What is your Skin Barrier?
The outermost layer of your skin that keeps environmental damage out and hydration in. It has a "brick and mortar" like structure and is compromised of skin cells held together by free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. The skin barrier protects the internal body from physcial toxins (such as pollution and harmful chemicals) and ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure. This skin barrier also helps the body to hold onto natural moisture by preventing transepidermal water loss.
In point form, the Skin Barrier:
1. keeps skin supple
2. regulates bacteria
3. prevents evaporation
4. protects from pathogens
5. supports our innate immune system
6. balances our microbial eco system
7. the first line of defence for our immune system
Damaging the Skin Barrier
Factors affecting the skin barrier can range from environmental to physical. Environmental damage can be caused by not protecting your skin from harsh environmental conditions such as heat from the sun, the cold winter, and extreme winds, etc. Physical factors include over-exfoliation with scrubs and rough bristled brushes or chemical exfoliants such as AHAs & BHAs.
Most of the barrier damage comes from stripping your skin of its natural oils with harsh cleanser, acne medication and acids. Over-exfoliation = a damaged skin barrier, meaning the protective layer of your skin is damaged. Essentially at this point there are tiny holes in your skin which allow moisture out and irritation in.
A damaged skin barrier is usually signified by dry, itchy, flaky, sensitive, irritated, and tight skin. Skin will typically appear red and dull. It may sting, become sore and more red when certain products are applied.
Sometimes the skin can appear waxy because too many layers of the skin have been stripped away. You may think you're extremely oily as well when in reality your skin is just over producing oils to try and replenish the moisture you have lost.
You may notice more blemishes popping up in unusual places and that normal acne can become more inflamed/raised. Little rough bumps appearing like a rash on the surface of the skin is another tell tale sign of over-exfoliation.
Things to Avoid
External things to avoid: cleansing and exfoliating too frequently, fragrance, prolonged sun exposure without SPF and potentially heat. As well as rubbing too hard with cleansing brushes or face cloths.
Internal things to avoid: consuming alcohol, caffeine, sodium and sugar.
How to strengthen the barrier?
There is no such thing as a quick fix, especially when it comes to repairing the skin. When trying to strengthen the skin's barrier you will want to discontinue the use of all resurfacing products and not just exfoliants. Check all products for the incorporation of retinoids, AHAs, BHAs, etc. so you know what to stop using. This includes cleansers that strip oil away.
Look for skin soothing, hydrating and protective ingredients. Ingredients that help repair and nourish our skin barrier. Fatty acids, triglycerides, antioxidants, cholesterol, phospholipids and ceramides.
If you ever have a large inflamed spots and a special event coming up you should not be concerned with the application of acids but instead be repairing the skin barrier to reduce inflammation! This can look like using a thick repairing cream to bring any angry spots down in a day - no harsh actives when spots are inflamed! Note that this is not your forever routine either, this is your barrier routine until the skin has been restored.
Products that can and will help
Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever: packed full of omega fatty acids, vitamins, lipids, and hundreds of bioactive compounds in order to restore skin to its natural state of smooth and glowing!
Seabuckthorn Balm: ample omega fatty acids, vitamins, lipids, and hundreds of botanical compounds grace the face with a luminous, dewy glow. It’s perfect for dry, wind-swept, and cold-chapped skin as cells are supported by a porous, protective barrier that keeps extra-emollients in and harsh elements out.
BeDew Dab & Ozonated Version: made with the most cooling, soothing oils this spot on serum or balm is a go-to elixir to reduce the appearance of redness and puffiness. Great for irritated, inflamed, red or reactive skin, as well as eczema, psoriasis, bites or burns, sunburn, & itchy skin among other things.
Soothsayer Serum: reduces harmful effects of environmental elements on the skin. Very similar to Serum T.E.W.L. in functionality for reference.
Sandalwood Supreme: as cooling as the morning dew. Let this balm cool and repair the appearance of dry, rough, red skin.
Forlle'd Reliance Gel: designed for rapid recovery of the skin, ensuring immediate rehydration while increasing the skin's ability to retain moisture on both the derma and epidermis layers. Can be used as either a final step in your daily skin care regime or as an instant rejuvenating mask to improve skin radiance.
Forlle'd P-effect Nourishing Cream: moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin in seconds to provide immediate relief from dryness. Ideal used during cold and windy weather. Regular use can help lower skin sensitivity whilst increasing tonicity, resilience and elasticity. This low molecular ingredient formula is perfectly compatible with skin lipids, it facilitates protection of the hydro-lipid film and reinforces the dermal matrix; thereby, imparting a combined lifting effect.
Eau Micellaire Biosensible: combines hydrating and toning qualities with soothing and gently cleansing qualities to remove makeup and purify the skin without destabilizing the hydro-lipidic film. This is a very gentle, non invasive cleanser for irritated and red skin.
Masque Visolastine+: moisturizes and revitalizes the skin to help reduce tightness within as well as signs of aging. A complete natural solution that offers immediate and lasting hydration to the upper layers of the epidermis while strengthening the skin’s barrier to protect against dehydration.
Masque Biosensible: significantly reduces skin sensitivity and brings instant relief and comfort to delicate skin. Its soothing and protective active ingredients alleviate the appearance of skin irritations and help strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. It calms and relieves sensations of tightness, flushing and itching.
[C] - helps to restore and strengthen the cutaneous barrier, which protects the skin from external stress factors by reducing itching. The skin becomes more tolerant and is soothed, texture is less rough and redness is reduced.
[M1] & [M2] - a replenishing formula that will provide the skin with the fatty acids required to limit water loss and truly strengthen the skin barrier. It immediately calms the redness, providing a comforting and soothing effect.
Dermo-RL(re-lipidating) - a repairing and regenerating skincare treatment that acts like a shield for the epidermis. Formulated with lipid-replenishing shea butter and cotton oil, NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor), hydrating hyaluronic acid and protective and reparative agents, to reinject your skin with lipids.
Creme Masque Vernix - reconditions the epidermis to practically feel “born again”. Drawing inspiration from the epidermal protective barrier of the newborn, this cream/mask is formulated with active ingredients rich in lipids, proteins and antioxidant peptides that virtually reproduces the original composition of the vernix. This product revitalizes, regenerates and protects the skin.
Colostrum VG - an intensive lipid-restoring treatment that will act as a liquid cushion to help strengthen the skin barrier. Its core formula gives it incomparable nourishing properties, helping to reduce surface dryness and maintain deep hydration in the skin. The water content of the epidermis is restored, promoting the reconstruction of the absent or deteriorated lipidic protective film.
Serum Biosensible - formulated with 11 active ingredients to bring a calming effect to skin tissue. With daily use of this serum, redness decreases and skin is left feeling truly soothed and soft.
Serum T.E.W.L. - formulated with an ultra-high concentration of lipid-replenishing, repairing and protective oils. The combined action of its active ingredients restores a strong cutaneous barrier and strengthens the hydrolipidic film so skin is better able to shield itself from external aggressions. The serum’s formula envelops skin like an epidermal shield and once repaired and protected, the epidermis maintains an optimal level of hydration.
Sheald Recovery Balm - a moisture-rich formula that replenishes dry, sensitive or compromised skin with hydration. This remedy works overtime to help support optimal skin health--while nurturing, nourishing botanicals minimize the look and feel of dry, distressed and post-procedure skin. Sheald reinforces the skin's natural healing process as it alleviates irritation caused by environmental aggressors as well as advanced treatments such as microneedling and chemical peels. Oat extracts soothe inflammation while panthenol restores pH levels. An advanced complex of ceramides lock-in moisture behind an antimicrobial protective layer that blocks environmental aggressors.
Think of exfoliation as a long game not a quick fix. Whether you have a lot of acne or little bumps under the skin the issue is already there so over-exfoliating the area won't remove it in a few days. Consistency is key as I always preach. It can take weeks to months to conquer acne or fix your barrier. A single skin cycles is about one month and it can take multiple to get to the results you're looking for!