How to Protect your Skin Barrier

Your skin barrier, also known as the epidermis, is the outermost layer of your skin.  A healthy skin barrier protects from external stressors, like UV radiation and pollution, retains water to keep the body and skin hydrated, and transports vital nutrients to your skin.  This also aids in maintaining homeostasis in the body, ensuring that all major systems are working in harmony.  A healthy skin barrier will boast even, hydrated and elastic looking skin.  On the flip side, if your skin barrier is not functioning properly, you can be vulnerable to damage in the form of free radicals, dehydration, and environmental stressors.  Since our skin barrier is so vital for our health, what can we do to protect it?

Wear Sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen above SPF 30 will help to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.  High exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to cell damage, photo aging and potentially skin cancer.  High sun exposure also leads to the breakdown of collagen in the skin which is responsible for young, supple looking skin.  Sunscreen should even be worn in cloudy conditions because the UV radiation can bounce off surfaces and still damage your skin.  

Keep Your Skin Hydrated

To keep your skin hydrated, you need to ensure you are adequately moisturizing your skin and drinking plenty of water.  Aim to use a moisturizer that includes barrier-supporting emollients, humectants, and occlusives plus ceramides and niacinamide.  You also want to look for products that include ingredients that mimic the natural lipids of the skin.  Less is more with skin care to maintain a healthy skin barrier.  You want to avoid bombarding your skin with too many products because it could potentially irritate the skin.  

Balance your pH

Our skin is best when slightly acidic at a 5.5 pH.  Any large fluctuation either way in the pH of the skin can throw the skin's ecosystem off resulting in irritation and inflammation.  Since classic soaps are very alkaline, you should steer clean since they will strip your skin of helpful, natural oils.