Woman worrying about her damaged skin

Skin Barrier Function

Written by Lauren Wise

What role does it play in you having the flawless skin you want?

How can you maintain a healthy skin barrier function?

Our skin barrier function is dependent on three key protective layers, our skin microbiome, acid mantle and lipid barrier. Put quite simply, these protective layers work together to keep the good stuff in and keep the bad stuff out.

These are not visible to the naked eye, but if this protective barrier becomes compromised, expect HAVOC!!!

Dehydration, dry, tight, itchy skin.

Excessively oily, congested, inflamed break outs.

Sensitive, irritated skin.

Even pigmentation and premature ageing!

Normal skin barrier function as harmful substances unable to penetrate through the corneocytes and skin barrierDisrupted skin barrier function as harmful substances penetrate through the stratum corneum

All of these skin conditions can be linked back to having impaired barrier function, at least in part. It is essential that you first repair the skins barrier function before trying to treat any of the above skin conditions. Without a healthy skin barrier, your skin simply cannot function optimally, which leads to your skin continually misbehaving! 

To understand how to maintain a healthy skin barrier, we must understand how the skin microbiome, acid mantle and lipid barrier function, to know how to best care for them.  

You may have heard of the gut microbiome, but have you heard of the skin microbiome? A microbiome is a community of micro-organisms living together in a habitat known as a biotope. That’s right, the largest group of bacteria second to the gut, right there all over your skin! But don’t fret! They are mostly friendly; in fact, they are essential to maintaining a healthy skin. Microbes protect us from foreign invading pathogens. 

Our next line of defence is the acid mantle - a fine film made up of sweat and sebum. Sebum is the oil we naturally secrete. It is ideal for our acid mantle to be slightly acidic, however, if our acid mantle is too acidic or too alkaline, our skin can become susceptible to a host of skin issues, as previously mentioned. This can be due to environmental factors, intrinsic factors, incorrect product usage and products containing emulsifiers and preservatives.

Crucial for the skin’s barrier function is the lipid barrier in the outer most layer of the skin, the Stratum Corneum. The lipid barrier’s role in skin barrier function is to prevent trans- epidermal water loss through the epidermis and to prevent unwanted bacteria or irritants entering to the epidermal and dermal layers (when this does occur, it can provoke a nasty immune response). The lipid barrier is comprised of ceramides, cholesterols and free fatty acids.

The best way to maintain a healthy lipid barrier, if yours is lacking, is to use products that mimic the skin’s lipid barrier. Products with ingredients such as…. phospholipids, ceramides, triglycerides, squalene, fatty acids and cholesterol, preferably derived from natural ingredients. 

So how do you keep your skin barrier function in check and maintain beautiful healthy skin?

  1. Come into the salon for a complimentary skin consultation! From here, we can better assess your skin care needs and create your own personal treatment plan 
  2. Avoid skin care products that contain emulsifiers, preservatives, parabens, mineral oils, colours and fragrance (if this sounds impossible, don’t worry, we have the solution)
  3. Avoid excessively exfoliating your skin
  4. Avoid ablative exfoliating treatments (such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion)
  5. Consider consulting with a natural health practitioner (what we see on our skin can be a reflection of our internal health, not just our skin health)

The beautiful skin you want happens by appointment, not by chance.

Book an appointment today, to start your journey to healthy skin.

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