This post will be sharing five products you can use to repair your damaged skin barrier.
I’m sure you have probably heard the phrase ‘skin barrier’ flying around and wondering what the hell it is. I also thought it was another ‘skincare marketing gimmick’ until I recently started to experience some irritation from using too many actives on my skin. Yes, there is such a thing as over-exfoliation. You can also unknowingly over-do it with your actives which can cause redness, inflammation and irritation. In the long run, it can also damage your skin barrier if it is not attended to fast enough.
So, what is the skin barrier?
Simply put, it is the outermost layer of the skin which you can feel and touch. I’m sure you are aware that our skin is the largest organ in our body. As such, it is made up of many layers which can easily be damaged when it is over-manipulated. This is one of the reasons why skincare is also a part of self-care which you should take seriously. Like every other thing that is precious to you, you need to tend to it with some tender, loving care.
When your skin barrier is healthy, it is soft, smooth and plump. It absorbs products well with little to no irritation. On the other hand, when it is damaged, it becomes unnecessarily dry, dull or easily irritated. This is where you start to notice your staple holy grail products don’t work anymore. Your skin suddenly becomes reactive for no reason. Before now, I used to ignore the signs of a damaged skin barrier. I thought my product was working. How wrong was I! But now, I’m super careful with my skin and try to pay enough attention to it during my routines. This way, I know when to stop using actives and switch to a repair and restore routine immediately.
What are the causes of a damaged skin barrier?
Personally, the biggest sign of my skin barrier being damaged is sensitivity and irritation. I have dry dehydrated skin that is never sensitive or easily irritated. I like to think that my skin can get away with anything because it is dry. But over the past year, the more actives I started to include in my routine, the more sensitive it became. So, I had to be really careful with my skin.
So, what other skincare practice can also cause your skin barrier to be damaged? Surprisingly, there are both internal and external factors that can contribute to a damaged skin barrier. They include but are not limited to;
- Pollution/ Low Air Quality
- Quality of water
- Lack of Sleep
- Ageing etc.
Obviously, these are factors that are out of our control. But what about the ones that within our control? What are some things that we do that would cause our skin barrier to be damaged?
With AHAs & BHAs easily accessible now, it’s so easy to get carried away and over-exfoliate. I know I’m guilty. When my Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Power Liquid starts to sting, I know my barrier is probably compromised. I also try to avoid using too many products with exfoliants. Instead, I try to balance it. So, for every exfoliating cleanser I use, I have a hydrating counterpart. It applies to toners as well. I try to avoid using too many exfoliants all at once. At every point in time, I have just one AHA and one BHA.
Layering active products
Layering your actives in itself is not bad but you’ve got to be careful. It’s so easy to get carried away especially if your skin doesn’t react the first couple of times. Instead, try to space out your actives. This is why I created the Skincare Routine Planner. It will help you split your actives between your AM & PM routines to avoid layering and prevent irritation. If your skin is not experienced with actives, it is best to avoid layering and use them one at a time.
It is 2020 and you have absolutely no excuse to not wear sunscreen. No excuse whatsoever! Sunscreens are cheap and readily available. Not wearing sunscreen is generally one of the causes of a damaged skin barrier whether you use actives or not. Even if you do use actives, not protecting your skin will make your skin even more sensitive and unable to repair itself. It’s like pouring water into an empty basket. If you are struggling to find affordable sunscreens with no white cast, check out 10 Best Korean Sunscreens on Amazon.
Hot Water, Harsh & Fragranced Products
If your skin is generally sensitive, you need to be super careful with it. Any little thing can easily trigger your skin to become reactive. If your skin is not sensitive, you also need to be careful to avoid sensitizing it. Practices like using hot water, harsh or overly fragranced products can easily irritate your skin and damaged your skin barrier. You want to be extra careful and avoid being careless.
Here are six products you can use to repair a damaged skin barrier.
If you know your skin barrier is easily damaged, you need to look out for barrier repairing products. There are certain products that are exclusively formulated to restore your damaged skin barrier. You need to have one or two of them in your routine on standby so when your skin starts acting up, you can easily switch up your routine. Look out for ingredients like Ceramides, Fatty Acids and Cholesterol.
This is personally a favourite of mine so much that I got a whole jar. During my routine, when I start to feel any irritation, I apply a thin layer as an occlusive at the end of my routine and it instantly calms my skin down. While it might be formulated with 46.5% Petrolatum, it doesn’t stop its effectiveness. It also has barrier preparing ingredients like Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid.
This is my current moisturizer for this winter which I’m loving so much. It’s such a rich thick moisturizer that instantly moisturizes my skin. It has a non-greasy formula which can be used for all skin types. Formulated with the world’s first Ceramide encapsulation technology, it encapsulates ceramides that form the skin barrier, helping to deliver and absorb valuable ingredients deep into the skin. – Source
Our beloved Cerave Moisturizing Cream is also amazing for repairing a damaged skin barrier. As you are probably aware, It contains three essential Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid which helps repair your skin’s natural barrier. Make sure you go for the cream and not the lotion to get great results.
While a lot of people are indifferent about facial oils, I can’t do without them in my routine. Whenever I do my repair routine, I always love to finish off with a nice oil. Most times, I use whatever I have around. So, it could either be The Ordinary Plant-Derived Squalane, Rosehip Oil or CBD Hemp Oil UK.
This is also a moisturizer that I am currently using. Although, I’ve had to swap it out for a thicker moisturizer for the cold weather. It is formulated with Niacinamide, Ceramides, Aloe Vera, Squalane and plant extracts to help any damaged skin barrier. it is also a non-greasy formula that can be used on all skin types.
This is easily one of the best selling products of 2020. Even though I haven’t used it and didn’t plan to, I’ve heard so many great things about this product that I’m tempted to try it. It is formulated with barrier- repairing ingredients Niacinamide, Squalane, Ceramide, Sodium PCA, Urea, Oat and Safflower Oil. Listen, if you want to get any product on this list, you should absolutely get this. It’s a game-changer. You don’t have to be tied down to a moisturizer as you can use this as a serum.
This list will not be complete with a recommendation from Paula’s Choice. This Omega+ Complex Serum happens to be one of their bestsellers for good reason. It is formulated with Shea Butter, Ceramides, Cholesterol and fatty acids like Linoleic Acid and Chia Seed Oil. Similar to the Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief, this serum is also great to nourish your skin, repair and strengthen your skin barrier.
What to do when your skin barrier is damaged.
When your skin barrier is damaged, you will definitely know. If you still don’t, you’re just not paying enough attention. One of the most obvious signs is irritation. Your skin becomes irritated and starts to sting for a few days. After a while, if you don’t attend it to, your skin becomes sensitive and reactive. You start to break out. Your skin becomes inflamed and just out of control. Here’s what you need to do when that happens:
- Stop all actives immediately. At this point, you need to simplify your routine as much as possible. Stick to the core routine of Cleanse, Moisturize and SPF. Take out all exfoliants, Vitamin Cs and Retinols.
- Create a barrier repair routine. This should be your nighttime routine where you will be focusing solely on barrier repair. Pick any of the serum and moisturizer above and stick to a simple Cleanse, Serum and Moisturize routine.
- Give your skin time to recover before slowly re-introducing actives back to your routine. This way you can fish out the exact product that is causing irritation and sensitivity. The recovery period can be anywhere between one week to one month depending on the gravity of the situation. I’ve definitely gone one month without actives before. So, listen to your skin and pay close attention.
Your skin barrier is so important that you need to pay attention to it. Any little irritation matters, don’t take it for granted as it can little to hyperpigmentation. If you notice that it is damaged, then focus your routine on barrier repair.