5 Signs Your Skin Barrier is Damaged & How to Get it Back on Track

Your skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum or epidermis, is the unsung hero of your skincare routine. It acts as a protective shield against external factors like bacteria and pollutants, bearing the brunt of what your skin faces each day. Consisting mainly of keratin, a protein that strengthens the skin, and lipids, which lock in moisture and prevent water loss, keeping this barrier intact is crucial for preventing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis, as well as maintaining moisture levels for glowing, hydrated skin.


Know Your Skin Barrier

Environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays, and harsh weather conditions can strip the skin of its natural lipids, damaging the skin barrier, while lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, and poor diet can also compromise it, all leading to oxidative stress. When the skin barrier is compromised, various skin issues may arise, including increased sensitivity, dryness, inflammation, signs of premature aging, and acne breakouts as bacteria penetrate more easily. Common skin conditions resulting from a compromised barrier include eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis, causing intense itching, redness, and discomfort, challenging the maintenance of healthy skin. But as with most things, knowledge is power and relief and repair are possible. Check out these 5 signs that will tell you if your skin barrier is damaged and how to get things back on track.


5 Signs Your Skin Barrier is Damaged

  1. Excessive Dryness or Flakiness: If your skin feels tight and looks dull, it may be struggling to retain moisture. 
  2. Increased Sensitivity: A damaged skin barrier can lead to increased sensitivity, causing your skin to react negatively to products or environmental factors it once tolerated. 
  3. Breakouts or Acne: When the barrier is compromised, bacteria and pollutants can penetrate deeper into the skin, leading to inflammation and blemishes.
  4. Excessive Oiliness: A weakened skin barrier can sometimes lead to excessive oiliness as the skin tries to compensate for moisture loss.
  5. Increased Redness or Irritation: Environmental stressors like pollution and UV exposure can exacerbate these symptoms.


Repairing Your Skin Barrier

To repair your damaged skin barrier, follow these steps:

  1. Gentle Cleansing: Use a gentle cleanser that won't strip away natural oils. Always choose one designed for your skin type, then any underlying skin condition. Or consider incorporating double cleansing into your skincare routine. 
  2. Hydration: Drink plenty of water and use hydrating skincare products.
  3. Moisturize: Choose a moisturizer rich in emollients (jojoba), humectants (aloe), and occlusives (shea butter).
  4. Ceramides:  Look for products containing ceramides to replenish lost lipids.
  5. Niacinamide:  Incorporate niacinamide to boost ceramide production and soothe inflammation.
  6. UV Protection: Protect your skin from UV damage with sunscreen and protective clothing. Choose a sunscreen that not only protects from UV rays, but also contains ingredients that deeply condition and hydrate the skin.
  7. Patience:  Repairing your skin barrier takes time, so be patient and consistent with your routine. And don't hesitate to consult a dermatologist or skin care professional if you're struggling to see improvement.