We all know that looking after our skin is important from an aesthetic point of view, but our skin also plays a vital physiological role. The skin is the body’s largest organ and is involved in maintaining moisture and preventing water loss, it protects the body from pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as helping to reduce the impact of environmental stressors such as UV radiation, pollution, and free radicals.
If the skin barrier is damaged or compromised, it can no longer perform its normal functions optimally. Recognising the signs of a damaged skin barrier is so important, as the earlier we can identify that the skin barrier has been compromised, the quicker we can work on repairing it. Red ness, dryness, irritation, inflammation, sensitivity, and dullness are some of the more common signs of a damaged skin barrier.
The good news is, there are ways to repair a compromised skin barrier and just because you have damaged your skin barrier once, it doesn’t mean you are more likely to damage it in the future.
What to do if you are experiencing signs of a compromised skin barrier?
- Simplify your skincare routine. Applying too many skincare products OR applying products incorrectly can cause irritation and inflammation to the skin.
- Even though a damaged skin barrier can result in dry and flaky skin, resist the urge to use coarse physical exfoliators or chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid. Rather, focus on using humectants like glycerin, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and fragrance-free moisturisers which can all help to add moisture to the skin and prevent further moisture loss.
- Go easy on active ingredients that can overstimulate the skin and IF used incorrectly can cause inflammation. Active ingredients such as retinoids applied at too high of a concentration, or applying AHAs and BHAs, like glycolic acid and salicylic acid, too frequently can irritate and compromise the skin barrier.
- Get enough sleep! Over my years as a pharmacist people are often surprised to hear that lack of adequate and restorative sleep can contribute to poor skin barrier function. There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep! When you sleep, your skin works to rebuild collagen and repair damage caused by UV exposure. If we aren’t getting enough sleep, it affects our skin’s ability to repair and function at its best.
- Treat dry skin debris and build up, which can leave the skin looking dull, with a skin renewal product with naturally derived ingredients that is gentle, yet effective enough, that it can be applied daily to keep your complexion looking fresh.
- Applying SPF every day is a non-negotiable, especially here in Australia where our UV index can get very high.
- Protect skin from pollution and free radical damage by using a product that imitates the skin’s barrier and limits the adhesion of fine particles to the surface of the skin. Ongoing stress, smoking and constant exposure to harsh weather (like wind, cooler temperatures) can also contribute to a damaged skin barrier.