First of all, we need to understand the function of your Skin Barrier. Skin Barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that makes a good job in creating a barrier or protection from harmful bacteria, pollutants, UV Rays, Change in Temperature and other environmental irritants that your skin do not need! It is otherwise known as your Stratum Corneum, some call it as Acid Mantle, Moisture Barrier etc. Your Skin Barrier is made of dead skin cells embedded in lipids.
These lipids (composed of concentration of free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides) work to trap bad substances to enter deep into your skin. It also make sure no water is lost from your Stratum Corneum (called Transepidermal Water Loss) so that the moisture, firmness and softness of your skin is maintained.
Your Skin Barrier is actually a strong layer, but it can also be weakened and thrown out of balance, depending on how the skin is exposed to environmental irritants, harmful substances and your skincare habits. Exposing it to too much sun, hot water when washing face, hot steams and dry heat, strong wind, bitter cold, harsh cleansers can all lead to a compromised Skin Barrier! And, if you love exfoliating, then you must have been once a victim of damaged Skin Barrier - that is, of course IF you were not so careful! (PS. Aging also decreases your lipid production making your Skin Barrier weak. So beware once your reach age of 40!)
Exfoliating is one of the most awarding and satisfying step in achieving a smooth, youthful and glowy skin, which makes it also so addicting, so that, you always want to grab your scrubs or acids as much as possible. But STOP! When you do this, you’re stripping off too much of your dead skin cells and natural lipids which your skin need to maintain a healthy skin. An Exfoliator is your best friend but it could also turn to be your harsh enemy, if you are not so careful.
You know that you Skin Barrier is out of balance if you have the following signs and symptoms:
- Skin tightness even after you apply your skincare products
- Redness and itchiness on certain parts of your face
- Dry and or flaky skin
- Skin looks thin and shiny
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Burning feeling when skin care product is applied to skin
- Skin breaks out more often
- Skin is oilier (compensating for the lost of moisture)
It is very important to assess your skin frequently, so that you know how to control the use of your exfoliators and switch your moisturizing products.
Here are some tips on improving your compromised Skin Barrier caused by too much exfoliation
- Step back from your acids/scrubs. Reduce the frequency of usage. If you have all the above symptoms, please avoid all forms of exfoliation right away! Let your skin rest for few weeks.
- If you think your cleanser is also stripping your normal oils, switch to a low pH Cleanser.
Recommended Product: SU:M 37 Miracle Cleansing Stick: a luxury cleanser that is mild, low pH, but potent in removing dirt and makeup residues without stripping your oils.
- Layer your skincare with loads of humectants to compensate for the lost of water through applying toners, essences, mists, sheetmasks and serums
Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner Deep Rich: contains fermented and organic natural ingredients that will infuse your skin with lots of moisture
COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Hydra Power Essence: containing Hyaluronic Acid which will fill your skin layers moisture and retain hydration longer
Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Mist Moist: the most convenient way to get moisturized the whole day is to bring this hydrating mist anywhere you go and use it anytime of the day!
- Jump to moisturizing creams that would strengthen your damaged skin barrier, heal it back to normal state, and keep the moisture balance optimal to your skin. Remember that moisturizing creams are very important in your skincare routine. Never ever miss one! They are great for locking moisture into your skin. They trap the good stuff of your toners, essences, serums and sheetmasks to not evaporate.
Look for the following ingredients:
Ceramide – since the amount of ceramide on people with damaged skin barrier is diminished, it needs to be replaced ASAP! This is an important ingredient to strengthen your skin barrier, so make sure your moisturizer contains ceramide.
Recommended product: Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
Fillagrin – is not so popular skin care product ingredient, but it is actually one of the key components that controls water loss through the Strateum Corneum. This protein is found in our epidermis as early as 3 months of age. Deficiency of Fillagrin causes dry and damaged skin care barrier like that of dermatitis.
Recommended product: Dr G Barrier Activator Cream: Personally curated this product for more than a month. Exclusively formulated for oily and sensitive skin!
- Wear your Sunscreens everyday! Whether it’s cloudy or rainy!
Recommended product: A'pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream Daily - great for dry skin and oily to normal skin during the cold months
Restoring your damaged skin barrier needs a lot of patience and finding the right products that your skin would love is sometimes tough. But once you learn to assess your skin frequently and adapt your skincare routine according to your skin needs, you’ll see a great difference. No wonder why Korean women own plenty of skincare products, which they readily switch back and forth.
Wish you good skin health and don't forget to moisturize!