Much like ogres and onions, skin has many layers, each serving a different purpose. The outermost layer is one you hear of frequently in the skincare world most often referred to as the Moisture Barrier.
This layer is your skins first line of defence, positioned to keep out all the bad things we encounter in our day-to-day lives that wish to seep into our innocent unknowing skin and cause damage to our beautiful, youthful complexion. While also, as the name suggests, keeping the much-needed water in your skin (and other organs) from escaping through literal evaporation.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The moisture barrier is made up of a Lipid Matrix. Sounds complicated, I know, but think of it as a grid made up of dead skin cells, natural lipids, cholesterol and fatty acids. When healthy, these cells pack together super tightly to create, you guessed it, a barrier! The more it’s compromised, the more room there is in between your skin cells for moisture to escape and bacteria to enter.
IS YOUR MOISTURE BARRIER DAMAGED?
Almost every skin problem is the result of an impaired moisture barrier. If you experience anything from:
Prone to irritation
Skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis
Even if it’s just a slightly dry and peeling nose. Then most likely your moisture barrier has been compromised and is in desperate need of repair.
MY MOISTURE BARRIER IS DOWN! HOW DO I FIX IT?
So, you’ve come to the realisation that your moisture barrier has been damaged. First things first, DON’T PANICK! We can fix this. There are a number of things you can do to get those cells back and good as new.
1. DITCH THE EXFOLIANTS
Put down those acid serums, peels and enzyme masks, skip the face scrubs and for the love of god do not even look at that Clarisonic. One of the biggest causes of barrier damage is over exfoliation. In order to repair the moisture barrier, you need to let the cells build back up so they can regroup and rebuild their tight nit grid. As hard as it may be to remove these steps from your routine it is absolutely necessary. When you feel your skin is healthy again reintroduce them slowly and NEVER use exfoliating products on a daily basis. EVER. 2-3 times a week is more than enough.
2. TAKE IT EASY
Your skin is highly sensitive right now so be easy on it! Switch out harsh cleansers for a gentle, hydrating, non-foaming and sulphate free alternative like this one and be sure to not use hot water on your face. High water temperatures dilate the capillaries and raise the skin’s internal temperature which in turn will impair the barrier.
Also avoid products that are highly fragranced especially synthetic fragrances. The way most fragrance ingredients impart scent is through a volatile reaction which almost always causes sensitivity and irritation. Be sure to check your ingredients for unnecessary synthetic fragrances and remove those products from your routine immediately. (keep in mind that while a product may have a strong scent it doesn’t necessarily mean it has UNNECESSARY fragrance. Some natural and beneficial ingredients just smell nice)
Most importantly remember to use SPF. UV rays given off by the sun are another major contributor to a weakened barrier so daily protection is imperative even after the skin is repaired.
The final thing you absolutely must do to repair your moisture barrier is to stay hydrated inside and out. Drink lots and LOTs of water and choose the right moisturiser. Products that include Hyaluronic Acid and Lactic Acid are your new best friends. Hyaluronic Acid binds water up to 1,000 times it’s weight which means it will retain moisture in your skin like nothing else allowing your skin to rehydrate. Lactic Acid, while it is an exfoliator, is also a humectant, which means it will actually increase the moisture levels of your skin.
Other ingredients to look for on the back of your moisturiser that will benefit your skin by mimicking the natural lipids your skin produces are:
Bois De Rose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride Linoleic/Linolenic Acids
Tocopheryl Linoleate (vitamin E)
Tocopheryl Linoleate/Oleate (vitamin E)
Tocopherol (vitamin E)
Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E) Phytosterols
Sweet Almond Oil
Sesame Seed Oil
Using a face oil over your moisturiser as well will provide a protective seal so all the moisturising products applied underneath are less likely to evaporate especially at night and during the dryer months of winter. So now you know, we trust that you will treat your skins greatest protector with the utmost respect from now on because that silent defender is working hard to save your skins life.
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