Skin barrier seems to be one of those fancy buzzwords flying around lately. You hear it in skincare commercials or see it on product ads or boxes, but your skin barrier isn’t an idea created by the beauty industry. It’s actually a miraculously hardworking part of your body that helps protect your body’s largest organ, your skin.
Here are 3 things you should know about your skin barrier in order to better take care of it to keep yourself looking young and feeling healthy.
1: What is the skin barrier?
We may not think of our skin as an organ, but it’s actually our largest organ! Along with our other organs, like our hearts, brains, and lungs, our skin has an essential function that includes our skin barrier.
According to this article from the Indiana Journal of Medical Research, the “importance of skin barrier cannot be overemphasized. The skin barrier is important to human life. Physically, it protects from external threats such as infectious agents, chemicals, systemic toxicity and allergens. Internally, the skin helps to maintain homeostasis and protects from enhanced loss of water from the body.”
Composed of skin cells, lipids, amino and fatty acids, your skin barrier is the outermost layer or skin that works to guard the other layers of skin against outside elements and environmental aggressors. Basically, your skin barrier works like a barricade to protect everything inside your body.
2: Why is it important?
Being a guard can be a tough job. Physically, your skin barrier works to protect you. It helps guard against threats, like infections, chemicals, toxins, and allergens. Internally, your skin barrier helps maintain better equilibrium, also known as homeostasis, as well as regulate water and electrolyte loss from your body. For your skin barrier to work effectively, you have to take care of it, just like other parts of your body.
3: How do I maintain a healthy skin barrier?
It’s not difficult to assess the health of your skin. This article can help walk you through it, but basically you can see and feel whether the surface of your skin feels rough, dull, or flaky, and if it looks discolored or irritated.
Typically, if you have a weak skin barrier, it’s because you and your skin are dehydrated. This can make your skin barrier more susceptible or prone to skin irritation or harmful bacteria. Things like stress, harsh cleansers, over-washing, over-exfoliating, too much of one skincare product, too many skincare products in general, hormonal changes, too much time in the sun, harsh weather, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, and not drinking enough water can all contribute to skin barrier damage. That’s a long list! In addition to all of those things, your skin barrier can weaken with age, so it’s important to take care of it.
According to Dermatologist Debra Jailman, MD, studies have shown that you can reverse damage and even look 10–15 years younger. Fortunately, treatment to improve your skin barrier doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as applying a sunscreen or using gentler products that contain hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E.
Women over 40, with mature skin, may benefit further from supplementary ceramides. Ceramides help lock moisture into skin, which can have an anti-aging effect and provide a more youthful look.
If your skin barrier feels or appears irritated, consider changing your skincare routine as soon as possible. If you’re using multiple skincare products, consider simplifying and use less. If you’re using a harsh cleanser, try something with more gentle ingredients made specifically for your skin type. And do not forget to moisturize!
When updating your skincare regimen, always read the labels and look for great skincare ingredients. Pay attention to the benefits. Keep things simple, and only use your products as directed. Most high-quality skincare products are effective in small amounts, so avoid using too much product.
Also, remember to take care of yourself internally. Drinking enough water and eating healthy foods can have a huge impact on the health of your skin. Finally, and most importantly, remember to love yourself and the skin you’re in!