What is the skin barrier?
Your skin barrier (also known as your moisture or lipid barrier) is the very top layer of your skin (the epidermis). This is the outermost layer of your skin, with the other two inner layers being the dermis and hypodermis. Your skin barrier is made up of dead skill cells and lipids which hold them together.
Here is the basic science behind this: The lipid is the skin’s natural fats, they play a crucial role in maintaining the strength of the skin’s protective barrier. The lipid layer occurs as a result of sebum which is produced from the sebaceous gland mixing with sweat to form a protective acid mantle layer.
The epidermis layer and acid mantle layer provide the skin with a much-needed barrier to the outside world. The skin barriers two main purposes are to one retain moisture and nutrients and two to protect it from any irritants or any possible infection from environmental pathogens.
When the skin barrier is healthy and fully functioning, your skin is likely to be even-toned, balanced, and clear. When this barrier is damaged, this layer of defence is compromised. Like a shield - if it's broken you are less likely to be able to defend against oncoming attacks. (For your skin, the ammunition is pathogenic bacteria).
A compromised skin barrier presents as inflammation, skin sensitivity. dryness, excess oil production, and breakouts.
Quick tips for skin barrier health
Use gentle skincare products
You want to feed your skin with things that are going to help in retaining moisture and keeping bacteria out. Aggressive, harsh cleansers and facial products that strip the skin are doing the complete opposite and are inviting a pathogenic invasion by stripping away the shield that deflects invasive irritants and bacteria. Be gentle with your skin and use gentle but effective products.
Skin nourishing ingredients
If your skin is dry it is best to use ingredients or products that contain the likes of prebiotics, probiotics, chamomile, and green tea which will help nourish the skin and reduce inflammation.
Dial down the acids
If you're noticing redness, cut back on powerful actives such as Retinol (Vitamin A) and ascorbic acids (vitamin C) and use the bare minimum products (cleanser, moisturiser) to give your skin a chance to calm down.