What Is the Skin's Moisture Barrier?
Every day, our skin is exposed to irritants—think: environmental pollution, sun exposure—that can tarnish the appearance of our skin and make it look dull, dry and tired. Our best defense? The skin’s moisture barrier.
What is the skin’s moisture barrier, you ask? If it sounds like a shield for our skin, that’s because it is. As the outermost layer of our skin, the skin’s barrier protects us from external assaults that can wreak havoc. “The outermost layer of our skin, called the stratum corneum, serves as the barrier to loss of body water,” says board-certified plastic surgeon, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Jeanne Eyde. “Not only is it a barrier to the outflow of water but it also serves as protection against the entry of perils such as bacteria and allergens from the environment.” A healthy barrier can help keep moisture in and bad bacteria—and those aforementioned contaminants—out. Think of it as personal security detail for your skin, there to help protect and shield your body’s largest organ.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SKIN BARRIER HAS BEEN COMPROMISED
Naturally, there’s a ton of industry chatter on the importance of keeping the skin barrier less permeable to the outside world. If your skin barrier is compromised, you can experience a plethora of unwanted side effects. “Signs of damage to the skin barrier include increased sensitivity such as itching, redness, irritation, breakouts, dryness, tightness, rashes, and broken capillaries,” Dr. Eyde says. What’s more, it may be more difficult for your skin to heal itself from these side effects.
Not only is it a barrier to the outflow of water but it also serves as protection against the entry of perils such as bacteria and allergens from the environment.
HOW TO STRENGTEN YOUR SKIN BARRIER
If you suspect that your skin barrier has been compromised—or you simply want to keep it from getting to that point—read on. In order to obtain strong barrier function, Dr. Eyde suggests taking steps to restore balance. “Begin by washing the skin (only twice daily!) with lukewarm water and reducing exfoliation to once a week with a gentle product,” she says. “Protect the skin daily with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.” Broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher can help shield your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so be sure to apply liberally prior to heading outdoors and reapply at least every two hours—even if it looks like it’s a cloudy day.
Keeping your skin hydrated is also vital. Dr. Eyde recommends moisturizers formulated with lipids, ceramides, or glycerin to help improve a declining moisture barrier. Try SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. The cream is formulated with a maximized concentration of pure ceramides, natural cholesterol, and omega fatty acids, a ratio that’s optimized for natural barrier restoration in aging skin. In addition to helping reinforce and hydrate the skin’s barrier, the formula also supports the skin’s natural self-repair to reduce visible signs of premature and accelerated aging.
Dr. Eyde also recommends increasing your water intake, eliminating smoking and excess alcohol consumption to help restore hydration. Long story short? Treating your skin barrier with care, and following good lifestyle habits, can bring you closer towards achieving the smooth, hydrated complexion you’ve always wanted. Why not give it a try?