Bringing out the best in our skin has less to do with layering on as many serums as humanly possible and more about focusing on the actual health of your skin. This starts with a healthy skin barrier.
The role of the skin barrier is to keep water in and irritants out. It is protected by a thin layer of lipids made up of sweat and sebum called the acid mantle. When the skin barrier is functioning optimally, your complexion will be supple, clear, and glowing – basically the characteristics that all #skingoals dreams are made of. If your skin barrier function is damaged, the skin will have a hard time retaining its natural moisture levels, which can lead to skin that is dry and tight. While it may seem counter-intuitive, dehydrated skin can also over-produce sebum to compensate for the lack of hydration. And that’s not all; skin can become sensitized, easily irritated, and more prone to breakouts.
There are a handful of factors that can damage the skin barrier – and many of them are beyond our control. One is age. As we get older, the skin barrier will inevitably start to weaken. Environmental irritants like pollution and cold weather can also attack and impair barrier function.
While you can’t stop time or change the weather, you can help your skin better protect itself by incorporating the products and ingredients mentioned below into your routine.
A Low pH Cleanser
Firstly, you may want to consider using a low pH cleanser. There are many glowing reviews for various high pH cleansers online and this is because some skin types with healthy skin barriers are able to use them without issue. However, if you think your skin barrier function may already be weakened, I’d recommend switching over to a cleanser that is going to be gentle on a compromised moisture barrier to prevent further damage. Consider the Acwell pH Balancing Bubble Free Cleansing Gel which as the name suggests, sits at a ideal 5.5 pH to support barrier function.
Of course, we can’t talk about strengthening the skin barrier without mentioning ceramides. Ceramides are the building blocks of the acid mantle and directly fortify skin barrier function. Luckily there are many products on the market right now with skin-loving formulas that include ceramides. A 2017 Best of K-beauty Winner and a personal favorite of mine is the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream, it’s the perfect consistency – it’s not too heavy, and not too light and works for most skin types, even those that are quite sensitive.
As mentioned, the key role of the skin barrier includes keeping water “in” to ensure the skin is properly hydrated. We can support this function by using ingredients like hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. The Plant Base Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid 100 is a hyper-targeted serum that is made up of 100% pure sodium hyaluronate. This form of hyaluronic acid has smaller molecules than average which means it is able to better penetrate the skin to flood it with hydration.
Lastly, one of the most important steps you can take to protect your skin barrier function is to ensure you are wearing sun protection everyday. Sun protection is your number one defense against premature signs of aging. Learn more about how to apply SPF for full protection to best support barrier function here.
It’s always in your best interest to use products that are formulated with your skin health in mind to support and strengthen barrier function for a healthy, glowing complexion.