Ask Amarte: I Think My Skin Barrier is Damaged, What Should I Do?
What is our skin barrier?
First thing's first. You may be curious as to what your natural skin barrier is. We know our skin is primarily made up of three layers: the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (middle layer) and hypodermis (otherwise known as subcutaneous or fatty tissue). Simply explained, your skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis, otherwise known as the stratum corneum, that when properly taken care of, acts as a protector for your body. What exactly does it do? Your skin barrier serves two purposes: to keep the good things in while keeping the bad stuff out. It protects you against physical pollutants (such as environmental pollution and hazardous substances) as well as UV radiation from sun exposure. The skin barrier is vital to skin’s hydration, suppleness, and resilience. Allergens and possibly harmful compounds stand no chance if your skin barrier is at its a-game.
What are the signs of skin barrier damage?
When these outer layers remain healthy, your skin appears smooth, elastic, and lush. However, if the outer layers of the skin are compromised, your skin will start appearing duller and can feel very tight and/or dry. When your skin's barrier is destroyed or weakened, the key compounds that maintain keeping skin cells sealed, such as ceramides and essential fats, are lost or unable to remain in proper balance. This causes your skin to lose water and become more sensitive to external influences. Dysfunction of the skin barrier's essential functions can manifest in a variety of manners, including rosacea and eczema. Other signs include chronic skin irritation, skin that is extremely itchy, dehydrated and lifeless, hyperpigmentation, recurrent skin infections, and wounds that take a lot longer than usual to heal. A damaged skin barrier makes it much harder to remove signs of aging, acne, and hyperpigmentation. Properly taking care of your skin barrier is imperative for the health and wellbeing of your skin.
What causes skin barrier damage?
Skin barrier damage is frequently caused by using abrasive cleansers, acne treatments, and chemicals that deprive your skin of its natural beneficial oils. We have the tendency to be very aggressive when it comes to our skin and often overuse ingredients and products that end up doing more harm than good. This often occurs when we start listening to skin advice from friends, or influencers on social media, because the number one rule is that not all skin types are the same and every individual has different needs when it comes to their skin! Depending on your skin type, exfoliating too aggressively, plucking, as well as the overuse of astringents and drying ingredients in skin care are all major causes of harm.
Let's break down some other avoidable culprits of skin barrier damage:
- Pollution and smog
- Wind and severe climate changes
- Harmful UV rays
- Smoking cigarettes
- Sleep deprivation
- Stressful life habits
- Lack of nutrients in your daily diet
How to repair a damaged skin barrier
It may be that your skin has been overstimulated and requires a break to recuperate, or it may be overexposure to outside sources of pollutants. It may be necessary to peel back on some of the products you’re currently using and stick to the basics, or you may be missing key ingredients your skin craves. These questions are best answered by a professional, which is why your first step to repair a damaged skin barrier is to start at your dermatologist’s office.
1. See a dermatologist. These people are experts that will question you about everything you're doing and using in your current skincare routine, and help you pare it down to basic, nourishing items that are necessary to improve the health of your skin.
2. Use gentle cleansing products. Many people, in their attempt to clean their skin, utilize solutions that are overly harsh and can dehydrate the skin. This can have several negative implications, including making your skin seem dull and dry. It's also possible that your skin could feel tight and painful to the touch. You should easily be able to remove any foundation, debris, and oil off your face without causing damage to the skin. We recommend a double cleanse regimen starting with our Daily Wonder® Cleansing Foam, a whipped-to-perfection cleanser made to refresh and pamper all skin types including oily and acne-prone. Follow that product using our Daily ExfoliPowder®, a plant seed-based polishing cleanser that removes dry, dull skin to reveal the smooth, radiant face beneath. Both gentle cleansers will remove all makeup and debris without being abrasive on even the most sensitive of skin.
3. Support your skin barrier with nourishing products. The hydrators and moisturizers you use should be rich in emollients including refined plant oils, safety-certified next-generation lubricants, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. They assist in the creation of a barrier that prevents penetration of damaging pollutants. This serves to maintain hydration in your skin, preventing redness and inflammation. We suggest trying Aqua Veil® Pure Hydration Serum, a cucumber infused ultra-light serum that optimizes hydration by releasing droplets of pure H2O onto the skin to form a protective veil. This unique serum gives skin a youthful radiance. As far as moisturizers go, if your skin needs something lighter weight, our antioxidant rich Aqua Lotion® is an ideal choice as it’s perfect for normal to oily skin and improves tone and texture while adding softness. If your skin is craving a richer moisturizer, Wonder Cream® is your best option as it’s packed with anti-aging and rejuvenative ingredients. This cream also helps diminish fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, and freckles.
4. Practice self care. Take care of yourself as a whole, and your skin will glow. In addition to your proper skincare routine, try limiting your daily stress levels, consume healthy skin-friendly food and drinks, exercise, maintain a healthy sleeping schedule, and simply, enjoy your life.
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Tips, tricks, and skincare advice from an experienced dermatologist.