If you’re frustrated by constant skin problems, it may be your skin barrier to blame. It’s the answer to (almost) all of our skin woes; excessive dryness, breaking out from every new beauty product, or turning tomato-red post face mask. When it’s working, the skin barrier is our greatest defense, keeping out harmful bacteria and pathogens and keeping in moisture and antioxidants, but when it’s not, it’s our greatest hindrance.
So, how do you know when it’s not working and how to fix it?
Well, that’s why we’re here. Learn how to support the repair process of your skin barrier, and how to know if yours needs repairing in the first place right here. Go on, let us help you solve all your skin problems.
We are all on a mission together: support the repair process of your skin barrier. REN Clean Skincare products help strengthen the skin barrier by supporting a balanced microbiome.
What Is The Skin Barrier?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin. This layer, called the stratum corneum, is made up of skin cells bound together by a lipid matrix of cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides. These lipids create a strong barrier between the inner layers of your skin and the environment.
The skin barrier’s function is critical to keeping allergens, environmental pollutants, bacteria, and more out and keeping moisture in so your skin can function healthily and look healthy too. In fact, the skin’s moisture barrier is the biggest factor in the skin’s appearance. For this reason, it’s pretty easy to tell if your skin barrier has been disrupted...
How To Tell If Your Skin Barrier is Damaged
Many of us describe our skin as “sensitive”, and while it’s true that some of us have more sensitive skin than others, it’s more likely that our skin may just be overly sensitized due to a damaged skin barrier.
Damage to the skin barrier can cause decreased hydration and increased irritation, and thus redness, blemishes, and dryness. A damaged skin barrier can present itself in any of these ways, as well as a sudden rash, rough feel, dull appearance, or flaky patches. It can happen quickly, too. A week of harsh winter weather or one use of an aggravating product can compromise your skin barrier and cause dry skin, leaving it weak and in need of repair.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been blaming “sensitive skin” for your problems, a compromised skin barrier could be a better answer. But the good news is, you don’t have to live with it forever.
Defense against threats to the skin barrier is always important, and there are ways to protect your skin barrier that will benefit everyone. However, if your skin barrier is already experiencing damage, you will need to play offense and take extra measures to repair it. And, yes, you can repair it!
7 Ways to Help Support Your Skin Barrier Repair Process
If that’s you, these steps will show you how to support your skin barrier repairing process and experience visibly healthier skin once again, or for what may feel like the first time. With proper care, you can not only support the skin barrier repair process, but also prevent it from becoming damaged in the future. Kiss dry, flaky patches, dehydrated skin or constant breakouts goodbye. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
1. Apply The Right Ingredients
The key to supporting your skin barrier repair process is supplying it with the ingredients that it’s made up of and supporting hydration levels.
What your skin needs:
Antioxidants, which help protect the skin by fighting free radicals.
Ceramide boosting ingredients such as Niacinamide, which improves skin barrier function.
Fatty acids, the building blocks of your barrier
A great place to start is with an antioxidant-rich day and night cream such as V-Cense™ Youth Vitality Day Cream and V-Cense™ Revitalising Night Cream, which will not only hydrate the skin but provide a whole host of benefits such as a rejuvenated complexion, relaxed senses, and protection from environmental damage. These moisturizer creams also contain wheat germ, which is rich in ceramides.
Reap the benefits of ultra-nourishing fatty acids from Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm, which includes enzymatically activated oils of olive, almond, borage, and linseed that feed the skin barrier and provide intense nourishment. When you use products in your skincare routine with fatty acids such as these, you are essentially giving your skin the building blocks it needs to mend the skin barrier.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, and Hydrate
When your skin barrier is compromised, your skin struggles to retain moisture, so it’s essential to supply as much moisture as possible. When choosing the right hydrating products for your skin, look for ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which are humectants, as well as nourishing oils and lipids.
Hydrating your skin can be a multi-step process. First, apply a product featuring a humectant, which will actually help your skin cells retain water. Then, apply a thicker cream featuring oils and/or lipids to lock in the moisture.
Vita Mineral™ Emollient Rescue Cream covers both of these steps in one. It’s formulated with glycerin and squalane, a naturally occurring lipid, as well as cranberry seed oil and lingonberry seed oil, which are good sources of omega 3 (a fatty acid), to support the reparation of the skin barrier, and lessen the chance of moisture loss. This hydrating cream is a must-have in anyone’s skincare cabinet, but especially for anyone struggling with a damaged skin barrier.
3. Be Gentle
Remember that a damaged skin barrier is extra prone to irritation. Products that may not normally cause redness or flaky patches for you could when your skin barrier is in this fragile state. While we love the anti-aging and blemish-fighting benefits of some powerful ingredients, they aren’t our friends when battling a broken skin barrier. Ditch the hard-hitters (for now).
Stick to gentle formulas instead that will give your skin space by providing ingredients that soothes and helps reduce redness.
Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask will help instantly alleviate these key signs of sensitized skin. Formulated with REN's exclusive active complex, it strengthens the skin's protective moisture barrier to aid recovery and increase your skin's ability to cope with stress. Use it up to 3 times a week when your skin needs repair and whenever you’re battling about irritation or dryness.
4. Avoid Scrubbing
The way you apply or remove your products also affects your skin barrier. Any cleanser applied or mask removed with a rough sponge or washcloth can be harsh on the skin. Simply wash and rinse your face with your hands and lukewarm water and dab dry to avoid causing any tears that could further damage the skin barrier.
A gentle cleanser such as Evercalm™ Gentle Cleansing Milk will leave skin calm, clean, and hydrated. No scrubbing necessary.
5. Minimize Stress
Yes, stress affects more than our minds, it affects our entire body, including our skin. Stress can slow down the process of repairing your skin barrier, so if you’re serious about getting it back to tip-top shape, you need to be serious about minimizing stress (4). Ease stress with daily practices such as meditation, exercise, journaling, rest, or whatever works for you. Your skincare routine can even help with stress; the Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask we mentioned above increases the skin's ability to cope with stress, diminishing its effects.
6. Look At Your Diet
While you may not see immediate results, a healthy diet will, over time, benefit your skin greatly. Focus on eating more omega-rich foods such as salmon, almonds, and walnuts (2). Some foods such as eggs, brown rice, and dairy are also beneficial to your skin-healthy diet as they are rich in ceramides. A healthy diet rich in these foods can truly transform your skin from the inside out.
7. Protect Your Recovery
While you’re doing all this hard work to support your skin barrier’s natural repair process, you’ll want to do everything to protect your progress by keeping any additional damage from occurring. One of the biggest causes of skin barrier damage is sun exposure. Block those harmful UVA and UVB rays by using a broad-spectrum SPF every single day.
A daily formula should provide enough coverage (SPF 30 or greater), and go on easy. Our Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen is just as it sounds: a clean formula with SPF 30 protection that actually mattifies, so you don’t have to worry about it messing with your makeup or giving you a glossy sheen. Rub it into your skin at the end of your skincare routine (after all your antioxidant-rich and fatty acid-filled products) as the final step to support your skin barrier repair process and avoid future damage. See our blog for more educational and informational info on SPF skincare for beginners.
Keep Up The Fight
Supporting your skin barrier repair process doesn’t guarantee it won’t become damaged again, so it’s important to keep up these practices even once your skin seems well-balanced again. They will not only support the skin barrier repair process when it’s down but help keep it intact.
About the Author
Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.
She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favorite part working for REN.