If you hear skincare product ads, you’ll find different features and benefits. Some fight hyperpigmentation, while others claim to clear your skin. Many, however, claim to work on the skin barrier, which sounds mythical as it is.
Regardless, the skin barrier is an important part of the body. So, what exactly is the skin barrier? Why is it necessary, and why do people talk about it? Here’s what you need to know.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. The outer layer of your body, called the epidermis, protects it from environmental threats like dirt, dust, germs, and bacteria. The stratum corneum, or the uppermost layer of the human skin, helps do this.
The skin is a barrier because it contains proteins called keratin and ceramides that keep moisture in and toxins, pathogens, microbes, and irritants out. These barriers keep harmful substances from penetrating your bloodstream and reaching your organs.
The epidermal and dermal layers of the dermis are composed of 11 to 15 distinct layers. At the top of the dermis is the stratum corneum, which comprises dead skin cells, elastin, and collagen. The epidermis is the thinnest and the most superficial part of the skin. It contains the dermis, subcutaneous fat, and connective tissue.
When you see brands like vegan makeup talk about the skin barrier, they mostly refer to the stratum corneum and the epidermis.
When the outermost layer of our skin is damaged, the barrier is breached. This can happen to our hands after washing them or our face after rubbing them. The damaged outermost layer is prone to infection and inflammation.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts can enter and damage the inner parts of the skin and affect other parts of the body. The effects of damage to the skin and its protective mechanisms can be age-related and nutritional.
Aging causes a decrease in the number of skin cells. It also causes a degeneration of the proteins that provide strength to the dermal layer and, as a result, a decreased ability of the skin to keep out harmful contaminants.
Other factors that can cause damage include chemical burns, excessive sun exposure, and repeated trauma. Inflammatory conditions, such as dermatitis and eczema can also impact the barrier.
The symptoms of a compromised or impaired skin barrier can be mild or severe. They depend on how much or how little the protective layer has been affected.
When there is a breach in the skin, defenses are compromised. When this is the case, it can affect many processes. One of the most common effects is weakened immunity. When there is a breach of the immune system, the body is more vulnerable to infections.
Milder symptoms are redness, itchiness, and dryness. The magnifier of these signs is usually due to other factors, such as a change in weather or season.
Severe symptoms such as blisters, bleeding, and extreme rashes often indicate a more severe problem with the dermal layer, such as a severe bacterial infection.
The acid mantle is a thin layer of acidic, naturally-made compounds that protect your skin barrier from bacteria and microorganisms. Your sebaceous glands produce this thin acid layer by mixing sebum with sweat.
The pH of healthy skin is 5.5, which is slightly acidic. The acidity of this level keeps harmful bacteria and fungus from infecting the skin. It prevents inflammation, irritation, and itching, among many others. The acidity of our bodies constantly fluctuates depending on the pH value of water from sources.
It’s important to note that constantly washing the skin can pose a problem too. While it’s important to wash your body when it’s dirty, too much can strip your skin of its natural acid mantle.
When it comes to your skin barrier, there are a few ways you can maintain and even regenerate its health. General skincare should be a must, together with several simple strategies that you can try.
If your diet lacks healthy fats and antioxidants, you may have dehydrated, inadequate, or low-quality skin. It is essential to drink plenty of fluids regularly. Every cell of our body needs water, which will help keep up our skin looking healthy and beautiful.
You can hydrate and moisturize by simply drinking more water or using a nourishing facial moisturizer. You can make your moisturizing cream at home by mixing rose water or calendula oil and aloe vera gel. Shea butter for hair and skin is also a good pick if you want to moisturize.
You can also sip on fresh coconut water, tea, and herbal tea. It’s important to avoid sugary drinks and caffeine, though. Too much of them can stop the absorption of water into cells and increase dehydration which can, in turn, make you feel sluggish.
Several factors can improve your skin barrier. One of these is a poor intake of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. Your brain, body, and other internal systems thrive on omega-3 and lean protein to help its ability to repair.
Ensure you eat adequate amounts of Omega-3 and vitamin-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, wild salmon, walnuts, shellfish, and mackerel. These kinds of foods also provide calcium, minerals, and fiber that can help with nourishment and protect the integrity of your skin barrier.
Your ceramide levels can decrease as you age. As this happens, your natural lipid balance is disturbed. That’s why it is essential to use products that can help rebuild the lamellar structure of your lipids, such as dimethicone and cetyl alcohol.
Another ingredient is glyceryl stearate, which helps keep dry skin moisturized. Oil cleansing benefits the skin, especially when using, jojoba oil, kukui nut oil, or coconut oil, which can help repair and restore the natural balance of your ceramides.
Maintaining and restoring a healthy and strong skin barrier is vital for your health. It is our largest and first line of defense, so keeping we want to strengthen it. The good news is there are many ways you can protect your skin.
Your daily routine can help keep your skin barrier healthy and glowing. The next time a product talks about the skin barrier, you’d know if they’re saying the right thing.