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What is the skin barrier – and why does it matter?

What is the skin barrier – and why does it matter?


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  • The lipid barrier protects your skin – keeping moisturein and irritants out.
  • A compromised barrier can make your skin red,irritated, itchy, and flaky.
  • Ingredients like ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid and oatscan help keep skin’s barrier feeling healthy.

  • It’s no overstatement to say that the skin barrier – often also referred to as the ‘moisture barrier’or ‘lipid barrier’ – is the unsung hero of healthy-looking skin: it works as a protective layer,keeping hydration in and irritants out.

    But most of us don’t know much about how it helps skin stay hydrated and healthy. Here areanswers to some of our most-asked skin barrier questions!

    What is the skin barrier?

    Your skin’s lipid barrier is the outer layer of cells that helps to form a protective layer betweenyou and the world. It can be useful to think of the skin barrier as a brick wall. The lipids – whichcomprise a blend of fatty acids, ceramides, and other nutrients called skin’s Natural MoisturizingFactor (NMF) – are the “mortar” between your skin’s cells, or “bricks.”

    Why is skin’s moisture barrier important?

    A healthy skin barrier has two crucial jobs: it keeps skin’s hydration in and keeps environmentalirritants and pollutants out. When skin’s barrier is strong, it prevents excess water loss (a.k.a.dehydration) and keeps out external aggressors like UV radiation, heat, cold, and environmentalirritants. When skin’s barrier is compromised, or damaged, it’s unable to effectively perform thesetasks – and you’ll know it!

    What are the signs of a damaged skin barrier?

    The first warning sign of a damaged skin barrier is dehydration. This can result in symptomslike redness, itching, and flaky skin. Your skin may also become more reactive, and may feelespecially sensitive to heat, cold, dry air, or certain skin care products.

    What causes skin’s barrier to become compromised?

    Unfortunately, many factors can cause damage to the skin barrier. Here are some of the mostcommon triggers:

  • etics play a role: people with chronically dry skin often naturally lack a strong lipid barrier.
  • Aging depletes skin’s natural lipids over time.
  • Seasonal changes in temperature, humidity, and environmental irritants can result indecreased lipids.
  • Over-exfoliating or using harsh skin care ingredients can strip lipids from the skin.
  • UV exposure, stress, and certain health conditions can damage skin’s barrier or cause it torecover more slowly.
  • How can I fix a damaged skin barrier?

    The fastest way to fix a damaged lipid barrier is to act right away! As soon as you realize yourdryness and irritation are signs of a compromised barrier, take the following steps:

  • Stop using any products that are causing your skin to feel irritated or sensitive.
  • Avoid physical exfoliants until skin feels healthy again.
  • Look for ingredients that will soothe your skin and help support a healthy barrier – likeceramides, oats, plant oils, and Hyaluronic Acid.
  • Hydrate! Moisturize whenever skin begins to feel dehydrated.
  • How can I keep skin’s moisture barrier healthy?

    When it comes to maintaining a healthy skin barrier, prevention is the best medicine. Hydrationis key here – so choose a toner, moisturizer, and SPF that work for your skin and use them everyday. Finally, avoid irritants: over-exfoliating or using certain skin care ingredients (like alcohol oracetone) are potential triggers.

    Get more skin care tips at dermalogica.com