The skin is a complicated organ composed of many layers that keep the body protected from external environmental stressors or microorganisms. It’s an organ that works day and night, with the uppermost layer of the skin, the skin barrier, protecting you from DNA-damaging elements. As a result of our polluted environment, people use extra powerful skin care products and harsh spa treatments that may weaken skin barrier function. What does that mean for your skin?
What Is The Skin Barrier?
The skin barrier is part of the skin’s top layer, known as the stratum corneum. It contains corneocytes and a lipid interface that glues them together. Together, the lipid interface and corneocytes are like the brick and mortar structure of the skin. The lipid interface comprises free fatty acids, cholesterols, and ceramics. In an optimal state, the skin barrier sheds the top layer to naturally exfoliate itself and keep the skin’s moisture intact. Problems occur when the skin barrier is not functioning optimally.
Why Should You Keep The Skin Barrier Strong?
If the skin barrier is overly permeable, it has a leaky quality, similar to a leaky gut. That means that pathogens, bacteria, and other microorganisms can pass through the skin barrier and cause internal problems, including hives, allergic reactions, or eczema. Supporting the skin barrier is not just to keep your skin looking as healthy as possible. According to a 2019 study, there is a link between skin dysfunction and various health conditions caused by inflammation. The study found that using barrier repair moisturizers helped to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood. That highlighted the skin’s protective role in overall health. If you want to encourage a healthier skin barrier, use the following supportive ingredients.
Derived from the fruit of the shea tree, shea butter is a natural fat that provides the skin with deep hydration and protection. The natural fatty acids and vitamins in shea butter offer emollient properties that help to lock moisture into the skin. These nutrients also aim to promote collagen production and decrease the breakdown of existing collagen.
Any ingredient that pulls in and holds water is considered a humectant. Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and beeswax are all humectants, but they cannot heal the skin barrier on their own. Humectants do keep the skin moisturized while you repair the skin barrier function. According to dermatologists, humectants hydrate the epidermis while sealing in and retaining water with an outer layer of lipids. Apply humectants topically before an occlusive cream or oil to repair a compromised skin barrier.
Aloe vera is rich in exfoliating enzymes, anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Because of these health properties, aloe is great for the skin, no matter if you suffer from acne, burns, or dry skin. Aloe works to cleanse the skin, but also hydrate it in the process. The hydrating properties of aloe vera make it an excellent choice for anyone who suffers from dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin.
Colloidal oatmeal, oat extract, and oat oil all work to form a protective seal on the skin. For people who have sensitive skin, colloidal oatmeal is a very helpful ingredient. According to research, oat extract’s anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal exhibits several clinical properties, which stem from the chemical polymorphism. The high concentration of polymorphism is responsible for colloidal oatmeal’s ability to protect the skin and help it retain moisture. Additionally, colloidal oatmeal may boost creamed levels in the skin, which works to keep skin cells together.
Renowned for its ability to repair, Manuka honey is very effective at healing wounds, burns, and other topical damage. Several studies concluded that Manuka honey inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, which explains the ability to accelerate wound healing. Due to the impressive antioxidant profile, Manuka honey exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that fight against dermatitis, acne, and eczema. These skin conditions, and more, tend to stem from a damaged skin barrier.