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How to Strengthen Your Skin’s Protective Barrier

What is the skin’s protective barrier?

Your skin’s protective barrier is quite simply what shields your skin from the nasties in this world, and keeps the good stuff in. The skin has two main layers – the upper epidermis and the lower dermis – which are in turn full of different cell types that all have their different roles.

The upper dermis, also known as the stratum corneum, is built up from dead skin cells that are essential for the barrier function of the skin. The lower dermis is the layer just underneath, which gives our skin its elasticity and supports the skin, while also holding many nerve endings. Taking care of the dermal layers of your skin is crucial to improving your skin’s protective barrier.

What happens to your skin?

The skin on your face is one of the most vulnerable areas of the body and prone to damage. When fats or lipids are stripped from the upper layers, it damages the skin’s protective barrier, stopping it from doing its very important job. It will create cracks in the skin and dry it out. When the skin breaks, it releases the moisture. As the moisture leaves, other things can enter the skin, such as dirt and pollutants, which does even more harm! Anything from blemishes to infections can happen if you leave it, which nobody wants.

External factors affecting the skin’s protective barrier

Lack of UV protection can cause your skin to dry out quicker, which is often associated with aging skin, but it also plays a big part in the damage of your skin’s protective barrier.

Harsh weather, especially strong winds and cold climates, can hit your skin hard. In extreme heat or cold, the changing temperatures from going inside to either air conditioning or heating from the opposite outside can play with your skin’s barrier.

How you treat your skin can dramatically affect your skin’s protective barrier. Too much exfoliation or cleansing can break it down, and products with chemicals such as retinol can dry it out. Retinol is used to decrease the activity of the sebaceous glands which produce the sebum the skin produces – often used by people with oily skin to reduce pimples.

Internal factors affecting the skin’s protective barrier

As we get older, our skin produces less sebum and lipids, making the appearance of wrinkles more prominent, and our skin much drier. The younger you are, the more sebum your skin produces, so your protective barrier does naturally get weaker with age.

Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis weaken the skin’s protective barrier naturally, too. So ensuring proper care of any condition is vital to protect your skin from further damage. 

How to strengthen it

The key to soft skin is hydration and moisture, but with scientific research, there are products to improve the health of skin further. To get the best results, you need to protect the dermal layers by replacing any absent lipids and fats from the skin and providing it with the support it has lost. Here are a few ingredients to look out for.

Products with collagen can improve your skin’s elasticity and therefore will contribute to the barrier’s function. Collagen is present throughout the body, but diminishes as we get older. It is essential to the whole body’s bone, joint and skin support system.

Hyaluronic acids (HA) in skin care products are highly beneficial to the skin’s protective barrier. HA gives moisture, and ensures that moisture does not escape the skin. HA occurs naturally in the body, but our bodies produce less as we age.

Glycerin is found in a lot of products, because it helps hydrate skin by bringing moisture up from the bottom. It is a simple yet effective ingredient to use on your skin and help get that glow.

Stimulate your skin with top quality skin care products so that it is less prone to damage, and you will have less to worry about!



Rachel Cleverley

Part writer, part skin-care enthusiast, I can usually be found blogging away with the latest facemask or eye cream on! With specific interest in how our health and fitness can affect our beauty routine, and how science can boost regular, drugstore products.