How many have you been reading about products saying they could help improve skin barrier but don’t even have the slightest hint about what is it?
Skin barrier? The face right? But, isn’t that the reason skincare products exist? To help fix the skin overall? Erm, nope. there’s no such thing as 1 product which can fix all problems. Some products may bring you more harm than good to you.
So today, let’s understand about skin barrier.
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of our epidermis (epidermis is the outer layer of the 2 main layers of cells that make up the skin). Haaa tricky already?
Basically, there are 3 layers of skin:
Epidermis (outermost) > Dermis (thicker and does most work) > Hypodermis (or also known as Subcutaneous fat).
So in short, the skin barrier is the skin that we can all see.
A healthy skin barrier keeps irritants out while locking natural oils & moisture in. The unhealthy version doesn’t act that way at all. Instead, the ones which are supposed to be locked in are transferred out (Eg: TEWL) while irritants and allergens get into the skin, which causes many dermatological issues such as dryness, breakouts, inflammation, and overall sensitivity.
A healthy skin barrier consists of lipids such as Ceramides, Cholesterol, and Essential Fatty Acids
Now the question is, how do we fix this?
We’ve understood that there are 3 layers of skin but the one key piece of our skin is called the acid mantle. This is a slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin (made of natural oils, sweat, and amino acids) which could shield the skin from the unwanted (we’re speaking bacteria, viruses, and other sorts of contaminants).
The acid mantle plays an important role in protecting the skin barrier from external threats by working with skin natural ingredients. We’re talking about Ceramides, Cholesterol, Enzymes, and even our skin’s oil (yes, that oil that you keep trying to remove with harsh products. Not all oil are bad guys). When the skin is out of balance (due to you trying to fix things when it’s not needed), skin conditions such as dryness, inflammation, acne, and oiliness starts to arise.
Wait, hold on. Why does oiliness start to arise too when we’ve removed them?
The skin produces its own oil to make the skin appears more hydrated and healthy (and youthful). But when you strip away all the oil just so that you feel squeaky clean, your skin than had to work twice even harder to make sure your skin is compensated (missing oil is replaced). It’s already tough for the skin because as you age, your skin starts to not produce oil as much as we were younger.
So now let’s understand what is harming our skin barrier.
- Products we use
Using too many products or using the wrong ones can disrupt the skin barrier.
- Using Harsh Products
Skin care formulas containing drying alcohol, synthetic fragrance, or harsh essential oils in them can damage the skin and strip off its nutrients.Surrounding
Always use SPF! Environmental aggressors like UV rays and pollution can also wreak havoc on your skin.
How to protect the skin?
- SPF! always always always always use SPF!
- Go basic again! Start off with a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF! Once you start seeing results, then start adding more products to treat targeted areas but only one at a time. Meaning, give the skin about 2 weeks to get used to the product before adding in a new product (but it depends on your skin type, some skin are super not sensitive meaning they can start adding new products as early as 2 days). But the reason why we’re doing this is to make it easier to identify which product is making your skin inflamed. If you try all 5 products at once, how do you know which one is causing your skin to act up?
- Be consistent (guilty of). But really, be consistent. You can’t expect results to appear if you don’t even use it regularly.
- Exfoliate. If you’re afraid of exfoliating (in case it’ll harm the skin even more), then use a gentle exfoliator. You can go with clay masks (by @yelloskincare & jelitaKL) or gentle acids such as Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. But, always make sure to only use it once a week. This is to remove dried skin cells and clogged pores, which is often the reason to breakout.
- Avoid harsh ingredients. Alcohol, Parabens, SLS. You name it.
Question: If I were to start using a new product, can I do it straight away or should I give the skin sometime of its own first (meaning not using any products before using new products)?
NOPE! Your skin is smart! When we say give some time of its own, it’s more to when you’re applying 2 or more products at once. But if you’re only changing 1 product, then go ahead and change it tonight, tomorrow, or whenever you one.
It takes time, good products, consistency, patience, and money to good skin. Take it slow. The journey/process is beautiful.