How to Fix a Damaged Skin Barrier?
I never knew how important my skin barrier is until i ruined it with anti-acne products containing ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Tretinoin and the likes. While they are definitely useful to help prevent and treat acne, they can also be extremely harsh on your skin if you are not applying a good enough moisturizer and SUNSCREEN.
You can get your hands on the best acne fighting products but if your skin barrier is weak, you could be doing more harm than good. A thin, weak or damaged skin barrier allows irritants in, or irritates more easily - hence you will experience a lot of negative side effects instead of the promised benefits of the products. And so, building up this surface layer could be the key to reducing skin sensitivity long term.
If your skin barrier is working well, it will retain water effectively, maintaining good hydration balance, and be resilient yet flexible – it’s likely to look more radiant as a consequence. This means it contains the right amount of lipids, and the right amount of Natural Moisturising Factor. If it’s not, skin will look dry, dull and possibly scaly. This means chemicals can penetrate more readily and potentially cause inflammation, which manifests as skin sensitivity – these patients will often complain of stinging or redness, especially in context of using certain skincare ingredients. Once you’ve had a reaction to a product, your skin’s uppermost layer is compromised, giving way to the potential for even more problems but fear not! You can fix it with the right routine and products.
Symptoms of a damaged moisture barrier
- Dryness (from lack of oil)
- Dehydration (from lack of water)
- Tightness (dehydration from lack of water)
- Skin feels sensitive and gets easily irritated
- Rough skin to the touch
- Stinging or burning sensation when products are applied
- Fine lines
- Skin rashes like eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Increased breakouts
If you have any or all of these symptoms, no matter what your age, this might be a sign that your moisture barrier has been compromised and is in desperate need of fixing.
Here are some tips to help you fix your skin's barrier!
1. KEEP YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE SIMPLE
overcomplicated routines are just asking for trouble - keep it simple for effective, nurturing skincare. "Take a long, hard look at [your] beauty practices – paring [your] routine right back is key. Get rid of products with astringents, like alcohol and witch hazel. And avoid foaming cleansers,
2. PUT AWAY YOUR EXFOLIATING SKINCARE PRODUCTS & TOOLS
With the increase in popularity of products intended to remove surface dead skin cell build-up, many people are using exfoliating products on a daily basis. It’s important to know that this is one of the BIGGEST contributors to damaging your skin and barrier. When you exfoliate too often, you’re stripping off your skin’s protective barrier which guarantees that moisture will escape.
When you are trying to fix your barrier to get it back to a healthy place, I recommend stopping all of your exfoliating products for at least 2 weeks and then slowly work back into them once the skin feels repaired. When you do introduce them back into your routine, they should not be used daily, but instead, no more than 4 times a week.
3. LOOK OUT FOR THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS IN YOUR MOISTURIZER
One ingredient i always recommend my customers to look out for in their products to repair a damaged skin barrier is, Ceramides. They make up over 50% of the skin’s composition. Ceramids are lipids (fats) that occur naturally in skin.
Another great ingredient is Hyaluronic acid which like Ceramides, are skin-identical ingredients that can be found in our bodies. It boosts collagen production and retains skin moisture. It is calming and hydrating and did you know that one gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water? Thus, it is one of the best hydrating ingredients for all skin types.
Here's a list of beneficial ingredients to look out for in your moisturizer to repair a damaged barrier:
- Borage Oil
- Carrot Oil
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Cranberry Oil
- Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
- Linolenic Acid
- Tocopherol (vitamin E)
- Shea Butter
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Canola Oil
- Sesame Seed Oil
Some of these oils have a high comedogenic rating hence it isn't suitable for those with Acne-Prone skin types. To find out if your product contains any potential acne triggers, i always advice my customers to copy & paste the full ingredient list of their skincare products here: COSDNA INGREDIENT ANALYZER.
4. PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH SPF
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin’s barrier is by wearing a sunblock of minimum SPF30. It will help your skin against the sun’s damaging rays, it also adds protection from other environmental stressors. UVA rays are most commonly associated with skin aging; these beams cause fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots that make skin look prematurely older. Also, sunscreen on your face helps to keep your complexion even! Sun damage is one of the many causes of uneven skin tones and darkening of post acne marks.
For those with a damaged moisture barrier, opt for a Physical Sunblock over Chemical Sunscreen. Physical Sunblocks use mineral-based ingredients, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, to block UV rays.
5. AVOID PRODUCTS WITH FRAGRANCE & FRAGRANT OILS
I cannot begin to express how important to avoid Essential Oils & Fragrance when you are trying to repair your moisture barrier. Both Essential Oils and Fragrance wheter Natural or Synthetic have absolutely no benefits to your skin and can be extremely sensitizing especially for those who have a damaged skin barrier. Yes you heard it, despite essential oils being "natural", it still is a potential irritant for sensitive/senstized skin and i will advice you to avoid it especially when you are trying to repair your moisture barrier. Many companies claim to be "Fragrance-Free" however, what they refer to is being Free from Artificial Fragrance. When you look at their ingredient list, many still contain "natural fragrance ingredients" like limonene, citronellol, eugenol, and linalool.
All of the citrus oils, including lemon, lime, tangerine, grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot, are a big problem for all skin types. Also extremely problematic are mint oils such as peppermint, wintergreen, pennyroyal, and balm mint. In a similar vein, avoid camphor oil, which is a potent irritant.
Skin is very good at hiding when it’s being irritated. So, even if you don’t see a reaction, the damage is still occurring beneath skin’s surface, cumulatively leading to problems you will see later on. Irritation is pro-aging, the opposite of what most adults want from skincare.
Here are 2 different routines for 2 different skin types which i recommend! The products in the recommended skincare routine contains the beneficial ingredients you need to fix your damaged moisture barrier.
For Dehydrated-Oily Skin Type:
Essence for Dehydrated, Acne-Prone Skin:
Why we love it?
The secret is in the premium ingredients, including snail secretion filtrate, EGF and bee venom. Made out of 90% Snail Filtrate - this ingredient is excellent for those with Acne-Prone skin as it promotes wound healing, hydrates the skin, helps to smoothen and improve skin texture. It has a very nice light gel texture, spreads easily and gets absorbed very quickly into the skin. I personally have pretty dehydrated acne prone skin and i love doing the 7 skin method whenever i have the time and this product is one of my favourite essences to layer on my skin! My skin absolutely loves Snail Mucin and i even have a post all about it. Read it (here).
Why we love it?
Niacinamide is a vitamin B3 that has been proven to reduce pore size, help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and improve pigmentation. Most of the typical niacinamide serums come in a concentration of 2%, while this one from Purito is 5%! I absolutely love Niacinamide in my skincare products to reduce redness and calm any skin irritation. Read more about the benefits of Niacinamide (here). It also contains Galactomyces ferment filtrate is supposed to be excellent for anti-aging, softening, hydrating, and glow-begetting.
Moisturizer for Dehydrated, Acne-Prone Skin:
Why we love it?
I was surprised to see Ceramides in the ingredient list because most Ceramide creams feel a lot heavier! The Pyunkang Yul ATO range is formulated for those who have very sensitive skin hence it is free of irritants. This particular product is a light weight moisturizer that gets absorbed into the skin very quickly and is extremely hydrating. Definitely great for those who are acne prone looking to repair their severely dehydrated skin.
A solution for skin experiencing sore, angry clusters and raging redness, this contains Honeysuckle Flower extract and Artemisia annua extract. Further boosted by a revitalizing blend of Hyaluronic Acid and Green Tea extract, this is a formula you can trust to keep skin unbelievably soft and plump. Also, the ATO range is so gentle even BABIES can use it.
Check out the other Pyunkang Yul Products (here).
Why we love it?
I came across this brand recently and was absolutely impressed with the ingredient list of this and the Peptide Water Bomb Moisturizers! It is a light weight moisturizer that has a great ingredient list suitable for Acne-Prone skin. It is formulated without Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Phthalates, Silicone, Petroleum, Artificial Fragrance, Artificial Colours, Alcohol - not like all the ingredients are BAD but yeah this is really a very "clean" product in my books and the 2 Water Bomb creams deserve SO MUCH more awareness for its fantastic ingredient list.
Their Green Tea Water Bomb Moisture Cream is made with natural ingredients that provide intense, weightless hydration. This product contains no bad chemicals, natural ingredients, and iit’s an intense hydration bomb. Key ingredients include, of course: 3,000mg of green tea leaf extract (antioxidant, anti-acne, healing, anti-inflammatory, improves skin elasticity, anti-aging), baobab seed oil (nourishing, heals damaged skin, moisturizing, cleansing, boosts collagen production, anti-inflammatory, soothing, anti-aging) and zanthoxylum piperitum fruit extract (antioxidant, anti-aging, promotes cell regrowth, anti-wrinkle).
For Severely Dry Skin Types:
Essence/Serum for Dry Skin:
Why we love it?
This serum uses Coptis japonica root extract and olive oil to help rebalance skin's oil and moisture levels. The serum calms and soothes skin while providing hydration. Pyunkang Yul products are perfect for forming a base routine, because they are so calming and hydrating, on which you can add some of the fancier, trendier products.
Why we love it?
This product is composed of as much as 30% D-panthenol - best known for its ability to attract and retains moisture in skin. Panthenol also helps relieve inflamed acne and skin that has recently undergone clinical treatment, such as chemical peeling. It really helps soothe, moisturize and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier to create a healthier complexion. If you have a big event coming up, i highly recommend adding this ampoule into your routine for a boost!
Moisturizer for Very Dry Skin:
Why we love it?
Dr. Jart’s proprietary 5-Cera Complex (Ceramides) provides long-lasting moisture and improves the condition of an irritated skin barrier in extreme climates. For normal, dry and very dry skin experiencing dryness, itchiness, roughness and discomfort. I HIGHLY recommend this cream to those who are going using extremely harsh and drying topical products like Retin-A & Differin. For those who have tried or are using topical creams like Retin-A, you will know how irritating it is for your skin if you do not apply a good moisturizer. This moisturizer has made it on the top of a lot of Retin-A user's list of Holy Grail Products!
I understand not everyone wants to spend a bomb on skincare products, so i spent a lot of time looking for a well formulated dupe for this Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream and i found the COSRX Balancium Ceramide Cream! A lot of redditors have said this is a dupe to their holy grail cream and it is at a fraction of the price without any irritants. Unlike the Dr. Jart which has 5 different ceramides, the COSRX one has 1 form of ceramide but it is pretty effective!
Our skin takes 28-40 days to renew itself, so BE PATIENT. Stick to the routine diligently and you should have a much healthier skin barrier after the process. Only then can you reintroduce exfoliation and acids back into your routine to target skin concerns like Hyperpigmentation, Fine Lines, Acne and etc.