Rebuilding the barrier: Essential steps for restoring and strengthening your skin barrier
You may have heard the buzz about the skin barrier, but what exactly is it? Let’s break it down.
In this article, we will dive into the crucial topic of restoring and strengthening your skin barrier.
In the world of skincare, the term "barrier repair" is everywhere. It may be the skincare buzzword of 2023 or, at least, a close second to serums.
With so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to decipher what truly matters for your skin. But fear not because I'm here to guide you through it all using my medical training and dermatology experience.
The Skin Barrier and Its Significance:
The skin barrier is like a protective shield that guards your skin against external aggressors, locks in moisture and maintains its overall health. When the barrier is compromised, various skin issues can arise- like the entry of unwanted viruses and bacteria, which can lead to secondary infections like impetigo, warts, molluscum contagiosum, etc.
How Recognizing a Compromised Skin Barrier:
The best way to explain a compromised skin barrier is eczema. We all have an idea of what that looks like, and many of us have experienced it personally. Signs such as increased sensitivity, redness, dryness, burning or stinging or a compromised skin texture indicate that your skin barrier is in distress and requires attention.
Step-by-Step Guide to Restoring and Strengthening:
Now, let's get down to business. Follow these crucial steps to replenish your skin barrier so it can protect us from the outside world.
Step 1: Gentle Cleansing
Discover the power of mild, non-stripping cleansers that respect your skin's natural balance. Oil cleansers are really great examples of gentle cleansers. My recommended ingredients and formulations are:
at the drugstore: Vanicream Gentle Cleanser
Step 2: Hydrating and Moisturizing
Hydration is key to a resilient skin barrier. Moisturization is the key to locking in the hydration. GO with this:
Step 3: Nourishing and Repairing
Barrier-boosting skincare products, such as serums, oils, and treatments, provide the nourishment your skin craves.
at the drugstore: Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum
Step 4: Sun Protection
Shielding your skin from harmful UV rays is vital for a robust skin barrier. Explore the impact of UV rays, the importance of broad-spectrum SPF, and recommended sunscreen products to ensure comprehensive barrier protection. I've got tons of great blogs on Sun Protection
Step 5: STOP active ingredients
Stop any treatments that have ingredients to treat acne. These products typically have acids, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids. I even recommend stopping vitamin C.
Now, niacinamide is an exception. It’s the only active ingredient that can improve a compromised barrier. Hyaluronic acid can also be beneficial for some, depending on the formulation.
Step 6: Patience and Consistency
Restoring and strengthening your skin barrier is a journey that requires patience and consistency. Set realistic expectations of two weeks at least, participate in regular skincare practices, and monitor progress so you can adapt your routine as needed.
Common damage to the skin barrier
I also want to shed light on common skincare mistakes to avoid and identify potential irritants or harsh ingredients that can compromise your skin barrier. Gentle and mindful skincare practices are the key to success.
- Over-exfoliating: Scrubbing your skin too aggressively or using harsh exfoliants can damage the skin barrier. Stick to gentle exfoliation methods and limit it to 1-2 times per week, especially when in barrier repair. Consider chemical exfoliants only or a natural physical exfoliator with enzymes like papaya.
- Using Harsh Ingredients: Avoid skincare products containing alcohol, sulfates, and fragrances, as they can strip the skin and compromise its protective barrier. Opt for products labeled "fragrance-free" or "suitable for sensitive skin."
- Ignoring Sun Protection: UV rays can further weaken the skin barrier. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to shield your skin.
Remember, consistency and a mindful approach to skincare are the cornerstones of maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
Listen to your skin!
Knowing when to avoid certain ingredients and navigating your routine when your skin is giving you signs it needs a break is an art… but not a difficult one. See the steps above and repeat as necessary.
Try a step-up approach by first creating a simple, nourishing cleansing and moisturizing ritual with products without active ingredients then slowly adding those with active ingredients to improve skin concerns like breakouts and discoloration.
By following the essential steps outlined in this article, you are well on your way to rebuilding and strengthening your skin's protective shield. Remember, skincare is a holistic journey, and prioritizing your skin barrier health will yield remarkable results. You've got this!
I’m always here for you too!