goals. Healthy skin barrier should ALWAYS be the first step in reaching your skin goals.