First things first, what is the skin barrier? The skin barrier consists of cells and is made up of lipids (fats) and it forms the skin’s outermost layer. Also known as the permeability barrier, moisture barrier, or lipid barrier, the skin barrier is responsible for making sure essential water and electrolytes do not evaporate from the skin.
When the skin barrier is damaged, signs of redness or inflammation, dehydration, itchiness, flakiness, or acne flare-ups will occur. A weak or damaged skin barrier is mostly dry or dehydrated, so it is unable tolock in moisture, making it easier for irritants and bacteria to penetrate the skin. If a client’s skin easily reacts to products and feels a stinging or burning sensation during product application, chances are their skin barrier is damaged.
The skin barrier can become compromised through over-exfoliation. Harsh scrubs can cause damage to the skin barrier. Alcohol-based toners, pollution,some essential oils, smoking, dry climates, environmental stressors, sun exposure, genetics, aging, as well as airplane travel can cause skin barrier damage.
DAMAGED SKIN BARRIER
First, re-assess the client’s skin care routine and figure out the culprit. Did they recently try a new product that madetheir skin react poorly? Or perhaps they are piling on way too many products that are actually doing more harm than good?
The skin has its own microbiome – the natural levels of bacteria which work with the oils and natural hydration of skin to keep the barrier strong from the outside environment and to keep it at the ideal pH level (around 5.5). This contributes to a healthy skin barrier.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
There are plenty of products that can help restore a natural protective barrier. Since the client’s skin will not be able to protect itself, suggest products that are formulated with skin-restoring ingredients. Recommend clients to stay away from sulfates, parabens,and alcohols as these ingredients only make things worse for a compromised skin barrier. Avoid all actives, such as alpha hydroxy acidslike glycolic, lactic, and malic acids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C, vitamin A, retinol, and harsh or high pH cleansers, and scrubs. These can cause further damage to the barrier.
For a considerable amount of time, keep the client’s routine consistent and simple. Go for a low pH cleanser, as this will not disturb the natural pH level of the skin and will keep it balanced. Certain types of alcohol are damaging as they strip the skin of its moisture. Avoid toners that contain denatured, isopropyl, or benzyl alcohol. Fortunately, not all types of alcohol are harmful, so do not worry if there iscetyl, ceteryl, glycol, or stearyl alcohol. These fatty alcohols are great for the skin. Plus, they also keep all the other ingredients in the product stable. Serums are a must as they contain a high concentration of ingredients that repair the skin barrier. Look for serums and moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide or ceramides, oils, including jojoba, sea buckthorn, CBD, Abyssinian, pomegranate, carrot, squalene, sweet almond oil, and all forms of vitamin E (tocopherol), as these ingredients not only nourish the skin but also protect it against further damage. They are also gentle and help repair skin damage. Last but not least, apply sun protectant factor. When a client’s skin barrier is damaged, it needs all the protection it can get. Skipping on the sun protectant factor will worsen the situation. No matter the weather, apply a layer of sun protectant factor every day on top of a moisturizer and underneath makeup.
Going through skin issues can be tough, but one thing to remember is to give the client’s skin time. Remind clients that there are no shortcuts, and products may not miraculously give them perfect skin within a day, week, or even a month. With the right combination of products that suit their skin type, soon enough they will have skin that is glowing, hydrated, and supple.