Q. I think my skin barrier might be damaged? How can I repair it?
A. The skin barrier is crucial for healthy skin, so strengthening that barrier is key! Let’s go over the necessities of skin barrier repair!
What Does It Do?
The lipid-barrier (i.e skin barrier) has two main functions! One, to stop allergens and contaminants like bacteria from sneaking through. Two, to reduce the amount of trans-epidermal water loss.
Skin Barrier Structure
Buckle in, we have an epidermal lesson to teach you! The stratum corneum (fancy talk for the outer-most layer of the skin) is arranged in a ‘brick and mortar’ structure. A mosaic of flattened corneocytes, or ‘bricks,’ snuggled in a lipid-rich extracellular matrix, forms the ‘mortar.’ The extracellular matrix is a network of extracellular macromolecules – collagen, enxymes, etc – that give support to surrounding cells!
This structure is organized in parallel stacks known as lamellar bilayers, and these layers are water-repellent and composed of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. They restrict the loss of water and electrolytes while simultaneously blocking allergens and other contaminating pathogens!
Damaged Skin Barrier
When your skin barrier is healthy, it will have the right amount of lipids, retain moisture, be resilient and flexible! But we can disrupt this beautiful balance in many ways:
- Too many active ingredients
- Aggressive treatments
- And more!
With this damaged skin barrier, the physical manifestations can happen in a multitude of ways: redness, dryness, flakiness, inflammation, acne, or just general discomfort.
Ingredients That Can Help
After hearing how scary a damaged skin barrier can be, let’s look at the bright side and explore the ingredients that can help! Here are some helpful barrier repairing ingredients:
Hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea
These are great humectants! However, do note that at a higher concentration, urea is keratolytic so it can exfoliate and improve cell turnover rate! Not sure how to use hyaluronic acid? We have another FAQ fit for you!
Niacinamide is great for increasing the biosynthesis of ceramides. See our All About Niacinamide post to get even more details on this super-power ingredient!
Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids
These three are big players as lipid components in our stratum corneum (fancy for the outermost layer of our skin). They also make a swell trio, check out their compatibility in Best Skincare Ingredient Combinations.
Try looking for products that contain a mixture of the ingredients mentioned. Emphasis on ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol! Check out some of our Picky Picks below:
Stratia – Liquid Gold
Liquid Gold by Stratia has it all! Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids bundled together to deliver the TLC your skin barrier needs! It not only repairs, brightens, and moisturizes your skin, but makes that barrier stronger and healthier!
CeraVe – Daily Moisturizing Lotion
The Daily Moisturizing Lotion from CeraVe has three ceramides and hyaluronic acid! This lotion is light-weight, oil-free and fully replenishes that skin barrier with moisture and repairing properties. The hyaluronic acid lures in the hydration and seals it in so your skin stays hydrated all day long.
La Roche Posay – Toleriane Sensitive Creme
The Toleriane Sensitive Creme from La Roche Posay brings hydration salvation for the sensitive skin folks! The anti-inflammatory and microbial properties help to soothe as well as protect that barrier.
Eucerin – Urea 5% Face Cream
The Urea 5% Face Cream from Eucerin is light but dives deep on delivering that hydration to your skin! The 5% concentration of urea helps to bind the moisture on the outer-most part of your skin, as well as improve your skin’s natural exfoliation.
Hungry for more content on skin barrier repair? Luckily we have tons of skincare content available on the Picky blog and Instagram! If you want to find more products tailored to your skin’s needs, head to the Picky app and filter to fit exactly what you need!