Health is at the forefront of our thoughts these days. We are focusing on ways to keep our bodies strong and resilient, and our skin is a vital component. When your skin barrier is balanced and strong, it protects from external aggressions and also prevents loss of moisture. Conversely, when it is damaged, it allows irritants in and moisture evaporates, which leaves your skin dull, dehydrated and sensitive.
WHAT IS IT?
So what exactly, you ask, is your skin barrier? Just as its name implies, it is the shield your skin uses to protect itself. Have you ever seen a rock wall that has been left unattended, with holes where soil now escapes and weeds have taken a foothold? A properly cared for wall keeps the good soil in and the bad weeds out, and can withstand the effects of the environment.
WHAT CAUSES DAMAGE?
As with anything in this world, aging will naturally break down all things over time. But many of us accelerate that process by some bad habits such as over-exfoliating (are you a “more is better” person?), tanning, and little-to-no daily skin care. In addition to these (bad) habits, here are some other ways your barrier can be compromised:
- Poor diet
- Genetic conditions, i.e. excema and psoriasis
Remember the rock wall? A damaged barrier allows transepidermal water loss, or TEWL for those who love abbreviations. Moisture evaporates through the “holes,” leading to dry, dehydrated skin. This has an end result of fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness. It also allows irritants in (the weeds), resulting in inflammation and sensitivity.
WHAT DO I DO?
Fortunately, a damaged skin barrier can be restored. Following are some things you can do to get your barrier back in optimum balance.
Drinking plenty of water is only part of the equation. You also need to apply moisturizer both morning and night for optimal hydration retention.
- REACH FOR ANTIOXIDANT-RICH PRODUCTS
Load up – internally and externally. Products rich in things like vitamin C, E and ferulic acid (found in plant cell walls) are all powerful antioxidants that repair damage.
- APPLY SUNSCREEN DAILY
A broad-spectrum sunscreen is your last line of defense to protect your (now-healthy) skin barrier.