Steer clear of skin damage by fortifying your skin barrier

Having sensitive, itchy, dry skin that sometimes results in breakouts? We might know what’s causing your skincare woes and how to prevent it!

Your skin barrier – the unsung hero

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Our skin is made up of a lipid-barrier – the outermost layer of the epidermis – which has a dual function to:

  1. Provide a barrier (literally) to prevent external allergens such as dust and environmental pollution, and bacteria from passing through the epidermis.
  2. Reduce transepidermal water loss – when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin’s surface, to keep the skin hydrated.

When our skin barrier is in a healthy state, it has the right amount of lipids to be able to retain moisture within the skin and be resilient to environmental stressors. On the other hand, a lack of lipids will manifest symptoms such as dry, itchy or sensitive skin.

What affects our skin barrier?

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There are multiple reasons as to why our skin barrier may be compromised. It ranges from external factors which we may not be able to control, such as pollution, to how we treat our skin on a regular basis. For example, using too many harsh ingredients such as high concentration retinoids and acids, or frequently going for stimulating treatments such as skin resurfacing procedures and laser treatments. Simple everyday actions like over-cleansing and over-exfoliating our skin can also cause damage to our skin barrier. Lastly, ageing and stress can also result in a weakened skin barrier!

All of these can lead to an impaired skin barrier, which can present itself in the form of inflammation – redness and sensitivity, itchiness, dryness, flakiness, and even acne-flare up. 

How can we prevent skin barrier damage?

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There are multiple ways in which we can protect and care for our skin barrier. Here are 5 things you can incorporate into your skincare routine for a stronger, healthier skin barrier! 

1) Be gentle

Treat your skin with tender care! Steer clear of harsh cleansers and exfoliants which can strip your skin. Not only will your skin’s natural sebum be washed off, your skin will also fall prey to sensitivity, dryness and itchiness when you use cleansing products that are too harsh.

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Instead, pick a light cleanser such as the ActivCalm Gentle Hydrating Cleansing Mousse – a hydrating foaming cleanser suitable for daily use. And a gentle exfoliant such as the LumiWhite Exfoliating Scrub (to be used twice a week) which contains non-abrasive jojoba beads, and jojoba oil to moisturise the skin . 

2) Hydrate your skin topically

Water is essential for a fully-functioning skin barrier. In normal healthy skin, the water content in the outermost layer of our skin, the stratum corneum, is 15-30%. If the skin barrier is damaged, there will be an increase in Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) – when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin’s surface, resulting in dehydrated and dull-looking skin. Humectants such as Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin have the capacity to attract water and increase water content in the skin to strengthen the skin barrier.

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Try using ést.lab’s ActivCalm Ultra-Hyalusol Serum and ActivCalm Anti-Stress Hydra Cream, all of which contain Hyaluronic Acid to keep your skin well hydrated throughout the day.

3) Pick the right ingredients

The next time you are at the store to pick up a moisturiser, look out for these 2 ingredients – niacinamide and ceramides! Niacinamide increases the rate of cell turnover, and aids in the synthesis of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol which are essential components that make up the ‘glue’ holding together the skin structure in the stratum corneum. A reduction in TEWL can be observed over time with topical applications of niacinamide. 

Ceramides are the first major class of lipids in the upper epidermis, where there exists at least 9 different types of ceramides. They help create a barrier to prevent permeability, thereby locking in moisture into your skin, which helps prevent dryness and irritation. Essential fatty acids are the second major class of lipids in the epidermis and they help the skin in wound healing, as well as to fight any bacterial infection.

Try the VitaLift A+ Cellular Ultra-Repair Cream which is packed with both niacinamide and ceramides to provide your skin with the ability to hydrate, repair and protect!

4) Shield up

It’s not just the Earth that needs to be pollution-free, your skin can do with some anti-pollution products too! As mentioned, pollution is also a cause of damage to your skin barrier, and incorporating anti-pollution products into your skincare routine can make a difference!

The VitaLift A+ OPC Antioxidant Cream is chock-full of grape seed extract which helps to neutralise free radicals which cause premature skin ageing, and protect your skin from the unseen pollutants in the air. Use this as your day cream, to protect your skin while out and about. 

5) Don’t forget your sunscreen

As we always say, never leave your house without sunscreen! Suncare is, without a doubt, the most important step in our morning skincare routine. Did you know that exposure to UV rays causes sun damage which accelerates the rate of our skin ageing? Protect your skin with a high SPF of at least 30 whether you remain indoors or outdoors.

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Try our best selling SunShield SPF50, suitable for normal to dry skin and SunShield Aqua SPF50, suitable for oily and sensitive skin to minimise UV damage to your skin.

Now that you’re armed with the right knowledge, treat your skin with the care and love it deserves to prevent skin barrier damage for healthy, hydrated and radiant skin!

In Good Hands,