But what is the skin barrier? What does it do? What happens if it gets damaged? How can you repair it?
We’ll answer all of your questions and explore four ways to help repair and restore a damaged skin barrier.
What Is a Skin Barrier, and What Role Does It Play in Skin Health?
Your skin consists of several layers, and each one performs a specific function, protecting your body. However, there are two other components that many people skip over when talking about the skin barrier: the acid mantle and microbiome — let’s explore all three and how they work together to keep your skin and body healthy.
The outermost layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) is like a brick wall protecting your body. It consists of many tough skin cells bound together — this is the skin barrier.
The acid mantle is made of the secretions from your sweat and sebaceous glands, which deliver amino acids, lactic acid, and sebum. Ideally, your acid mantle will stay at a pH range of 4.5-5.0. When it falls out of this range, the acid mantle weakens, leaving us vulnerable to various skin issues.
Related: The Right pH Level Is Everything
Then we have the microbiome, which relies on our acid mantle maintaining the proper pH to limit the bacteria that cause skin conditions like acne. Without the acid mantle and microbiome working together, our skin barrier won’t function correctly. Think of your skin health as a building and the skin barrier, microbiome, and acid mantle as the pillars that hold it up. They are all needed and if one is damaged, skin health will suffer.
Your skin barrier, acid mantle, and microbiome are all essential for good health (for your skin and body), and you need to protect them, which brings us to the following question: what can damage the skin barrier?
At Soteri Skin, we know the importance of keeping the perfect balance between your skin barrier, acid mantle, and microbiome — it’s why we created our products in the first place! Learn about pH/LOCK™ and how it focuses on and improves those three pillars of skin health.
What Damages the Skin Barrier?
Your skin barrier faces a myriad of threats each day, with some coming from outside your body and others coming from within.
Let’s look at some of the most common external and internal conditions that can have negative effects on your skin barrier:
- Your environment — either too dry or too humid
- Irritants, pollutants, and allergens in the air
- Too much sun exposure
- Using alkaline soaps and detergents
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
- Over-washing and over-exfoliating
- Using topical steroids
- Psychological distress (yes — it can damage your skin barrier!)
- Genetic factors that make you prone to conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis
In addition, some health conditions like diabetes can change your skin’s acidity, affecting the acid mantle and throwing your balance out of whack.
How Can You Repair and Restore Your Skin Barrier?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of your skin barrier and common ways it gets damaged — what can you do to protect and restore it? These four strategies can help.
Related: 5 Tips From a Dermatologist: Manage Your Itchy, Flaky Skin
Balance Your pH With the Right Skin Care Products
We’ve talked about keeping your pH levels in the right range to keep your acid mantle functioning properly, typically 4.5-6. However, the pH levels of skincare products can vary widely — it’s essential to choose a cleansing product that’s close to the natural pH of your skin and acid mantle.
In addition to repairing your skin barrier, keeping your skin’s pH at the right levels can help protect you from skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, and infections.
Not all skincare products list their pH; it’s important to look for cleansers that use high-quality ingredients and clearly label their pH level. For example, our skincare products combine hydrating ingredients with a pH level of 4.7.
Look for Skin Care Products With Barrier-Restoring Ingredients
Ceramides, for example, are found in the outermost layer of your skin and are crucial to a healthy, functioning skin barrier.
Recent research has shown that skincare products containing ceramides can help improve symptoms of a poorly functioning skin barrier, like itchiness, dryness, and scaling. Additional research shows that moisturizers containing ceramides can help strengthen your skin barrier’s structural integrity.
In addition to having a pH level of 4.7, our skincare products at Soteri Skin contain ceramides and other barrier-restoring ingredients like niacinamide.
Related: Ceramides, Clarified
Hydrate Your Skin With Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, & Amino Acids
Dry skin isn’t uncommon, and moisturizers are often the recommended solution. Occlusive moisturizers reduce the water loss from your skin, helping your skin barrier function healthily.
Like occlusive moisturizers, humectants can also improve your skin barrier’s function. These products draw water from inside your body or the environment and bind it to the skin barrier. Research has shown that products containing hyaluronic acid (like our BALANCING ACT cream), glycerin, amino acids, and honey can help restore a damaged skin barrier.
Tone Down Your Skin Care Routine (Keep It Simple!)
If you think the best skincare routine consists of using a handful of products each day, think again — you might actually be weakening your skin barrier. You don’t need to use a multitude of products that each promise to do something wonderful for your skin; you just need to invest in the right quality products.
Look for a single moisturizer that:
- Balances your pH, keeping your skin barrier, acid mantle, and microbiome balanced
- Uses barrier-restoring ingredients, relieving itchiness, dryness, and scaling
- Hydrates with humectants, improving the overall function of your skin barrier
- Keeps your routine simple, eliminating unnecessary products and skin barrier damage
Repair and Restore Your Skin Barrier With Soteri Skin
We set out to create a skincare product that hits every single point of the perfect moisturizing routine. Instead of focusing solely on the skin barrier, our creams are designed to restore optimal skin's pH level, renew skin barrier, and support skin microbiome, giving you healthy, happy skin without dryness, flakiness, or acne.
Which moisturizer is right for you? Try the lightweight BALANCING ACT, or get even more soothing and moisturizing with GIMME MORE!