Your skin barrier is the protective layer that defends your skin from external aggressors (like pollution and bacteria) and prevents your skin from losing moisture. The more irritated and damaged skin is, the less effective the skin barrier will be, so when it’s damaged and not functioning at its best, skin suffers even more. Hydration escapes, irritants get in, and this causes dullness, dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation.
Skin with a normal healthy barrier will be smooth, calm, and even-toned, with no redness or inflammation. Skin with a damaged barrier appears and feels sore and irritated, you may experience an excess of breakouts and congestion or signs of extreme dryness like flakiness and redness. Products like barrier creams and healing serums will help to support and strengthen your skin barrier – they’ll be packed with ingredients like ceramides, squalane, niacinamide and more.
Scroll down to meet the best ingredients for a damaged skin barrier.
If you think of your skin as a brick wall, ceramides are the cement between the bricks that hold your cells together. They’re lipids (fats) which strengthen skin by reinforcing its layers and keping the skin barrier intact, helping to prevent moisture from escaping.
Squalane is a derivative of an ingredient called squalene which is naturally found in the skin (although our supplies reduce as we age). It’s essential for keeping skin nourished and protected as it locks moisture into the skin. It’s also light in texture and unlike many oils, won’t clog pores.
Niacinamide is a real multitasker which is known for its benefits for breakout-prone skin and pigmentation. It’s beneficial for the skin barrier because it increases ceramide production, helping to strengthen the skin structure and aid better water retention.
Omega fatty acids are beneficial for skin both when they’re taken orally and applied topically to skin. They work to reinforce and smooth the skin’s surface, improve hydration, and reduce signs of dryness and dehydration like flakiness and sensitivity.
Sun exposure is one of the main causes of a damaged skin barrier because UV rays are the number one external aggressor for skin. By protecting skin from UV damage, SPF protects skin from harmful free radicals which damage skin cells.
6. Hyaluronic acid
Keeping your skin well moisturised is essential for a healthy skin barrier. Hyaluronic acid works by drawing moisture deep into your skin (each molecule holds 1000 times its weight in water) so it’s a great ingredient to layer into the middle of your skincare routine.
7. Colloidal oatmeal
When the skin barrier is damaged, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) occurs. This is when wter evaporates from the skin, and leads to dehydration. To prevent TEWL, it’s important to seal moisture into the skin. Colloidal oatmeal binds to the skin and locks in the moisture, preventing your skin from dehydrating.
Probiotics and prebiotics help to balance out the skin’s pH and keep the microbiome (part of the skin barrier) healthy. This results in skin that is healthy and balanced, and unlikely to experience inflammation.
FYI: This article was previously published at an earlier date and has since been updated.