We all know the importance of exfoliation and also ensuring that our skin needs to be devoid of external stressors and bacteria. This invariably means one will resort to chemical exfoliants, peels and scrubs. But, the dialogue has been slowly changing as we shift our focus on healing our skin barrier. If you are wondering what is this barrier, then allow us to tell you.
Our skin has a moisture barrier which plays as a protective factor between your skin and the environment outside. It helps retain moisture and hydration. Dr Devyani Bharve, a dermatologist shares, " skin is made up of various layers. The outermost physical layer is known as the epidermis or stratum corneum. These protect our skin from external stressors like pollution, temperature change, makeup and even UV radiation."
It consists of various proteins and lipids and is slightly acidic in nature. This is important because its acidic nature is what helps in protecting your skin from external stressors, pathogens, and harmful bacteria. Dr Kiran Sethi, a dermatologist and Founder of Isya Aesthetics shares, "When you or a certain skincare product messes with your barrier, it leads to dry, inflamed, itchy, and flushed skin that feels hot. Not only that, but it also reacts to things easily causing rashes and various other skin issues."
Why is your skin's barrier broken?
One of the most common reasons is an allergic reaction to a product. Dr Kiran explains that other reasons include, "Too much abrasion to the skin which is caused by practising too much scrubbing or exfoliation." Not only that, but retinol which is considered the gold standard for skincare also harms your skin. The dermatologist also adds, "excessively shaving your face or dermaplaning too can result in a compromised skin barrier."
Basically, JUST LEAVE YOUR SKIN ALONE! "Too much over manipulation of the skin is not needed. You need to have a healthy balance of intervention to make your skin better, and laissez-faire to let those actives work on their own time" Dr Kiran adds.
Those with dry and sensitive skin is more prone to the broken skin barrier. She adds, "Oily skin protects against a lot of trauma while dry skin doesn’t have enough moisture to have the same resilience. Also, in winters you are more likely to have an issue with the skin barrier because the skin gets dehydrated and dry."
How do you mend a compromised skin barrier?
While the first step is to not experiment on your skin and just let it be, Dr Kiran suggests adding a couple of ingredients to help heal and calm down your skin. "Add ingredients such as ceramide because these are one of the essential fats that are the building blocks of a good skin barrier. Coupled with hyaluronic acid, these work great! HA is a moisturising factor that helps boost hydration of the skin. This is because the more hydrated the skin the easier it can repair itself."
She also suggests incorporating other ingredients like Vitamin B5 or dexpanthenol. "Paraffin, petrolatum and silicones can help reduce transepidermal water loss, thereby repairing the skin in a better way" she adds.
Dr Devyani also points out that, use gentle foaming cleansers and, "make sure you avoid cream-based moisturisers as it can clog your pores. Include gentle-lotion-based moisturisers."
How much time does it take to heal the skin's barrier?
Dr Kiran's first and repeated advice is to simply stop scrubbing or exfoliation. "Avoid using any ingredients that could strip you of your natural oils and moisture. Because it is the natural oils and dead keratin cells that help the skin to rebuild" she says. It can take anywhere from 21 days to 5-6 weeks for the barrier to repair, and sometimes even longer depending on your age and severity and duration of your barrier damage. "Essentially it all depends on the length of a skin cycle where old skin sheds and new layers form. It is important to note that younger skin cycles are shorter than older skin cycles" she explains.
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