What Does It Do?
The secret behind radiant, glowing skin is a healthy skin barrier. Daily skincare routines help in restoring the skin and retaining moisture. Here's an all-you-need-to-know guide to a healthy moisture barrier.
- The skin barrier is a protective layer that guards you against the environment and stops your skin from losing fluids. It is filled with lipids, fatty acids, and ceramides. It is also known as the acid mantle as it is slightly more acidic than the skin itself (1).
- Three different parts make up the moisture barrier: the outer cells or the stratum corneum (SC), the lower-level cells, and the intercellular lipids.
- In SC, we see a 'brick-and-mortar' type arrangement: the corneocytes (the layer of dead skin cells) act like brick and intercorneocyte lipids (the skin's natural fats) act like mortar to keep the cells together (2).
- The skin barrier protects the skin from the external environment, bacteria, pollutants, or other irritants and maintains moisture. It prevents the loss of antioxidants and acts as a permeability barrier. It thereby helps in skin hydration to keep the skin smooth, healthy, and soft.
SKIN BARRIER 101
How Can You Tell If The Moisture Barrier Is Damaged?
A dermatologist can help with an overall assessment of the skin. But broadly speaking, a damaged moisture barrier is evident from the appearance of the skin.
- A normal, healthy skin barrier means your skin is even, toned, and smooth, with no redness or inflammation. Similarly, smooth skin in an infant indicates a healthy moisture barrier.
- A compromised skin barrier could mean your skin is flaking or peeling, sensitive, red, dry, dehydrated, inflamed, or prematurely aging.
What Causes Damage To The Skin Barrier?
Several factors can damage skin barriers but let's look at major ones (3):
AGING. The skin barrier is most efficient in babies, and as we get older it gradually changes. In the 40's, the skin starts losing moisture as the skin barrier starts to become weak. Although we cannot reverse aging, we can limit exposure to factors that age skin prematurely.
UV EXPOSURE. UV rays are responsible for photo-aging and premature wrinkles.
OVER EXFOLIATING. Harsh physical exfoliating, hard scrubbing and using DIY ingredients such as baking soda or lemon and on some skin types, alcohol and artificial fragrances, can lead to dryness or redness. Experts warn that the overuse of active ingredients like L-ascorbic Acid, Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic Acid in different steps of skin routine can lead to dehydration.
POLLUTION. Smoke, dust and other pollutants harm the skin barrier and make the skin dehydrated.
BLUE LIGHT. Increase in screen time means increased blue light exposure. This exposure makes the skin cells shrink and can also cause cell death.
STRESS. Physical, emotional, and occupational stress can lead to various metabolic disorders. Oxidative stress can lead to dull skin, uneven skin tones, hyperpigmentation, and even wrinkles. Including a stress management technique such as meditation or mindfulness can help in getting that glowing skin.
What Happens When It's Damaged?
When the skin barrier is damaged, moisture is lost rapidly. This leads to dryness, itchiness, dull skin tone, and ultimately wrinkles. The normal pH of healthy skin is between 4.5 - 5.5 and we can take some easy steps to maintain the normal pH.
- HYDRATE - Drink lots of water. The overall body hydration influences skin hydration. The more moisture we provide to our body, the better our protective skin barrier works.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE - People are less likely to follow complicated or over-the-top skincare routines. A simple but regular 'Cleanse, Tone, & Moisturize' or the CTM routine can work wonders on the skin. Depending on your skin, this routine can be followed once (morning) or twice (morning and bedtime) daily.
- PROTECT FROM UVA/UVB RAYS - Use a mineral sunscreen SPF 50 that protects your skin from UVA & B rays. Also, use a wide-rim hat and sunglasses when you are out and about.
- BALANCE YOUR SKIN'S PH LEVELS - Although your skin has pH 4.5, your skin's acid mantle needs to stay around a pH of 5.7. The pH of some skin products can vary from 3.7 up to 8.2. Maintaining a healthy skin pH helps in protecting from skin problems such as acne, dermatitis, ichthyosis and candida albicans infections.
SKIN BARRIER 101
Support Your Skin Barrier Function
Avène has formulated a range of products that help restore the skin barrier with soothing postbiotics. Include them in your daily routine for soft, glowing skin.
- AVÈNE THERMAL SPRING WATER - Rich in postbiotic microflora to soothe and soften sensitive skin.
- CICALFATE+ RESTORATIVE PROTECTIVE CREAM - Postbiotic D-Sensinose™ is an excellent ingredient that calms any skin discomfort and helps maintain the skin barrier.
- TOLERANCE CONTROL SOOTHING SKIN RECOVERY CREAM - This cream is made from C+ Restore™, a postbiotic restorative ingredient, rich in proteins to help restore and rejuvenate the skin.
- XERACALM A.D. LIPID REPLENISHING CREAM - Well-suited for dry, itchy skin. It contains I-Modulia which is another postbiotic ingredient targeted for itching due to skin dryness*.