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The secret to healthy Skin? Protect your Skin Barrier!

The secret to healthy Skin? Protect your Skin Barrier!

If you're reading this blog, chances are you've at least heard of the skin barrier. Still, there's a world of difference between knowing it exists and knowing why it's so important and how to keep it in prime condition. In this article, we're going to tell you a bit about what makes up the skin barrier, how it keeps you healthy and looking your best, and what you can do to protect it and help it recover when it becomes compromised.

What exactly is the skin barrier?

First off, it's important to know that the skin biome and the skin barrier are different. The skin biome is a protective network of bacteria that resides just atop the skin. Think of it as protection for protection – kind of like a bulletproof vest on a security guard. The skin biome communicates with your immune system, helping to relay messages as to skin function regulation and sounding alarms when action needs to be taken. 

Photo by Angela Roma from Pexels

The skin barrier consists of the two very outermost levels of your skin. The sebum barrier (acid mantle) is on the outside. This layer consists of a fine coating of sebum and sweat with a slightly acidic composition. It helps to ward off bacteria, fungi, and viral agents. The layer just beneath is called the stratum corneum. It's built much like a brick wall, with the bricks consisting of sturdy skin cells called corneocytes. They contain keratin and natural moisturizers. These bricks are held together by the mortar-like lipids that surround them. The lipids help keep things moist and are made up of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol.

Why is the skin barrier vital to skin and overall body health?

Now that you know the skin barrier, the next step is to learn why it matters. We included a bit of a spoiler before by mentioning that it acts as a protective mechanism. To leave it there would be a dangerous understatement, though. The skin barrier is your body's first line of defense against harmful elements such as pollution, allergens, free radicals, and other environmental aggressors. In addition to this, it also prevents the moisture within your body from escaping via dehydration. That's a big deal since 60% of the human body is made up of water. The skin barrier also helps skin to stay smooth, clear, youthful, and resiliently elastic. 

Hydration is imperative to keep the skin barrier healthy. When it becomes dehydrated, the sebaceous glands will produce higher volumes of oil. In many cases, this will overwhelm your pores, causing them to swell up and clog. That opens the door for dead skin and sebum to become trapped, resulting in inflammatory responses in and around the pores. The result? Acne breakouts. 

How do I protect my skin barrier?

There are many things we can do to keep our skin barriers in top condition. One of the most critical factors is vigilance. In other words, you want to look for signs of damage on a very regular basis to help stop problems before they get too severe and prevent them from occurring in the first place. When skin is dull, itchy, unusually tight, swollen, flaky/peeling, extra sensitive, rough, showing sun damage, breaking out, or suddenly displaying fine lines, there's a good chance that the skin barrier has been compromised. Other red flags are the worsening of acne, rosacea, and eczema. Checking for these things is very important, especially as we age. People with light skin tones tend to have thinner skin barriers, which puts them at greater risk of encountering issues. Those with genetic skin conditions such as psoriasis and a topic dermatitis should also take extra precautions. Several things can be done (and avoided) to stop problems from developing. One of the most important is to avoid engaging in harmful actions during your skincare routines. Using overly harsh soaps and detergents, especially those that are highly alkaline, can throw off the pH level of the skin barrier and, as a result, weaken it. The natural pH is around 5.7, so you'll want to look for skincare products with a pH level in that ballpark. Fortunately, many products specify that they help maintain and restore your skin barrier's natural pH level. These are the ones you'll want to invest in. You'll also want to use lukewarm water. Water that is too hot or too cold can be harmful, as can spending too much time in environments that are extreme in temperature. It's essential to build a tolerance to elements such as retinoids and Vitamin C. Start with gentle products and work your way up. If your skin is burning after treatment, that's a warning sign that you're being exposed to chemicals that your skin barrier isn't quite ready to take on. Rough scrubs and over-exfoliation should also be avoided. As we mentioned in our skinimalism article, keeping routines simple is key to excellent skin health. Try to avoid using too many products and incorporating too many steps into your skincare regimen. Also, you don't want to overdo it on products containing retinoids and AHAs. If your skincare routine involves multiple steps, consider breaking it up. For example, you can exfoliate in the morning and moisturize in the evening. Lifestyle choices are also a factor. Too much exposure to hot or cold temperatures, air pollution, sun, and wind can all be harmful. If spending time in the sun, be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30. Here are a few things you'll want to avoid if you want to maintain a healthy skin barrier:

  • Smoking
  • Overeating red meat 
  • Eating processed foods
  • Steroid usage
  • Consuming too much alcohol 
  • Consuming too much caffeine 
  • Being under excessive stress
  • Taking in too much blue light from smartphones and other mobile devices 

Even when the skin barrier has been damaged, there's ample opportunity for reversal. Using products that fortify the skin barrier is vital regardless of whether the barrier has been compromised. You'll want to look for products that contain hyaluronic acid, vitamin B3 (niacinamide), cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides. Such elements help with water absorption and your skin barrier to lock in moisture. As previously mentioned, it's vital to look for products that preserve natural pH levels. Health issues such as diabetes and incontinence can cause changes to your pH level, so it's essential to speak with your dermatologist to know just the proper levels to shoot for. 

Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are also desirable ingredients in skincare products that seek to treat barrier issues. Another preventive and restorative action is to use plant oils in your skincare. Whether included in lotions/creams or massaged gently into the skin on their own, oils from nuts, fruits, seeds, coconuts, sunflowers, and many other plants can promote skin barrier health. Please be aware that healing doesn't happen overnight. It takes roughly a month of TLC to restore your skin barrier to good health after trouble arises. 

Keep your skin barrier in optimum condition with help from Amazonian Skinfood.

We opt for natural formulas that are 100% safe for your skin barrier, using neither carcinogenic nor endocrine-disrupting chemicals. We also avoid skin care solutions based on synthetic ingredients or essential oil blends. Instead, our products are formulated with raw cold-pressed organic oils and butters from the most nutrient-rich plants on the planet. 

Our Superfruit Facial oil is a plant-based Retinol Alternative  to traditional Retinol, which can leave your skin red, irritated, sensitive to the sun, and at high risk of barrier damage. Our Superfruit Facial Oil mimics the benefits of Retinol without these adverse side effects. 

The idea behind our products is to bring both deep nourishment to your skin and an outer layer of protection against free radicals, pollution, and other impurities. That's why we recommend always using our Sacha Inchi Face Cream first, followed by the Superfruit Oil to lock the actives and protect your skin for the day.