The last year and a half has been a rollercoaster ride for skincare. We went from slathering anything and everything on our faces *cough* including some unruly DIY treatments *cough*, to following skinimalism as our new skincare mantra. Thanks to the sudden social media boom and a whole lot of time to kill, skin health became a significant part of everyone’s self-care journey. Moving on from the peels, acids, and face masks, we’ve now suddenly come to give our skin barrier (or damaged skin barrier) the importance it deserves. But why?
What is the skin barrier?
Meet the stratum corneum aka your skin’s moisture barrier. It’s the outermost layer of your epidermis and is responsible for your skin’s overall health. It comprises the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. Your epidermis in itself contains the three different types of cells:
- Keratinocytes - These are the cells that form your skin. Think of them as the building blocks that are bound by the ‘cement’ aka your natural oils and ceramides that hold it all together to form a barrier
- Melanocytes - These are the melanin producing cells. This is what defines your skin tone. Epidermal melanin is known to absorb UV rays and protect the skin’s layers beneath from any damage.
- Langerhan - These cells help build your skin’s immunity towards viruses, bacteria, and fungus.
The stratum corneum has two main purposes. Firstly, it locks in the good and keeps out the bad. Since your skin is the largest organ in your body, it is vulnerable to external toxins. This barrier acts like a bouncer and prevents pollution, UV rays, and other toxic elements from penetrating into your body. Secondly, the skin barrier secures the top layer and latches on to its natural moisture, by preventing transepidermal water loss. Lack of moisture triggers a plethora of skin issues, resulting in damaged and dull skin.
In simpler terms, a healthy skin barrier equals healthy, hydrated, and glowing skin –– and that is why it’s suddenly shot to fame and given the importance it deserves.
There are three protective layers on the surface of your skin. The microbiome layer fights bad bacteria and fungi and pathogens, the acid mantle forms a protective layer and controls infection, oil production, and leaves your skin soft. Lastly, the lipid layer prevents water loss, free radical damage, and acts a guard for foreign substances, i.e. soaking in the good and keeping out the bad. When these three layers of our skin are irritated, it causes a myriad of skincare issues to break out.
Other than the usual factors including pollution, stress, UV exposure, sleepless nights, and a poor diet (like most skin issues), there are a whole lot of physical stressors that can lead to the damaged skin barrier.
One of the most common causes includes using products that strip your skin off it’s natural oils. If you went a little cuckoo on the skincare bandwagon during the lockdown, you’ll probably be able to relate to this. The last year saw people overdoing their skincare routines –– over exfoliating, scrubbing their skin way too hard, using damaging DIY ingredients to replace their skincare products, using harsh cleansers, heavy acne treatments, and really potent acids are the few factors that can cause damaged skin barrier. The result? Irritated, over sensitive skin that looks angry and definitely unhappy.
The damaged skin barrier
Think of your skin barrier as bricks. When the cement between those blocks becomes weak, your skin is more susceptible to breaking down and falling apart. This often results in irritation, water loss, inflammation, dehydration...basically, skin that looks and feels unhealthy. The good thing? It’s pretty easy to tell if you have damaged skin barrier.
Let’s play a game shall we? Put a finger down for every skincare reaction you currently face. Ready, set, go!
- Lacklustre & dullness
- Skin infections
- Rosacea & eczema flare-ups
- A delay in wound healing
- Flakiness & peeling
- Increased sensitivity
- More evident fine lines
Even if you just have one finger down, it is most likely caused by a damaged skin barrier. Likewise, so are most major skincare woes –– which means taking care of that barrier needs to be the utmost priority.
The fix for damaged skin barrier
If the fun, little game above scared you a tad (especially if you had five or more fingers down), don’t freak out, the damage is reversible. All good things come to those who wait –– good skin also comes to those who are patient. Follow a skincare routine with as minimal products as possible to repair the damaged skin barrier and bounce back from the trauma you just put it through. Take a sabbatical from strong actives and make way for those extra hydrating, skin barrier strengthening products that’ll help renew your skin.
Rich in Omegas 6 & 9 and vitamin E, this facial cream cleanser replenishes your skin’s natural moisture barrier. An instant hydrator, the formula also soothes the skin, brightens it, and protects it from environmental stressors –– leaving you with a natural radiance.
A detoxifying mask that is enriched with ingredients that help soothe irritation, reduce redness and eczema, and boost your skin’s overall hydration levels. It aids in regeneration by providing oxygen to your skin cells and adapts according to your skin type –– making it perfect for anyone and everyone.
A potent mix of antioxidants and phytocomponents, the Longevity Serum helps boost collagen levels, reduces sun damage, and promotes healthy cell production. It heals damaged skin, reduces inflammation and redness, while promoting a firm, plump, and glowing complexion.
A rich yet lightweight serum + moisturiser, this Soothing Cream duo heals, reduces irritation, and repairs and restores your skin’s barrier. Enriched with omegas 3 & 6, botanical extracts, and antioxidants, the ingredients work together to calm sensitive skin and provide long-term relief, while repairing the damaged skin barrier.
The ultimate soother, restorer, and protector for your skin, our Hydrating Cream locks in all the moisture and increases your skin’s natural radiance. It also shields the skin from free-radical damage, while increasing your moisture levels and boosting recovery.
Meet the healing oil that works extra time while you sleep! Our Nourishing Sleep Oil comprises a mix of seed oils, chamomile, calendula, and Amazonian oils, that promote skin healing. Rich in essential fatty acids, terpenes, vitamins, botanical, and squalane, the oil boosts hydration levels, improves skin texture, and strengthens the skin at a cellular level.
To prevent future damage to your skin’s barrier you have to keep two things in mind –– protect and strengthen. Stop experimenting with harsh products and don’t go overboard with a multiple step skincare routine –– it’s all fun and games, until you are left in tears with a damaged skin barrier. Start small, be gentle, and address one problem at a time, rather than going a little haywire with different concerns. Give your skin time to react and adjust and always listen to what it’s trying to tell you.
Your skin barrier is a reflection of your skin’s overall health –– so keep calm, be kind, and be mindful about what you’re slathering on.
Tatiana Dias’ skincare journey began all thanks to her long-standing battle with acne. Then on, she learnt to be comfortable in her own skin, yet give it all the TLC possible — and that’s what started her serious love affair with beauty writing. She’s written for magazines such as Femina, ELLE India, and Vogue India.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and are for information purposes only and not medical advice. Further, they do not reflect the opinions or views of Aminu Wellness Pvt Ltd or any of its directors. Any content provided by the author(s) are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone, or anything.