How to repair your skin barrier
Are your biggest skin concerns caused by something you've never heard of? They could be! Estheticians have long recognized the importance of healthy skin barriers – but many people outside of the industry have never even heard of them. You cannot have skin that is supple, healthy and protected if your barrier is damaged.
Plus, modern day life takes its toll on your natural barriers, which is why skin barrier repair has become a recent focus in the world of skin care. Keep reading to learn how to repair damaged barriers with the right skin barrier repair products for a youthful, calm complexion.
Do you have a damaged skin barrier?
Most people certainly do. If you have any of the following concerns, it's very likely you have a damaged skin barrier:
If you have one or more of the above concerns, you need to learn how to repair the damage and strengthen them, so you see results long term.
What is a skin barrier?
Skin barrier definition depends on which barrier you are talking about. The skin has several "barriers" – cellular walls, circulatory and lymphatic vessels, and the walls that separate each layer of the skin.
"Each of these is a 'barrier' that only allows certain substances to pass back and forth. But perhaps the most important is the hydrolipidic barrier, which resides on the surface of the skin (directly on top of the Stratum Corneum), and is comprised of dead skin cells, sebum and water." –Teresa Stenzel, Bioelements Director of Education
Strong skin barriers are necessary to protect the skin and its contents from damaging substances that would otherwise penetrate and absorb into the skin. They also to keep in nourishment, moisture, and in some cases are what allow bodily functions to take place and necessary substances to be transferred to wherever they need to go.
"As estheticians, we have long recognized that a depleted hydrolipidic barrier is a major common denominator for accelerated aging and unhealthy skin that looks older than its years." –Stenzel
Without the protection that our hydrolipidic barrier provides, the skin is laid bare to every attack and will become increasingly weaker and the aging process will accelerate the longer the barrier is left out of balance. Plus, without a strong barrier to protect it, any skin care benefits are only temporary.
What damages the barrier?
"Skin damage occurs in a multitude of different ways, especially in today's world" – Alina Houtz, Senior Esthetician, Jordan Thomas Salon & Spa
Specifically, your hydrolipidic barrier becomes damaged for many reasons, both internally and externally:
Internally: Certain skin conditions can easily lead to an impaired barrier. For example, those with rosacea have skin layers that contain less moisture and a circulatory system that has an impaired ability to transfer oxygen, nutrients and eliminate metabolic waste. This leads to dehydration, which then throws the hydrolipidic barrier out of whack as the skin becomes drier and flakier over time.
Someone with acne may have a skin that produces too much sebum, which affects the hydrolipidic barrier's balance as well. Even natural, chronological aging can cause the barrier to become weaker.
Externally:Improper product and/or cosmetic use, over cleansing, over exfoliation, pollution, stress, unprotected UV exposure, poor diet, etc. can have a dramatic effect on the skin's surface, which in turn obliterates the barrier.
"The harmful effects of UV rays and atmospheric pollution critically damage your barrier and are often the top two culprits, along with not taking care of your body and skin properly." – Houtz
Surprisingly, many people with oily skin damage their barrier function the worst:
"While you may be tempted to strip your skin of all oil using harsh scrubs, oil blotting papers and more, you're actually depleting skin of its natural hydrolipidic barrier too. This thin film helps keep skin supple, healthy, protected and balanced, so it's crucial to coax your skin into shape, not assault it." –Rhonda Robb, licensed esthetician and Bioelements educator
As the entire population gets older and lives longer, external environmental assaults such as pollution and even stress levels increase, which is why barrier repair is now more crucial than ever.
"A damaged barrier cannot do its job – to naturally protect the skin by keeping out the bad, and keeping in the good. Rather than covering up a skin concern learn how to strengthen the barrier to solve the problem at the core – so the positive results are long-term." –Stenzel
How to repair damaged skin barriers
The first step to repairing your damaged barrier is to follow the right daily routine.
"It's important to identify products that cause damage. Simply ask yourself a few questions during your home routine, like does this cleanser make my skin feel too tight? If so, you could be drying your skin out and causing sensitivity. How does your skin feel when you exfoliate? Is it red, tight and warm to the touch? If it is, you are most likely stripping your skin's natural barriers." – Houtz
Regardless of your skin type always cleanse, tone, and moisturize twice a day and apply a broad spectrum sunscreen every morning. Find the best daily products for your skin type here.
Exfoliation is crucial for all skin types as well, even sensitive.
"When done properly, exfoliation increases the rate of cell turnover, increases lymph flow, causes vasodilation, and stimulates nerve respond to trigger the skin's self-reparative ability." –Stenzel
If you have sensitive or unpredictable skin, gently exfoliate with Measured Micrograins+ to strengthen your barrier and soothe sensitized skin. For other skin types, find your perfect exfoliator match here.
Just be sure to use gentle pressure when applying your exfoliator, or any other product. Don't overdo it with products and use them as directed to avoid barrier damage.
"If your skin is dehydrated, add products to your daily agenda that have humectants in them (ingredients that attract moisture molecules and hold them within the skin). Saturate your skin with you're a hydrating toner, don't skimp." –Stenzel
"With so many different aggressors affecting our skin, it's crucial to heal your skin's natural barriers with the right products and with professional treatments. Find a trusted esthetician near you to work with to get your skin on track." – Houtz
The best barrier repair masks
Besides following the right daily routine, using high quality barrier repair products can help undo most of the damage. Bioelements latest barrier repair masks, Collagen Rehab and Radiance Rescue, do just that.
Collagen Rehab uses skin replacement lipids and fillers to dramatically improve lipid barrier repair. This ingredient helps prevent epidermal water loss and daily damage to help strengthen skin's barrier, while vitamin F helps keep membranes penetrable and younger. This formula also creates a discnerable moisture barrier for up to 72 hours.
"You will feel an immediate springiness and plumpness to your skin after applying it. Aloe is one reason why this formula is so protective to the skin's moisture barrier, protecting skin from the outside AND inside, which is why the results last for days." –Stenzel
Radiance Rescue, on the other hand, uses murumuru and shea butters to deliver fatty acid-rich moisture to keep skin soft and elastic while strengthening skin's barrier. The ginseng in this formula also aids in barrier repair and helps prevent damage.