The skin barrier is the skin's outermost surface consisting of epidermal cells, lipids, and natural moisturizing factors. The skin barrier is often described as a brick wall. “Bricks” are corneocytes (cells of the stratum corneum). They are connected with the intercellular "cement" composed of lipids. The lipids of the skin's hydrolipidic barrier are mainly ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids.
Role of the skin barrier
The hydrolipidic barrier (coat) of the epidermis has several functions. First, it creates an occlusive barrier that prevents water loss from the epidermis and provides an adequate hydration level. It also protects the skin from external factors (such as wind, temperature, air pollution). Additionally, the hydrolipidic coat maintains skin elasticity and ensures its healthy and radiant appearance.
A significant role of the epidermal barrier is also the regulation of the skin’s pH. With a properly functioning barrier, the pH is slightly acidic. The imbalance of the epidermis’ pH leads to disturbances in the composition of the intercellular cement. Moreover, each damage to the epidermal barrier may cause pH deviations and lead to bacterial or fungal infections.
Finally, a healthy hydrolipidic barrier supports the transport of active ingredients of cosmetic products.
Symptoms of a damaged skin barrier
When the hydrolipidic barrier is damaged, the skin becomes more susceptible to bacteria, viruses, toxins, and environmental factors such as UV radiation, air pollution, strong wind, and temperature fluctuations.
Damage to the epidermal coat manifests itself with dryness and redness of the skin. There is a loss of water and nutrients from the epidermal layer, which leads to allergies, irritations, and accelerated skin aging. In addition, it can cause overproduction of sebum and consequently leads to the aggravation of acne.
Causes for a damaged skin barrier
There are many reasons for the damage to the epidermal barrier. The most common cause is too intense and frequent skin cleansing. It leads to the removal of natural lipids constituting the epidermal barrier. The reason may be the use of strong skin cleansing products and high alkaline pH (e.g., soaps, products containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate).
Ignoring sunscreen use is also a common cause of harm to the skin barrier. UV rays damage the lipids of the hydrolipidic coat.
The condition of the epidermal barrier is also influenced by frequent skin exfoliation and the use of mechanical peels. Too often repeated or incorrectly performed dermatological treatments also can affect the condition of the skin barrier. Furthermore, the ethyl alcohol in some cosmetic products (e.g., tonics) destroys the hydrolipidic coat.
Extreme temperatures, climate changes, air pollution, strong wind, seawater, and chlorinealso damage the epidermal barrier.
Ways to rebuild the skin barrier
The basis for rebuilding the skin barrier is gentle skin cleansing. Washing products should contain mild purifying agents and have a slightly acidic pH. Tomorrowlabs FOAM CLEANSER and SENSITIVE FACE WASH remove dirt, grease and makeup without drying out, causing irritation or removing natural oils from the skin. Additionally, thanks to unique formulation with nourishing active ingredients, they support epidermal barrier renewal.
It is worth using cosmetics that will naturally create a hydrolipidic coat. These include products containing ceramides, squalene, plant oils rich in omega-6 (e.g., Oenothera Biennis Seed Oil, Borago Officinalis Seed, Ribes Nigrum Seed Oil) and hyaluronic acid. Products that contain allantoin, aloe vera, dexpanthenol or zinc, such as HYDRAGEL MOISTURIZER, provide the skin with long-lasting moisture and soothe irritated skin. Tomorrowlabs REPAIR STIMULANT with active ingredients, such as panthenol, vitamin E, and marigold extract promotes the regeneration of irritated skin and support the skin barrier renewal. Ideal for a very damaged skin barrier.
It is also essential to use sunscreen every day, which protects against the destruction of the skin barrier caused by UV radiation. The integrated sun protection factor in The Day Catalyst protects skin against harmful UV rays. In addition, it reactivates the cellular regenerative mechanism and ensures an intensive moisturizing effect.
Moreover, supplementing the diet with products rich in omega 3-6-9 unsaturated fatty acids is also very helpful in rebuilding the skin barrier. HSF Skin Capsules not only contain omega-3 fatty acids necessary for a hydrolipidic barrier, but also collagen, vitamins and plant extract irreplaceable in maintaining healthy skin.
The hydrolipidic barrier is a basis for healthy, luminous, and youthful-looking skin. Its condition is influenced by many factors such as skincare, external environment, and lifestyle. Proper and conscious skincare should focus on taking care of the skin barrier in the first place. It is a foundation for beautiful and healthy skin.