6 Ways to... Maintain a Strong Barrier Function
The skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, is the uppermost layer of the skin and the layer that we can see.
It's our skin's first barrier from the outside world protecting it from environmental stressors such as pollution, UV exposure, irritants and is also waterproof - pretty amazing right? It's also there to stop hydration escaping from the skin which we all know can lead to itchiness, flaking and generally lacklustre skin.
If your barrier is compromised, irritation and inflammation can occur as more environmental stressors are able to penetrate the skin. The skin may feel sensitive to touch and be more red and irritated than usual.
When your barrier is strong and robust, you'll literally be able to see the difference. Your skin will have a smoother texture, better hydration levels and it will appear calmer and more radiant.
Here are our 6 favourite ways to keep your barrier in tip-top condition.
It’s time to pack away foaming cleansers, soaps and harsh astringent products for good! Your skin barrier is made from dead skin cells that are held together by lipids- your skin’s fat. Lipids are like the mortar in a brick wall. When you use harsh products, you can break down this mortar which leads to a weakened wall. Hot temperatures when you shower or bath, as well as over-exfoliating, can also break down the barrier so a gentle approach really is best. Swap out foaming cleansers for milky alternatives like Esse Skincare Sensitive Cleanser.
Protect your skin
Give your skin a helping hand at protecting you by incorporating anti-oxidants into your skincare routine and applying SPF every day. Antioxidants will mop up free radicals that can contribute to cell damage whilst SPF will block UV rays that can lead to inflammation, weakened skin and collagen and elastin loss. Some of our favourite antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin A, and plant polyphenols like acai and wild carrot oil. Synergie SupremaC is a potent triple acid serum that delivers highly effective, stable vitamin C. Plumscreen by Le Prunier is gentle enough for all skin types and is an antioxidant rich, moisturising SPF 31.
Don’t skip the moisturiser
Hydrated cells = plump cells and improved skin health. If you’re using a hydrating serum, it’s essential to seal in that moisture with a cream or oil. It behaves like an extra barrier on the skin, stopping hydration from escaping. If your moisturiser contains barrier strengthening ingredients like omega oils and niacinamide then there are even more benefits! We love applying our Essential Serum followed by Synergie Skin DermaCalm.
Use the right ingredients
There are some true hero ingredients in the quest for a health barrier. Niacinamide is essential for the production of ceramides - the building blocks of your skin - Synergie Skin Vitamin B contains a huge amount of this hero ingredient. Probiotics promote a happier and more diverse microbial community which is essential for protecting your skin from pathogens - Esse Probiotic Serum contains live probiotics and is a great serum to improve your microbiome. Linoleic acid is a low molecular weight oil that plays an extremely important role in maintaining a healthy barrier. It’s an omega-6 fatty oil which your body needs to produce ceramides. You can find it in Odacité Gr+G.
Get the right pH balance
Your skin is slightly acidic, sitting around 4.5 - 5.5 on the pH scale. If this pH is affected, it breaks down the barrier of the skin which can lead to tightness, dryness and irritation. pH can be altered by soaps and any products with a more alkaline pH (7 and above). Environmental factors such as pollution, chlorine rich tap water and some cosmetics can also alter the pH. To keep your skin at the right level, avoid any soaps and detergents touching the skin and protect your skin from environmental factors with SPF and antioxidants as above. Using pH balancing toners like Esse Skincare Toner Plus will also help your skin maintain a good balance.
Book in for treatments
If you are looking to target any skin conditions it's so important to begin by strengthening the skin barrier first before performing any advanced treatments and your skin's improved resilience will mean faster healing and better results.
If your barrier is particularly compromised and you need a helping hand, professional facial treatments can be hugely beneficial at aiding barrier repair and strengthening the skin. Our Gently Does It treatment is designed to soothe and repair sensitised, damaged skin with the help of live probiotics and epidermal growth factors. LED light therapy is clinically proven to aid repair and reduce inflammation levels so it’s a great thing to book in for between your treatments to continue strengthening and repairing the skin.