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What is your Skin Barrier and How to Protect it

Your skin barrier shields your body from free radicals. Harsh and Severe environments often cause damage to your skin.

Beauty store shelves are filled with products that aim to protect your skin. Some of these products exfoliate, some moisturize, and others plump your skin.

All these products act on your body’s outermost layer called the skin barrier.

But what is that, what’s its purpose, and what can cause damage to it?

In this article, we’ll help to answer these questions and also share some steps that you can take to protect your skin.

What’s your skin barrier and what is its purpose?

Your skin is made up of different layers, each of which performs its function in protecting your skin.

The outermost layer of your skin is called the stratum corneum. It consists of cells called corneocytes that are bound together by lipids. This is your skin barrier.

Inside the skin cells, there are keratin and moisturizers. The lipid portion of this layer contains:

  • cholesterol
  • fatty acids
  • ceramides

Without this skin barrier, various harmful environmental toxins and microbes could enter your skin and cause harmful effects on your body.

In addition to this, without this barrier, the water present in your body would evaporate, and your body will become completely dehydrated.

Your skin barrier is very important for your health and should be protected to keep your body healthy.

What damages your skin barrier? 

Your skin protects against many threats, many of which come from outside your body, and some from within.

Some of the factors that can affect your skin barrier include:

  • a too humid or too dry environment
  • allergens and pollutants
  • Sun exposure
  • alkaline skin products
  • Harsh chemicals
  • Over-washing
  • genetic factors that may make you more prone to different skin diseases

The role of the acid

Your skin is slightly acidic in nature. This acidity helps create a kind of buffer against the growth of harmful microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) that can cause different skin infections.

How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged? 

If your skin barrier is not functioning properly, you may have the following skin symptoms and conditions:

  • Dry skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Rough patches on the skin
  • Acne
  • Skin infections

How to Protect your Skin Barrier

Maintaining your skin barrier and acid mantle is very important.

Let’s look at some strategies that can help to protect it.

Follow a simple skincare routine

A complicated daily skin regimen involves a bunch of products that may be weakening your skin barrier. Consult your dermatologist or another skin care professional about skincare products that are effective for your skin type.

People with sensitive skin should use a soft cloth and a mild chemical exfoliant. Notice how your skin is reacting to your products. Some types of scrubs may damage your skin.

Pay attention to the pH

Your skin’s pH is 4.7. But the pH of different skin products can range from 3.7 to 8.2.

Dermatologists recommend cleansing with a product that has a pH between 4.0 and 5.0.

A healthy pH level of your skin may help protect you from skin conditions like dermatitis, acne, and yeast infections.

Try a Plant Oil

Research suggests that certain plant oils may help to repair your skin barrier and keep it moisturized. Some plant oils have antimicrobial activity too that protects you from infections.

Here are some plant oils to consider using on your skin:

  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • almond oil
  • black currant oil
  • argan oil
  • borage oil
  • rosehip oil
  • primrose oil
  • soybean oil

You can apply creams and lotions that contain these oils as an ingredient. Or you can use a small amount of the oil to massage your skin gently with it.

Use Products that contain Ceramides

Ceramides are lipids that are found in the outermost layer of skin. They are very important for our skin.

Products containing pseudo-ceramides may help improve the dryness, and itchiness of your skin. Ceramide moisturizers may also provide strength to your skin. They may be especially helpful if you have acne.

Use hyaluronic acid, petroleum jelly, or glycerin Moisturizers

Moisturizers are the often-recommended solution for dry skin problems.

Moisturizer helps the skin barrier by lowering the water loss from your skin. These products form a thin film on your skin that locks the moisture.

One recommended moisturizer is petroleum jelly, which can block 99% of water loss from your skin. Products that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and honey are also good for your skin.

Gently apply moisturizer to your skin immediately when your skin is moist.

A Quick Review

The outermost layer of your skin is called your skin barrier which protects your body against harsh environments and also maintains water balance in your body.

Symptoms such as dryness, itching, and inflammation can be an alert that your skin barrier is not working properly.

You can protect and repair your skin’s barrier by:

  • Following a simple skincare routine
  • Using suitable pH products
  • Applying a moisturizer that contains ceramides or hyaluronic acid

Moisturizers with petroleum jelly can also seal your skin moisture.

Your skin outer layer is your first line of defense against harsh environments including chemicals, dust, allergens, and microorganisms. You should keep it healthy to have a healthy body.

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