There are so many issues that we don’t care to talk about when it comes to skincare. One such issue is a damaged skin barrier that many women unknowingly suffer with.
Now if you’re wondering what a skin barrier is, let me tell you that it’s the outermost protective layer of your skin that you are naturally blessed with. It is made of proteins and lipids and is responsible for protecting the deepest layers of your skin from external threats like pollutants, UV rays and irritants. This also means that a damaged barrier can cause your skin to develop a host of skin problems that aren’t easy to combat. When the barrier gets compromised, your skin becomes more susceptible to sun damage, acne, irritation, redness, severe dryness and increased sensitivity to certain products.
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There can be many reasons why the skin barrier gets damaged, some of which are stress, using harsh products, over-washing or over-exfoliating your face and using products with potential irritants like drying alcohol or fragrances.
If you want to know whether your skin barrier has been compromised, look for some common signs and symptoms like acne breakouts, redness, irritation, parched skin or a newly developed sensitivity to certain products.
Though it’s never healthy for your skin to get its barrier damaged, you can repair it within a few weeks by incorporating certain habits in your skincare routine:
1. Scale Back On Exfoliation
Exfoliating too often, either with those harsh scrubs or AHAs and BHAs, can end up damaging your skin barrier. The moment you notice a sudden acne-breakout on your facial skin or feel redness, irritation or dryness, scale back on exfoliation. Even though exfoliation helps in getting rid of dead skin cells and opening clogged pores, it can do more harm than good if done very frequently.
In order to repair the barrier and to prevent it from further damage, go for very mild AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate your skin. The Ordinary Peeling Solution and Paula’s Choice RESIST Exfoliant solution are two of the mildest chemical exfoliants that you can use when your skin barrier is still under repair.
Be sure not to switch back to your previous regimen of over-exfoliating even after the barrier gets repaired. Be gentle on your skin and exfoliate no more than once in 4 to 5 days.
2. Work Proactively on Repairing The Barrier
Don’t just sit back and wait for the barrier to repair itself. Besides going easy on cleansing and exfoliating, you need to work proactively on strengthening your skin barrier.
Use a moisturizer enriched with ceramides, squalene or probiotics as these components help promote the production of lipids and healthy bacteria in your skin. Given that ceramide moisturizers are rich and heavy on the skin, they work best during sleep hours.
This means that you can go for a lightweight moisturizer during the day and switch to a ceramide enriched moisturizer at night. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream and Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Cream have always been my favorites when it comes to strengthening my skin barrier.
3. Hydrate Your Skin
Dehydration is one of main reasons why a skin barrier gets compromised, so leave no stone unturned to keep your skin hydrated at all times. Besides using a hydrating facial cleanser to wash your face, make sure that you have a humidifier kept in the room where you sleep.
Start the habit of moisturizing your face when it’s still damp after a cleansing session. This simple technique can help lock some of the water in your skin thereby keeping it hydrated. Besides that, introduce a humectant like hyaluronic acid or glycerin in your nighttime skincare routine to restore the hydration levels in your skin. Water and citrus fruits are some other natural sources of hydration that you must never skip on for a healthy skin barrier.
4. Cut Back On Possible Irritants
If any product in your skincare routine is a possible cause of irritation or is infused with strong fragrances, stop using it right away. If you feel a burning sensation upon applying a particular moisturizer or toner or serum, dispose it right away. Besides that, stay away from products that have alcohol or essential oils as an ingredient as they can be a possible cause of irritation on your skin.
5. Cleanse With Caution
Cleansing is one skincare regimen that many people approach wrongly and end up elongating the barrier repair process. Apart from choosing the wrong cleanser for their skin, they often err in choosing the right water temperature for washing their face.
For the barrier to fix itself as soon as possible, you need to invest in a good-quality hydrating cleanser. Besides that, apply the cleanser gently in light circular motions to help stimulate blood circulation and use lukewarm water to rinse it off. Once you’ve washed your face, pat it gently with a soft washcloth until it’s damp enough to apply the moisturizer. Do not make the mistake of using a harsh or abrasive towel to wipe your face as it can further aggravate the damaged skin barrier.
6. Simplify Your Skincare Regimen
Sometimes, using the wrong skincare products can be a huge reason for why your skin barrier keeps getting damaged. In that case, you might have to simplify your skincare regimen and cut back on products that could possibly be responsible for causing the damage. Consult a dermatologist to figure out the right mix of products that would be suitable for your skin.
Take no risks when it comes to protecting your skin barrier because it is no less than a brick wall that guards your skin against anything that can damage it.
Now that you know the many signs and symptoms of a damaged skin barrier and some easy ways to fix it, it’s time to ensure that your skin stays healthy and protected. In a nutshell, it’s all about extending some extra love to your skin until and after the barrier gets repaired and taking all preventive measures to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged again.