Skin Barrier 101: Your Skin’s True Hero

Updated: May 29, 2021

Did you know that you have a 24/7 bodyguard attached to you whenever you go? It protects your body from outer toxins, bacteria, and irritants. It prevents water from escaping from your body leaving you dehydrated.

Have you figured out who is that hero, yet? *drum roll* It’s your skin!

Skin is the largest organ on our bodies and plays a very important role in our survival. It consists of multiple layers. Each layer has a specific function. Our hero of the day is the skin’s very first layer known as the Stratum Corneum, also known as the skin barrier.

What is a skin barrier?

to put it simply, let’s imagine that our skin barrier is like a wall.

To build a wall, you’re going to need to layer up bricks and stick them together using cement. The same goes for our skin barrier! It consists of brick-like cells called corneocytes that are bound together by a fatty layer that is made from ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol.

Acting like a shield, your skin barrier should be firm and strong like a wall with no dentures or holes to keep the gained moisture and hydration in, while keeping irritants and toxins out from entering our bodies.

To have radiating skin with a natural glow, you will need to have a healthy, well-maintained barrier.

What damages the skin barrier and how damaged skin looks like?

Unfortunately, our skin damages easily by so many different factors:

  • Sun exposure: Too much exposure to harmful UVB rays will age your skin barrier and dehydrate it.

  • Air conditioning: Air-conditioned spaces tend to be so very dry to the point that it sucks the moisture out of your skin.

  • Seawater and chlorine: Salt and chlorine strip your skin out of its natural oils.

  • Physical scrubs: The beads and scrub particles in physical scrubs injures your skin if they are not of the right size.

  • Sleeping with makeup: Imagine sleeping with something suffocating your skin overnight. No further explanation is need.

  • Stress: During stress, your skin sweats and gets overly dry.

  • pH Balance: Your skin’s optimal pH is slightly acidic, so exposing your skin to harsh pH levels can facilitate bacterial growth on your skin, leading to skin damage.

You can spot damaged skin by looking for blemishes, redness, acne, scaly skin, and many different other symptoms that depend on each skin type.

How to repair and maintain your skin barrier?

Remember how we described our skin barrier earlier? It’s made of cells that are bound by a lipid layer. Keeping those two, cells and layers, healthy; will lead to healthier skin. As always, avoiding damaging factors plays a massive role in maintaining and protecting your skin:

Hydration: Our bodies and cells contain up to 75% of water. Drinking water and keeping yourself moisturized will result in younger-looking skin with fewer problems.

Wear your sunscreen: A magical, yet very underrated, skincare product. Harmful UV rays can cause serious damage to your skin barrier through their free radicals. Make sure to wear your sunscreen all year long!

Humectants are your best friend: Humectants suck in moisture from the surrounding air and deposit it into your skin, giving your skin a hydration boost. Search for skincare products rich in Hyaluronic acid and glycerin and include them in your daily routine.

Secure that barrier with Ceramides: Ceramides hold the pieces of your skin barrier together making it strong to protect it from dehydration and irritants. Look for moisturizers that contain ceramides and apply them daily to boost your barrier’s functionality.

Balance your pH level: Avoid using harsh products that can disrupt your natural pH balance like soaps and wash your face with gentle cleansers.

Don’t forget your botanicals: Some oils and botanical extracts help your skin do its function like jojoba oil since it resembles our skin's natural sebum. Massage your skin with a drop or two for 60 seconds before sleep.

Omega 3 & 6: Omega pretty much makes everything in our body healthy since it’s a very beneficial fatty acid. Make sure to apply some products that are rich in them or take them as supplements.

Be cool: Stress can have a toll on your whole body and, especially, on your skin. Try to stay calm and meditate to release your stress.

Our skin is a hard worker that needs to be appreciated and loved. Take a 15-minute break off of your day to give some extra love to your shield. Your hero. Your skin.

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