Why you NEED to look after your skin barrier

This layer of skin is often taken for granted - but focusing your skincare around your skin barrier could be the answer to your issues!

Hair & Beauty

How many different skincare products have you used over the past year?

For most skin concerns, there's a product to remedy it. However, there are so many options out there, that we often have to put our complexions through so many poor skincare choices before finding the right one. And because everyone's skin is so different, this can take months for some of us, if not years.

When it comes to uneven texture, impurities and inflammation, research has shown that exfoliating acids such as AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid), BHAs (salicylic acid) and PHAs have high efficacy in the treatment of these conditions - even with low doses in drugstore cosmetics. If you suffer with any of these conditions, chances are that you've tried a fair few acids to try to balance your skin. But could you be doing more harm than good?

Overusing these effective but potent ingredients could actually damage your skin’s moisture barrier. This is a part of our complexions that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. But it does bear thinking about, and it can benefit from the right care.

Here's everything you need to know about the skin barrier, with tips from BYOMA.

The skin barrier: What is it?

The skin barrier (AKA the moisture barrier) is the outer protective layer of skin that works to keep your complexion happy, healthy, and hydrated. It’s made up of lipids, the natural fats in our skin including ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol, that keep it moisturised and keep nasties out. These lipids bind your tough skin cells together. It’s an essential element of a clear, moisturised complexion. 

A healthy skin barrier will keep things like dirt, pollutants, and bacteria out of the deeper layers of your skin. As a result, your skin will look and feel soft, smooth, and bright. But a damaged barrier spells bad news for your complexion.

What happens if my skin barrier gets damaged?

A damaged moisture barrier can’t protect your skin from outside factors. This means bacteria and dirt can penetrate your skin and cause damage, including acne and texture. This leads to rough-feeling skin that is dull and prone to blemishes. 

A woman smiling while floating in water

Your moisture barrier is also essential to keeping hydration and water in your skin, so damage to your skin barrier will result in water loss. This leaves your skin dehydrated, so it might overproduce oil to compensate for a lack of hydration. What’s more, the inability to keep moisture in your skin means it’s more prone to signs of ageing like fine lines, dullness, and wrinkles.

How do I know if my skin barrier is damaged?

As well as your skin not looking its best, you’ll be able to tell your moisture barrier has been damaged by how it feels. Damaged skin is red and sensitive to the touch. You might find that your usual skincare products start to sting or feel uncomfortable, even if you’ve invested in nourishing products.

As more of us got into skincare as a result of COVID lockdowns, we were drawn to acids and retinols that promised clearer, younger skin. But it’s safe to say we got a bit obsessed with them and this has left a lot of us with sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts. This led Future Beauty Labs founder Marc Elrick to create a brand-new skincare line based on boosting your skin’s barrier.

Marc says: “In 2020, when we were all confined to our homes, we started getting into skincare and before we knew it, we were experimenting with super-strong actives. We were effectively playing chemists without understanding that these ingredients need to be used with care, and a lot of people ended up with red, angry skin. 

“I began developing BYOMA the same year after learning more about skin science and the importance of our moisture barrier. BYOMA is all about boosting your skin barrier, which is essential before you begin to address any issues like texture or acne.”

What's the best way to protect my skin barrier?

So now that you know why looking after your skin’s moisture barrier is so important, how do you do it? Here are some handy tips:

Cut down on acid overuse

BYOMA was borne out of people going too hard on their skin with exfoliating acids and skin-renewing retinols. Ingredients like salicylic acid and lactic acid are fantastic as part of a proper skincare routine, but their use should be limited. Don’t use these types of acid daily – instead, use them every other day at most. PHAs are a gentler option if these acids irritate your skin. If your barrier is already disrupted, stop using them immediately until your skin has calmed down.

Try gentle cleansers

Who amongst us didn’t use rough scrubs or harsh astringents on their face in their teenage years? But we’ve learnt from our mistakes – for the most part. Cleansers that are too harsh will strip moisture from your skin, damaging the barrier. Modern facial cleansers are powerful enough to deeply cleanse your skin but are also creamy and hydrating to keep your moisture barrier intact.

Stay out of the sun and away from heat

Has your skin ever felt dry, tight, or sensitive after washing it with hot water? While it can be tempting to use hot water to wash our faces because it feels good at the time, make sure you stick to lukewarm water. Hot water can further dry out our skin and leave it feeling tight and uncomfortable. 

As for the sun, wear SPF every day – yes, even in the winter. The sun’s rays are the biggest cause of skin ageing and damage. And this damage applies to your moisture barrier too.

Skincare

Prioritise moisturiser

A simplified skincare routine is best both for a moisture barrier that’s already been upset or for long-term barrier protection. You can incorporate multiple steps, like toners and serums, but a deeply hydrating moisturiser is essential. For dry skin, choose a moisturiser with a rich texture. Oily skin will benefit most from a gel moisturiser that hydrates without overwhelming the skin. Build your routine around this – you can add in serums that target specific concerns like blackheads, or hydration-boosting serums that add even more moisture to thirsty skin.

In our quest for perfect skin, many of us have gone a little overboard with the actives and compromised our skin barrier. If this is damaged, we can expect red, sensitive skin that is dry, acne-prone, and rough. And that’s not the look or the feel we’re going for. By prioritising your moisture barrier in your skincare routine, you’ll have clear, plump, glowing skin – and that’s the vibe we’re going for.

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