Hey guys! Dr Emma here taking over the blog to talk about one my of my favourite topics!
Skin barrier….. The first line of defence of your skin, the essential brick wall that locks in healthy hydration and fends off potential predators. Barrier is a hot topic because, bottom line, healthy, robust skin barrier = glowy, hydrated skin; whilst a compromised skin barrier = dry, sensitive, intolerant and even eczema-prone skin.
What is your skin barrier?
Your skin barrier is the outer layer of your skin. As your skin cells move from the bottom up, they die off and become flattened and compact like bricks in a wall. The bricks are stuck together with lipids and proteins – the cement of the wall. Although the cells in the skin barrier are dead, the skin barrier is very biologically active and works incredibly hard to hydrate and protect your skin. So what can weaken this fortified defence and how can we ensure we keep it healthy, robust and strong?
As with so many aspects of our skin, genetics play a role. Some of us are blessed with naturally hydrated, robust skin barriers; whilst others have more delicate and sensitive skin. But skin gets more sensitive over time and frankly even the most resilient of barriers can be compromised in adverse environmental conditions or if skincare is excessively harsh.
Colder weather dehydrates and make skin more sensitive, while indoor heating and air conditioning also strips moisture. Skincare and actives can be major culprits for compromising barrier. Foaming cleansers, alcohol and fragrances can all irritate. Similarly, if you’re enthusiastically piling on AHAs, BHAs and Retinoids, you may end up with dry sensitive skin, because your skin barrier is groaning under the strain of too many actives.
So what can we do to protect this precious barrier?
Diet-wise; include plenty of essential fats – fish, nuts and seeds. Skincare is a crucial – essentially the gentler and more hydrating the skincare, the stronger your skin’s line of defence. So if you do find your skin is becoming compromised, go easy on the harsh foaming cleansers or toners and go heavy on the moisturiser. Ingredients like niacinamide and ceramides are superstars to toughen things up. If you find that despite all of these, skin is still struggling, then it may be time for a trip to your GP or a Derm and a medicated cream to reset. Boost the barrier!