Between putting on makeup, being outside in extreme temperatures, wearing face masks and everything in between, we put our skin to the test. It’s no surprise that there are some effects we can’t see, especially when it comes to skin barrier damage.
Shop TODAY spoke to a few dermatologists about what the skin barrier is exactly, how we can prevent damage and, if the damage has already occurred, how to fix it.
What is the skin barrier?
The skin barrier (also known as the lipid barrier) is not so much a thing as a function, explained certified dermatologist Dr Ranella Hirsch. “The barrier is a function that is described. I say this because a lot of times people think, “I damaged my fence,” it’s a bit like chipping the corner of a table. It’s not so much a physical damage. because you are interfering with a function it serves. “
The barrier has both internal and physical functions, according to the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Internally, the barrier serves to maintain homeostasis and protects against excessive water loss from the body. Physical, the barrier serves to protect against external threats such as allergens, infectious agents and chemicals.
What damages the skin barrier?
Hirsch, along with certified dermatologists Dr Mary Lupo and Dr Debra Jaliman, agree that excessive exfoliation is a way of damaging the skin barrier.
“People tend to come to this place after finding out about exfoliation,” Hirsch said. “A lot of the reasons for this, and maybe not the least, are that a lot of the products sold for exfoliation aren’t particularly well labeled. A lot of them say things like, ‘Oh, use me twice. a day! ‘and it’s like, don’t do that! “
Environmental conditions like low air humidity or too much exposure to the sun can also damage the skin barrier, according to Jaliman.
Aside from regular seasonal environmental changes, winter can be particularly harsh on the skin. “There’s less moisture in the air, the wind and everything that comes with that, and then not being sensitive to that with the way you treat your skin. [and] what you treat it with, ”Hirsch said.
Warm water wash
Lupo stressed the importance of never using hot water to wash your face or body. “Every time you use hot water you are literally going to melt those lipids that are in the skin, the natural lipids. [like] fatty acids, cholesterol, triglycerides [and] ceramides. All of those things that are naturally in your skin that form what’s called the lipid barrier, ”she explained.
“The old analogy was [the lipid barrier is] kind of like the mortar between the bricks because the intercellular lipids go between the keratinocytes and that helps seal the water in your skin, ”explained Lupo. With these melted lipids, your barrier is compromised and the skin becomes dehydrated more easily.
Use aggressive cleaners
Jaliman said cleansers containing ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate or any type of detergent or soap can damage the skin barrier by stripping the skin of its natural oils.
Genetic skin conditions that increase inflammation – like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis – can also damage the skin barrier, according to Jaliman and Lupo.
“Any condition that increases inflammation compromises the lipid barrier. When the skin is inflamed, hydration and lipids… the skin,” explained Lupo.
How to avoid damaging the skin barrier
“The key is [to try to] don’t hurt, ”Lupo said. She recommends washing your skin with lukewarm to cooler water. His other advice is to avoid scrubs of any kind.
If you really want to exfoliate, she gives you two ways to do it safely. There’s an enzymatic exfoliation with things like pumpkin extract, but make sure the product doesn’t contain alpha hydroxy acids, she cautions. Follow with a moisturizer that contains lactic acid, which she calls “exfoliating without being dehydrating.”
The other way to exfoliate is to lightly shave your face. “It’s the same as dermaplaning and it removes hair from the vellus and it removes the top layer of dead keratinocytes. And there’s no chemicals with it, so you’re not going to dehydrate your skin by doing that. “, explained Lupo.
Jaliman recommended being very gentle on your skin using a mild cleanser and moisturizer and not over exfoliating. For your moisturizer, she recommends choosing one with hyaluronic acid, glycerin or ceramides.
Hirsch also suggested using only one active ingredient at a time. “You [should] never introduce more than one asset [ingredient]Once you’ve introduced this active ingredient into your skincare routine, it’s important to make sure you’ve gotten into it perfectly, which she says can take some time. weeks or even months.
“Realize that this is not a contest to use the most powerful version of everything or to use it for the longest period of time or whatever. The point is to just achieve the effect of exfoliation you want, but gently, ”she said.
How to repair the skin barrier
Just like to avoid damaging the skin barrier, the first step in repairing the barrier after damage is to use a gentle cleanser. “A lot of people use exfoliating cleansers that contain glycolic acid or salicylic acid. You would want to use a cleanser that contains glycerin or hyaluronic acids or ceramides,” Jaliman said. Lupo shared the same recommendation, adding cholesterols to the mix that are “bad for your arteries but very good for your skin.”
When choosing products for your new gentle routine, Jaliman also advised keeping your skin pH in mind and choosing a product with a pH similar to yours so as not to upset the balance. (The average pH of the skin varies between 4 and 6.)
As you adjust your skin care routine and pay more attention to ingredients, Hirsch recommended cutting out products with active ingredients like retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids that can irritate the skin. “You want to remove anything that might be irritating. Then you can switch to a mild moisturizer because you don’t want to introduce anything particularly irritating or problematic. Next, sunscreen – a super, super, super soft sunscreen. is [what you want to use]. “
What is Hirsch’s most important tip? “Stop doing what you’re doing that got you in this mess in the first place!” She thinks people tend to have a “no pain, no gain” philosophy for skin care, but that’s not the best approach. Similar to exercise, it’s normal to have a slight adjustment period at the start where your skin may react differently, but if it’s continuous and painful then you shouldn’t keep doing it.
Products recommended by dermatologists to repair the skin barrier
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
This gentle cleanser contains glycerin and is recommended by Jaliman. Not only is it oil and sulfate free, but it also averages 4.7 stars on Amazon.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Jaliman also named this moisturizing cleanser from CeraVe for its use of hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin. “Those [ingredients are] very gentle … so as not to remove surface oils, “she said.
Eau Thermale Avène Cicalfate + Protective Repairing Cream
Once you’ve washed yourself with a gentle cleanser, Jaliman recommended following with products specifically for repairing the skin. She loves this Avène cream because it contains mineral oil, triglycerides, vegetable oil and glycerin.
Jaliman loves this cream because it contains glycerin and ceramides. It is one of the best sellers for body creams on Amazon and has an impressive 4.8 star average.
The thermal waters of La Roche-Posay
“Optimally, you want to combine hydration with water with… lipids like a ceramide,” Lupo said before recommending this spray mist which can be used as a toner replacement.
Jaliman called this moisturizer because it contains petroleum jelly and simethicone, ingredients that help seal the skin barrier.
Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief
Hirsch called this restorative and restorative serum “wonderful”. It is specially designed to heal a damaged skin barrier with a blend of conditioning oils, sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid), niacinamide and squalane.
Ultra Repairing Beauty First Aid Cream
Shea butter, squalane, ceramides, glycerin and colloidal oatmeal are key ingredients that make this First Aid beauty cream a must-have, according to Jaliman and Hirsch.
Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Repair Cream
Based on ceramide and a triple oatmeal complex, this Aveeno cream is designed to provide intense hydration and help heal very dry skin. While Jaliman specifically named this cream, Lupo also mentioned the Aveeno line of creams because oat extracts are beta-glucans, which are natural anti-inflammatory drugs for the skin.
Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream
Lupo also likes Eucerin products because they contain ceramides. This advanced restorative cream contains natural moisturizing factors like amino acids that are naturally found on the skin.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel-Cream
Jaliman recommended this body cream gel from Neutrogena. It contains hyaluronic acid to help your skin retain moisture, leaving it hydrated and smooth.
Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water
Lupo also came up with this option for a hydrating face mist. It contains 15 rare minerals to help strengthen the skin barrier and fight against aging.
Green Goo Skin Repair healing balm
Jaliman named this balm because it contains coconut oil and aloe vera. This herbal product also contains blue chamomile, vitamin E, and rosehip seed oil.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restoration 2: 4: 2
Although Hirsch acknowledged that this product is more expensive, she also called it a “lovely and charming product” and said it is worth the higher price. The key ingredients in this treatment include natural cholesterol, fatty acids, and pure ceramides, among other vitamins and essential oils.
Avène Thermal Spring Water Thermal Spring Water
They say good things come in threes, so it’s fitting that Lupo came up with a third option for a moisturizing mist. This highly rated option has over 5,000 five-star verified ratings and one reviewer even called it “magical fairy juice.”
Aveeno Calm + Restore Moisturizing Oatmeal Facial Gel
Hirsch called this Aveeno line an affordable option. “You don’t have to spend a lot – the Aveeno will do you just fine,” she says.
Restorsea Pro Intensive Treatment 10x
Lupo recommended this treatment for a gentle enzymatic exfoliation suitable for sensitive skin. “It’s an extract of salmon roe and it dissolves the eggshell so the larvae can come out of the eggshell.” She noted that the product is worth the hefty price tag, calling it “very high end but it is extraordinarily smooth.”
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