If you suffer from sensitive, eczema prone or congested skin, skin barrier repair creams should already be on your radar. But what is the skin barrier, and why does it matter? And how can you fix the integrity of your skin barrier for healthy looking, youthful skin?
The skin barrier is one of the least talked about skincare concerns, but it’s the most important. The uppermost layer of the skin, known as the skin barrier, is the layer that is hard at work protecting the inner layers of skin. If your skin barrier is thin, weak or damaged, irritants can get in and skin sensitivity happens.
Right under the hydrolipidic skin barrier sits the top layer of actual skin: the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is also the layer of the skin that you can see, and when it’s healthy skin looks radiant.
While moisturizers can help keep skin plump, a new generation of skin barrier repair creams go a step further. They actually work to strengthen this naturally protective layer of skin. When the skin barrier is compromised, the skin shows irritation, dryness, and redness.
Why Does The Skin Barrier Weaken?
To be fair, genetic factors play an important part on the strength of your skin barrier. Light skinned people or those with naturally sensitive skin have a harder time holding to a healthy skin barrier. Also environmental pollution, and things such as air conditioning dry your skin and weaken the skin barrier.
Another factor that affects the skin barrier is just age. As we age, our skin thins and loses water. Hydration is vital to repair the skin barrier, because it is formed of dead skin cells, naturally occurring oils and water. With age, skin thins and the skin barrier loses water and effectivity, making signs of ageing more visible. Dermatologists have found many ways about how to thicken skin. There are treatments such as lasers or dermarolling that work to encourage collagen production, for example.
People with certain skin conditions, such as rosacea, have a tendency to have much drier skin. This dehydration damages the skin barrier, which in turn means the skin becomes drier and flakier. And that causes more irritation, and more sensitivity.
However, there are other things that can break havoc with your skin barrier. Strong cleansers which strip away skin natural oils often lead to a compromised skin barrier. Many people with oily skin have very compromised skin barriers, because they don’t use the right cleanser for oily skin.
If you have oily or acne prone skin over-exfoliating or using harsh cleansers can make the problem worse. By damaging the skin barrier you are removing your body’s natural ability to keep bacteria and irritants out. The result is more acne, and overproduction of sebum to try and compensate.
Finally, what you eat can make or break your skin barrier. Generally speaking, anything that increases the body inflammatory response, can irritate your skin. Too much alcohol at a party can cause spots and irritation the next day that last longer than your hangover.
So now that you know what can harm it, how can you go about skin barrier repair? While a skin barrier repair cream is a big help, it’s also about changing your beauty routine a bit.
How To Repair Your Skin Barrier
If you want to repair your skin barrier, you need to take a look at your beauty routine. First of all, let go of aggressive products that give your that squeaky clean feel: they are doing you no favours.
Instead, choose a great face wash for oily skin that cleans gently, and it’s free from detergents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. If you have sensitive skin, acids like salicylic acid should also be avoided as they can be too harsh. And avoid very hot water, as that will also remove your skin natural oils.
Physical exfoliation can also be too harsh for sensitive skins, and can be better replaced with a gentle AHA exfoliator. You will need some exfoliation to get rid of dead skin and impurities, but it needs to be gentle. Most physical face brushes are too harsh, and can cause micro-wounds on your delicate skin. Try instead a gadget like the Foreo Lune Ultra Sensitive or a cheap and cheerful flannel cloth are good enough for every day use.
Once your skin is clean, the next step is a good serum (we rate ingredients such as Niacinamide for its ceramide boosting properties). A good retinoid used at nighttime can also improve skin thickness and cell turnover.
Switch your regular moisturizer with a skin barrier repair cream, and don’t forget to use SPF to protect your skin. Protecting your skin against free radical damage from the sun or pollution is key to repairing your skin barrier.
Top Rated Skin Barrier Repair Cream Moisturizers
The Better Skin Company | Mirakle Cream
If you are into natural moisturizers this miracle cream does what it says on the tin. Free from parabens, gluten and fragance this all natural cream is made from organic ingredients. The blend of blend of coconut oil, shea butter, sea buckthorn, aloe and soothing algae calms irritated, dry skin and restores the skin barrier.
Dermalogica UltraCalming Barrier Repair
If you have red, angry skin that irritates easily, this is the best inflammation fighter you can buy at a store. This skin barrier repair cream is designed to calm sensitive skin and strenghten the lipid barrier. It leaves skin feeling hydrated and protected. It contains a blend of evening primrose borage seed oil, shea butter and vitamin C.
If you are after a lighter skin repair serum, the Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate calms burning, itchy skin. It’s a favourite for rosacea sufferers with allergy prone skin.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore
This miracle skin barrier repair cream for ageing skin focuses on skin that feels dry due to lack of lipids. This is very common as we age, and you may have noticed it when regular moisturizers fail to keep skin hydrated. A complex blend of a blend of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids nurtures the skin and repairs the skin barrier. It is a very rich cream and a tiny amount warmed between your fingertips goes a long way.
Treat your skin barrier with kindness, and it will repay your back by keeping the bad stuff out and the moisture in. Sensitive skin that looks angry and red, spots and dry patches, all can go away with the right skin barrier repair routine. And once your skin is back to normal… let it stay that way.