Why the health of your skin barrier is so importantadmin
Skin barrier health refers to the condition and integrity of the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum. The skin barrier acts as a protective shield, preventing water loss, blocking harmful substances and defending against environmental factors like bacteria, pollutants, and UV radiation.
A healthy skin barrier is essential for maintaining overall skin health. It helps retain moisture, keeps the skin hydrated and protects against irritation and infection. When the skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to various skin issues, including dryness, itching, redness, sensitivity and increased susceptibility to infections. It is also fundamental in our quest to age as well as we possibly can and look good for our age.
Several factors can affect skin barrier health:
- Moisture balance: Adequate hydration is crucial for maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Excessive exposure to hot water, harsh soaps and dry environments can strip away the skin’s natural oils, leading to dryness and damage.
- pH balance: The skin’s pH level plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy barrier. The ideal pH for the skin is slightly acidic, around 5.5. Disruptions in pH balance can weaken the barrier function and make the skin more susceptible to damage.
- Avoid over-exfoliating: Excessive exfoliation can cause damage to the skin barrier. Limit exfoliation to 1-2 times per week and choose gentle exfoliants like lactic acid or enzyme-based products
- Environmental factors: External factors such as cold weather, wind, air pollution, and UV radiation can compromise the skin barrier. These factors can cause oxidative stress and inflammation, leading to barrier dysfunction.
- Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to skin conditions that affect the barrier, such as eczema or atopic dermatitis.
- Beauty routines: too many harsh products, like gritty exfoliators, intense acids and drying sulfates can cause severe damage to your skin barrier. Also, over complicated and over zealous routines can send your skin barrier into freefall.
To promote and maintain skin barrier health, consider the following tips:
- Gentle cleansing: Use mild, fragrance-free cleansers that do not strip away the skin’s natural oils. Avoid hot water and opt for lukewarm water instead. Avoid harsh ingredients, some skincare products contain ingredients like alcohol, fragrance, or sulfates, which can irritate and damage the skin barrier. Read labels carefully and choose products that are gentle and free of potential irritants.
- Moisturise: Apply a moisturiser suitable for your skin type regularly to help replenish and retain moisture. Look for products with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
- Protect from the sun: Of course we all know how important using a sunscreen daily all year round is to prevent premature ageing. Use a SPF with broad-spectrum protection and a minimum SPF of 30. Shielding the skin from harmful UV radiation helps prevent damage and supports the skin barrier.
- Avoid irritants: Minimise exposure to harsh chemicals, strong detergents and irritating substances that can disrupt the skin barrier. Wear protective gloves when handling chemicals or doing household chores.
- Hydrate from within: Stay well-hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water each day. Proper hydration benefits overall skin health.
- Balanced diet: Eat a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support skin health. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats in your meals.
- Humidify the air: In dry environments, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air and prevent excessive drying of the skin.