What is The Skin Barrier?
Our skin is made up of 3 major layers, each playing an important but different function. The skin barrier is the top protective layer of the epidermis layer. It serves as the first line of defence for the rest of the skin layers and our body by responding to microbial organisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, reducing the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and minimizing oxidative stress. The skin barrier also regulates our skin’s balance of oil and water. The skin barrier also supports skin cell turnover and skin elasticity. All in all, the skin barrier does a lot to ensure that our skin stays healthy and young!
How Can You Tell if Your Skin Barrier is Damaged?
While everyone’s skin is different, the signs of a damaged skin barrier are similar for everyone. If you or your facial therapist have access to a micro camera, you will be able to see the skin barrier looking like a broken wall: a brick-like structure that is cracked, dehydrated and even flaky. If you see a skin barrier that looks rather flat, without a brick-like structure, it is also a compromised skin barrier and one that is quite thin.
A normal skin barrier feels soft and smooth. It is not too oily, not too dry and not too dehydrated. It also has a natural radiance to it. When your skin battier is healthy, you tend to have less pigmentation as well.
On the other hand, a damaged skin barrier is the opposite of everything a healthy skin barrier is. Because it is compromised, it cannot carry out its functions at optimal levels, your skin can feel dry, tight, thin and even rough to the touch. It may also be sensitised, with occasional redness. Skin blemishes such as acne, pigmentation and lack of radiance are frequent occurrences.
How Do You Damage Your Skin Barrier?
The damage to your skin barrier does not happen overnight, instead, it is a result of bad skin habits that you make unknowingly throughout the years. The most commonly seen mistakes are the overuse of strong skin cleansers which tend to strip your skin barrier off its natural oil and chemical peels (often in an attempt to lighten pigmentation). These disrupt the components that make up a healthy skin barrier, such as the skin’s PH, oil, water and necessary dead skin cells.
How Can You Fix Your Skin Barrier?
Fixing your skin barrier is easy. Start with a gentle cleanser and gentle moisturiser. A cleanser that is milk- or emulsion-based removes dirt and sebum properly from your skin while not stripping it of its oil. bSoul Milk Cleanser is recommended for effective skin barrier repair. If you have oilier skin and would prefer a foam cleanser, you can start with IOMA Mild Toner Foam, and switch to a milk cleanser after 2 months.
Use a hydration-focused moisturiser such as bSoul Hydra Comfort Cream and IOMA Optimum Moisture Cream Day and Night for 2 months before switching up to a moisturiser with active ingredients that address other skin concerns. This is recommended so that you do not overload your skin with too many actions from the active ingredients in the initial months of fixing your skin barrier. You can experience skin discomfort if you try to do too much at the beginning.
If your skin is relatively drier and thinner, you can add some essential fatty acids to further improve your skin barrier.
Bear in mind your stratum corneum (skin barrier) is about 20 layers of cells thick, with each layer shedding approximately once every 28 days. While you can see improvements throughout your journey of skin barrier repair, you should expect approximately 20 months for your skin barrier to be relatively well repaired. Eventually, you will be rewarded with younger, more radiant skin that you can always rely on.