How to Repair the Skin Barrier on Your Face

How to Repair the Skin Barrier on Your Face

The skin barrier is the first line of defense against the sun, pollutants, smoke, and microbes that can damage your skin. But what happens when the skin barrier itself is damaged? Can you restore it to its naturally protective state? The short answer is “yes,” but if you’d like to find out how to prevent and repair damage, I highly recommend that you read on. 

What is the Skin Barrier?

Some of you may be reading this article and saying to yourselves, “Well, yes, of course, I want to replace my skin barrier. Just remind me, what’s the skin barrier again?” The fact is that we all know what the skin barrier is, even if it’s not the term we normally use. The skin barrier or lipid barrier is the natural layer of oil on your skin. Because oils are waterproof, they help your skin retain water and electrolytes so that it stays full and tight. It also blocks harmful particles and microbes from reaching your skin. Without this barrier, your skin becomes drier, thinner, and dull. If you have naturally sensitive skin or large pores, you can also develop red patches. 

Another important function of the skin barrier is to aid in the shedding of dead skin cells. If your skin barrier is damaged, dead cells can accumulate, dulling your complexion.

How the Skin Barrier Gets Damaged

There are many factors that can damage the skin barrier. These are the common causes of skin barrier damage. If your skin experiences one or more of the following, you may have barrier damage:

  • Drying Skincare Products – Some skincare products contain alcohol, exfoliants, detergents, and other harsh elements. These may strip away the oils that comprise the skin barrier. If you use them often enough, your skin barrier won’t have time to recover from the damage. 
  • Too Much Exfoliation – Exfoliate sparingly. The purpose of exfoliation is to remove dead skin cells. Too much exfoliation can remove the skin barrier, which is ultimately counterproductive. 
  • Environmental Factors –  Cold winter air can be just as damaging to the skin barrier as the bright sun. Pollutants can also damage the thin layer of oil. 
  • Poor Hydration – Dry skin from dehydration can have a damaging effect on the skin barrier. 
  • Medicine – Topical steroids and other medication may be necessary, but they can deteriorate your protective barrier. 
  • Diet – A poor diet can rob your body of the essential nutrients required to build the skin barrier oils. 
  • Stress – Anxiety can increase cortisol production, which can impair the skin barrier’s function. 

Some of these elements may be out of your control, but most of us could stand to improve our diets, get a bit more sleep, and at least try to reduce stress. Fortunately, a good skin care regimen can mitigate a great deal of damage to the skin barrier. More on this later. 

Symptoms of a Damaged Skin Barrier

Many of the symptoms of a damaged skin barrier can also be the result of other conditions. If you have concerns that you may have another skin condition or the steps outlined in this article are ineffective, consult a dermatologist or a licensed esthetician.

  • Dry, scaly skin – This can result from the skin’s loss of moisture due to a weakened skin barrier. 
  • Itchiness – Dry skin is more sensitive, inflamed, and raw. This can be a direct result of a damaged skin barrier. Constant scratching can further damage the skin barrier. 
  • Discolored patches – The skin barrier doesn’t always wear away evenly. The resulting patches can be an indication of uneven damage. 
  • Acne – One of the skin barrier's primary functions is to shield against bacteria, which can be responsible for acne outbreaks. 
  • Infections – Other microbes can bypass a damaged skin barrier, causing eruptions, inflammation, rashes, and more. 

How To Repair the Skin Barrier

If you believe that your skin barrier is compromised, there’s no reason to panic. Like the skin itself, the lipid barrier has powerful recuperative properties. These steps will help you restore the skin’s protective barrier to a healthy status. 

1. Stop Destroying Your Barrier With Bad Habits

If you’re guilty of any of the above-described causes of skin damage, it’s time to make some changes. Reduce your time in the sun or apply a stronger SPF sunscreen, drink more water, meditate, and maybe exfoliate less often. Toss out skincare products that have drying agents and replace them with gentle products with more nurturing ingredients.

2. Choose a Gentle Cleanser

It’s important to clean your face without damaging your skin barrier. This probably goes without saying, but if you’re using body soap or any detergent that’s not designed for the face, it’s time to end this practice. A hydrating cleanser like Serious C3 Clean will clean your pores, boost antioxidants, and allow your skin to rebuild its barrier. 

3. Pick a Skincare Products Containing These Ingredients

Find serums, moisturizers, and other science-based skincare products for your skin type that contain:

  • Ceramides – These are lipid molecules that the skin can utilize to rebuild its barrier.
  • Fatty Acids – This can also boost the integrity of the skin barrier. 
  • Cholesterol – This helps in the retention of moisture and facilitates ceramides and fatty acids 
  • Hyaluronic acid and glycerin – These skincare elements aid moisture in penetrating the skin. 
  • Niacinamide (B3) – Increases natural ceramide production.
  • Antioxidants – These will mitigate damage from environmental factors, like the sun. 

4. Change Your Diet

You may have a clean, healthy diet, but are you getting enough omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants? Eat proteins like fish, nuts, and seeds to boost your omega-3 intake and lots of fruits and vegetables to help eliminate your free radicals. 

5. Eliminate Stress 

I know this is easier said than done, but self-care is essential to reducing cortisol, which destroys the skin barrier. 

6. Protect Your Face

Use sunblock to allow your skin to recover. You can also use a hat and sunglasses to provide additional protection against ultraviolet rays. 

Your skin has miraculous healing properties. If you eliminate the negative elements and boost the positive ones, your skin barrier will come back. 

Your Step-By-Step Skin Barrier Defense and Restoration Regimen

Your morning regimen is critical for protecting your skin barrier or, in the case of a damaged skin barrier, restoring it. 

  1. Cleanser – Use a gentle facial cleanser designed for your skin type: dry, combination, oily, or normal. Do not use any commercial body soaps or detergents on your face. Use cool water and pat (don’t rub) your face dry. 
  2. Serum – Choose a serum that contains the essential ingredients for skin barrier repair that I outlined above. 
  3. Eye Cream – Ignore the eyes at your own peril. The skin around the eyes is very sensitive, which means it relies on the skin barrier to protect and hydrate it. For this reason, you should normalize wearing sunglasses during the day. 
  4. Moisturizer – Choose a moisturizer that matches your skin type. Your moisturizer will provide a protective layer for the skin barrier to heal beneath. 
  5. Facial Oil – Whether you typically use a facial oil or you are just adopting this step until you restore your skin barrier, this is the point where you should apply it. Don’t overdo it. If your skin is healthy, it will also be producing natural oils. 
  6. Sunscreen – We recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply it throughout the day if you intend to be in the sun for long. Use a hat to provide additional protection. 

During your nighttime routine, you’ll want to use a gentle makeup remover before you begin this routine. You can skip the sunscreen step since sunlight won’t be a factor. 

Serious Skincare products are designed with the skin barrier and all layers of the skin in mind. But as high-quality as our products are, they’re no substitute for a solid skin defense regimen. With healthy habits and the right products, you’ll be amazed at what your skin can do. 

Back to blog