How to Restore Skin’s Moisture Barrier
Fear you have a damaged moisture barrier? Well, let’s face it, lives are hectic and we put our skin through a lot. Extreme temperatures, sun exposure, makeup, face washing and exfoliation. All of these can bring a host of challenges to skin’s moisture barrier and overall health. Over the course of its life, skin will likely experience some sort of irritation, breakouts, over-sensitivity or dry skin as a result. Fortunately, there are ways to heal and repair skin’s moisture barrier for a refreshed glow. A healthy moisture barrier is the key to beautiful skin, so we are here to share how to restore skin’s healthy moisture barrier for optimal skin health.
“As an esthetician with over 30 years of experience working hands-on with clients and their skin, I can say that almost every single skin concern can be traced back to an impaired skin barrier.” (1)
What is a moisture barrier?
Well, your skin’s moisture barrier is kiiiiiind of a big deal. Also known as the stratum corneum, it is the outermost layer of skin that acts as a shield by keeping out the bad, like environmental pollutants & bacteria, and keeping in the good, like moisture & water. The moisture barrier is made up of the Lipid Matrix, which consists of fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides that packs epidermal cells tightly together to make a, well, barrier. When the moisture barrier is compromised, there are invisible gaps between the cells, where moisture can escape and bacteria can enter.
“It protects us from mechanical injury, low humidity, cold, heat, sun, wind, chemical exposure, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens,” explains board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., stating that, “a healthy barrier is critical to normal skin function.” (2)
Signs of a damaged moisture barrier
- Oily and dry (producing excess oil to compensate for dehydration)
- Congestion (clogged pores and blackheads)
- Dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema
- Not drinking enough water
- Exposure to UV rays
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Using harsh facial cleansers
- Washing face with hot water or taking hot showers
- Extreme weather (ie. cold, wind)
- Environmental stress
- Over-using active ingredients (retinol, vitamin c, AHAs, acne treatments, etc).
How to Restore Skin’s Healthy Moisture Barrier
Suspect your moisture barrier is need of some repair? You are not the first person to go too harsh with a cleanser, over-exfoliate or experience a sunburn. Don’t worry! With a little TLC and going back to basics, you can help repair your skin’s barrier.
When you restore the moisture barrier, it looks dewy and glow, and feels firm and bouncy. You will be less prone to breakouts, skin conditions and redness and it will slow down water loss for overall optimal skin health.
Be Kind & Gentle
If your moisture barrier is damaged, your skin is highly sensitive so it is best to use soothing, gentle products. Lay off the harsh face washes and lean towards non-foaming, hydrating cream cleansers.
- Avoid products with fragrance and synthetic color
- Avoid foaming, harsh cleansers
- Use mild, pH-balanced products
- Avoid strong active ingredients, like retinol, AHAs and BHAs.
Although you might be tempted to try the latest 7-step skincare routine, keeping it simple is the best approach. A basic routine of a cleanser, moisturizer and sun protection is really all your skin needs right now. The focus is healing and nurturing your skin and using replenishing ingredients. Again, eliminate strong actives and exfoliants.
- Gentle cleansers
- Moisture-rich creams
- Calming ingredients
- Balmy textures
Specific ingredients strengthen the Moisture Barrier
As we mentioned, the Lipid Matrix is a blend of mainly ceramides with equal parts fatty acids and cholesterol. Finding skincare with ingredients that mimic this ratio will help restore and rebuild the moisture barrier and improve hydration in skin. (3)
Try to use skincare ingredients that are soothing, moisture-rich. Humectants, like hyaluronic acid glycerin and emollients, are moisture-binding ingredients that help lock in hydration.
Some ingredients to choose for skin moisture repair:
- Shea Butter
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Kiwi seed
- Vitamin E
- Stem Cells
- Growth Factors
Making long-term changes to skin’s health takes time. Within a few days you should notice a boost in the hydration levels in your skin. You will also know skin is on the mend when you start experiencing less irritation and other symptoms, but it could take 2-4 weeks to replenish itself and heal.
A happy moisture barrier is happy skin
Your skin’s moisture barrier is your bff. It protects your skin from the outside world, defending it from damaging elements and helping it hold onto essential water. By simplifying your skincare routine & using suitable products, which are gentle, pH appropriate and contain the right ingredients, you can replenish skin’s healthy moisture barrier for your happy glowing self!
- Dry Skin? Your Moisture Barrier May Be Damaged—Here Are 10 Ways to Fix It. R. Rouleau
- Skin Barrier: Ingredients To Support Yours + Why It’s Important. J. Ourisman. Medical Review: K. Barr. mbglifestyle.
- Strengthen Your Skin’s Moisture Barrier With Three Key Ingredients. Ghost Democracy.
- Stratum corneum lipid matrix: Location of acyl ceramide and cholesterol in the unit cell of the long periodicity phase. Mojumdar,Gooris,Groen,Barlow,Lawrence,Deme,Bouwstra,PubMed.
- The Complete Guide to Your Skin’s Moisture Barrier and How to Protect It. Prinzivalli. Allure.