Summer is a wonderful time of year – long warm days spent outside in the sun with plenty of time for socialising in the evenings. But summer is also a time that you might notice your skin barrier is not in its happy place.

The term ‘skin barrier’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘moisture barrier’ or ‘acid mantle.’ Whatever you choose to call it, put simply it refers to the outermost layer of your skin.

We’re going to look at little more closely at what the skin barrier is, and does. Plus, we'll highlight six signs that show your skin barrier is out of whack and what you can do to support it, so that you can love the unique skin you’re in.

 

Skin layers

Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ and is made up of three distinct layers? The epidermis, which is the thin outermost layer of the skin; the dermis, which is the thick middle layer of the skin and contains collagen, elastin, and the skin's nerve and blood supply. Finally, there is the hypodermis, which is subcutaneous fat that acts as a barrier between the skin and muscle. So, when we are talking about our skin barrier, we are referring to the epidermis.

Skin Layers

 

The role of skin

The skin barrier is permeable and has two main functions - it keeps the good things in and the harmful things out. The skin barrier has a huge job, it is the first line of defence protecting your body from pollution, toxins and UV radiation from sun exposure. Skin is remarkable in that it also prevents you from dehydration by regulating your bodies moisture levels from the inside out, maintaining moisture and keeping you hydrated.

6 signs your skin barrier needs some TLC

Disruption of the skin barrier's essential functions can manifest in a variety of ways, including the following:
1. Sensitised skin – skin is not settled and reacts to products that have not caused problems in the past
2. Persistent irritation
3. Dry and or scaly skin
4. Eczema*
5. Rosacea*
6. Acne
*Skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea may be partly attributed to genetics but external damage to the skin barrier will exacerbate their symptoms.

Environmental influences

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, whilst summer is an enjoyable time of year, it can wreak havoc on your skin barrier. The following list contains common reasons for skin barrier damage, and as you will see, a few listed below are certainly summer related!

- Pollution (environmental)
- Hot and cold temperatures
- Over exposure to the sun and harmful UV rays
- Dry or humid environments
- Harsh cleansers that deplete the skins natural balance
- Overuse of exfoliants
- Hot baths or showers
- An unhealthy diet
- Smoking
- Lack of sleep
- Stress
- Some medications

How to support your skin barrier

Now that you understand how much work your skin barrier has to do, you can see why treating it with some TLC in summer is so important. With that in mind, here are a few simple things you can do to help it along:
1. Limit sun exposure and use an SPF sunscreen
2. Moisturise daily and have a regular skin care routine
3. Drink water
4. Eat a healthy diet
5. Be gentle – avoid long hot showers, pat your skin dry as opposed to rubbing
6. Don’t smoke
7. Manage your stress – too much stress isn’t good for any part of your body, including skin.

In a nutshell

Your skin is unique to you, and it plays a huge part in helping keep your body healthy from the outside in. So love the skin you’re in, look after it and perhaps it’ll love you and your body even more back.

References:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1396-0296.2004.04S1005.x?casa_token=WMEFla5cGUMAAAAA%3AacuxYuUmXocoIoxHtXT8DitgraZDeCoMrrU6rFkghNNdf5i6L-SGbRkVmZxA91WOWCVDBZD6--RekCH3
https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/skin-barrier-what-to-know
https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-barrier#damage
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00786.x
https://nationaleczema.org/what-is-my-skin-barrier/
https://www.researchreview.co.nz/getmedia/48d9fa34-9f9f-4502-b8dd-c4f7b44b5d3e/Educational-Series-Skin-Microbiome-and-its-role-in-Atopic-Dermatitis-Derm.pdf.aspx?ext=.pdf
https://www.lookfantastic.com.au/blog/advice/skin-barrier-damage-and-how-to-fix/
https://dermnetnz.org/topics/barrier-function-in-atopic-dermatitis
https://dermnetnz.org/topics/microorganisms-found-on-the-skin