How to Repair or Protect your Barrier
Your skin has a lot of jobs, and all of them are very important. One of it's functions is protection from environmental hazards. The uppermost layer of your skin in charge of this and it's covered by and oil and water mixture called your barrier function. If it's compromised you may think you have or present as having sensitive or acneic skin when really the balance of lipids and water on your skin are just out of whack. Those with lighter skin tones are more prone to a weak barrier and aging also thins the barrier.
A compromised barrier can make your skin irritated, dry, flaky, red, and prone to rashes and acne. Generally, this occurs more easily because your skin is not effectively protecting against pollution, UV rays, and toxins. The skin care you use can sting or cause reactions. This inflammation may cause eczema or other skin issues. So how can you you prevent, repair, or improve a compromised barrier?
1. Look at your face wash ingredients. If your not using professional products (and I really hope you are) read the ingredients list of your current face care products. Sulfates, alcohols, and benzoyl peroxide (unless it's medical grade and especially while your barrier is compromised) will strip away your natural moisturizers and throw off your PH. Sad face.
2. Watch what your scrubbing your face with. Treat your face kindly. Don't scrub with a washcloth, brush, or scrubs with harsh exfolliants (like shells!, AHH!). Treat your face very gently.
3. Wash your face with tepid, not hot, water. Hot water or even very warm water is too harsh for your skin.
4. Add in linoleic acid (found in safflower oil and many pro products), antioxidants (also found in many professional products) as well as vitamin E and green tea which helps protect the skin from free radicals in the environment, and add products with niacinamide which will help to build your ceramide production.
5. Avoid products with fragrances. Many over the counter washes and moisturizers list fragrance on their list of ingredients. These can be any number of things and cosmetics are not regulated, but fragrance can be very irritating.
6. Don't Stress! This does take a toll on every part of your body including your skin. Get some of whatever makes you stress less in your life. Exercise, yoga, meditate, massage, journal, spend time with people that fill your cup. Make sure you are doing what it takes to get your chill on.
7. SPF! This goes for every person, but you especially need to protect your skin if you have a compromised barrier. Some people with sensitive skin avoid SPF because it stings or causes reactions. Here is a great list of SPF just for you.
8. Try some supplements (check with your doctor before taking any supplements of course). Oral ceremides, Omegas and essential fatty acids are great supplements for hydrating the skin.
9. Hydrate! Water is the key to everything and nobody is getting enough of it. When you think you're getting enough, you probably aren't, You can use calculations to find out how many ounces or you can just listen to your body and keep drinking water all day. Factors like climate and activity level mean you need more water sometimes too!
10. See a licensed esthetician. This is obviously a suggestion I'm going to give, but we are licensed and very educated in just the issue you're having trouble with. We can help bring your barrier back to normal. It may take a few appointments, and some adjustment to your home care, but together we can fix your skin!