How to Repair Your Skin Barrier

How to Repair Your Skin Barrier

 

The skin barrier is a vital component of our skin's health, serving as a protective shield that maintains moisture, blocks absorption of chemicals, and protects from irritation and inflammation. In this blog post, I'll discuss what the skin barrier is, what damages it, and how to repair and strengthen it using a targeted skin barrier repair routine.

What is the Skin Barrier?

The skin barrier is composed of three primary elements:

  1. Corneocytes: These are the dead skin cells in the top layer of your skin. They act as building blocks for the skin barrier.
  2. Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF): These are a combination of ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids, and filaggrin that hold the corneocytes together. They are crucial for retaining moisture and maintaining skin barrier function.
  3. Skin Biome: A delicate balance of microorganisms living symbiotically on our skin. This skin biome helps regulate the skin’s pH, which ideally should be around 5.5, forming an acid mantle that protects against harmful elements.

Signs of a Damaged Skin Barrier

A compromised skin barrier can lead to several symptoms, such as:

  • Increased dryness and flakiness
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Sensitivity and irritation
  • Breakouts and acne
  • A feeling of tightness or discomfort

If you notice these signs of a damaged skin barrier, it’s crucial to take steps to repair your damaged skin barrier effectively.

What Damages the Skin Barrier?

Several factors can disrupt and damage the skin barrier:

  • Overwashing: Excessive washing strips the skin of its natural oils, increasing its pH and disrupting the skin biome. 
  • Over-exfoliation: Manual exfoliation can damage the corneocytes and NMF, weakening the barrier. 
  • Harsh Skincare Products: Ingredients like alcohol, high concentrations of acids, and certain fragrances can irritate the skin and impair its protective function.

These changes in the microenvironment of the skin barrier lead to NMF working less well and it becomes harder for the good microbes to live, leading to the skin shield becoming less protective and increasing the risk of absorption of chemicals through the skin causing irritation and inflammation. 

To stop this cycle, you have to be selective in what you are doing with your skin. People often make the mistake that their skin needs more, furthering the irritation.  Always remember, less is more when it comes to rebuilding your skin barrier. 

How to Repair Your Skin Barrier

When your skin barrier is damaged and your skin is inflamed, a minimalist, gentle and supportive skincare routine is essential to returning your skin to optimal health. 

Here’s how to restore your skin barrier effectively:

Morning Routine
  1. Rinse with Lukewarm Water: Avoid hot water and cleanser, which can strip the skin of its natural oils.
  2. Apply a Thick, Hypoallergenic Moisturizer: Look for a skin barrier cream, like Doctor Rogers Face Cream, with ingredients that nourish and calm the skin, such as squalane, shea butter, niacinamide, or centella asiatica
  3. Use a Mineral Sunscreen: Opt for sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are gentle on sensitive skin.

Skip treatment steps like Vitamin C serums or even pure niacinamide that can be irritating to the skin in higher concentrations (over 10%.) If you need to shave, use fragrance-free shaving cream and follow again with a thick hypoallergenic moisturizer, skip aftershave, toner or even cologne.

Evening Routine
  1. Gentle Cleansing: Use a pH-balanced cleanser (less than 6) to wash your face like Doctor Rogers Face Wash. Avoid scrubbing or using exfoliating tools.
  2. Apply a Thick Hypoallergenic Moisturizer: Again, use a nourishing moisturizer to support skin repair.
  3. Seal with an Ointment: If your skin is particularly irritated, apply a hypoallergenic ointment, like Restore Healing Balm, over your moisturizer to lock in hydration overnight.

Remember to avoid scrubbing, exfoliating, and any cell turnover treatments like retinols, AHA or bakuchiol.

Additional Tips
  • Avoid Active Treatments: Skip products with high concentrations of actives like Vitamin C, retinols, and AHAs until your skin barrier is fully healed.
  • Oral Probiotics: These can help restore healthy skin flora. Choose probiotics specifically formulated for skin health. My favorite are Hum Skin Squad.

Best Ingredients for Skin Barrier Repair

When selecting products to repair your skin barrier, look for ingredients that support and strengthen the skin:

  • Squalane: Hydrates and protects the skin.
  • Shea Butter: Provides deep moisture and soothing benefits.
  • Niacinamide: Reduces inflammation and supports barrier repair.
  • Centella Asiatica: Known for its healing properties and ability to calm irritated skin.

Doctor Rogers Face Lotion and Face Cream contain all of the above ingredients, are formulated for sensitive skin and are incredibly effective. 

Conclusion

Repairing a damaged skin barrier requires patience and a gentle approach. By simplifying your skincare routine and using products that support the natural healing process, you can restore your skin’s health and resilience. Remember, less is more when it comes to rebuilding your skin barrier. Give your skin the time and tools it needs to heal itself, and soon you'll notice a significant improvement in its appearance and function.

For those struggling with skin barrier issues, following these steps can lead to healthier, more resilient skin. If you’re experiencing persistent problems, consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance and support.

By understanding how to repair a damaged skin barrier and knowing the signs of a damaged skin barrier, you can better care for your skin. Remember, a well-maintained skin barrier is key to healthy, radiant skin.

 

These recommendations are not sponsored. They are the result of Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD evidence-based research and extensive clinical experience. 

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