Your skin has a natural protective layer that acts as a sheath, made up of what we call the skincare natural moisturizing factors, which include dermal lipids (fatty molecules), amino acids, and hyaluronic acid.
This protective layer is what we call the skincare moisture barrier. It’s what keeps irritants and harmful bacteria out, and retains moisture that lubricates your skin.
A good skincare routine should be all about preserving the integrity of your skincare moisture barrier while you treat your skin concerns, e.g. acne, redness, dull skin, etc.
Also, many skin concerns that make you pay a visit to the dermatologist’s office can be treated by fixing a compromised skincare barrier, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, and sometimes even acne! In short: a happy, healthy, intact barrier translates to happy and healthy skin.
Being a skincare junkie with relatively unproblematic, tolerant skin, I’m constantly trying new products and am always on the hunt for the next-best thing.
While my skin can generally tolerate any ingredient you throw at it, I finally discovered my limit when I made the rookie mistake of introducing both pure vitamin C and retinol into my routine at the same time — not to mention in the dead of winter! Once a crop of flaking, irritated patches appeared on my cheeks overnight, I knew I needed to do some serious damage control.
Here is the skincare routine that helped bring my moisture barrier back to life.
Step 1: Take a break from exfoliation
There’s no denying that regular exfoliation is key to keeping your skincare looking its best. It keeps our pores unclogged, prevents breakouts, and reveals glowing skin. However, going overboard and exfoliating more than you need to is a surefire way to destroy your moisture barrier.
If you’re focusing on barrier repair, take a break from exfoliating until your skin is healed again. And when you do start easing yourself back into it, limit your use of exfoliating products to only 2-3 times per week.
Step 2: Use sunscreen every day
This one is an absolute must! Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin aging, and prolonged exposure can cause severe sunburn, resulting in inflamed, irritated, and sensitized skin. Use sunscreen every day, religiously, even if you’re indoors, because windows don’t block UV rays. Pick a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers an SPF of at least 30. Re-apply every two hours that you’re outdoors.
Step 3: Use ingredients that will repair a damaged moisture barrier
I tried so many different kinds of products, slathered on “hydrating” creams that never seemed to actually work–used as many powerful anti-acne products that I could–AHA’s BHA’s, toner pads, witch hazel, rubbed my face raw with exfoliating scrubs trying to eliminate the flakiness–literally nothing worked.
Ask Neal–I’ve been known to break into sobbing fits over my skin. It sounds so vain–but there is no crappier feeling than looking in the mirror and being self-conscious about your skin. Frequently dipping into the bathroom at a party to touch up your makeup to try and cover it up.
Step 4: AVOID PRODUCTS WITH FRAGRANCE & FRAGRANT OILS
I cannot begin to express how important to avoid Essential Oils & Fragrance when you are trying to repair your moisture barrier. Both Essential Oils and Fragrance whether Natural or Synthetic have absolutely no benefits to your skin and can be extremely sensitizing especially for those who have a damaged skin barrier.
Yes you heard it, despite essential oils being “natural”, it still is a potential irritant for sensitive/sensitized skin and i will advise you to avoid it especially when you are trying to repair your moisture barrier.
Many companies claim to be “Fragrance-Free” however, what they refer to is being Free from Artificial Fragrance. When you look at their ingredient list, many still contain “natural fragrance ingredients” like lemonade, Citronellol, eugenol, and linalool.