The Moisture Barrier–What is it?
The moisture barrier, also called the skin barrier, is a layer of skin cells, binding lipids, and natural moisture factors that guards your skin. The purpose of this barrier is to keep threats such as bacteria out and to keep water in. Remember, your skin is your largest organ, and one if its main roles is to protect your internal organs. The skin barrier keeps water from evaporating from your organs. Therefore, it is easy to deduce that a healthy skin barrier would maintain the hydration and health of the skin itself.
Lipids: lipids are naturally occurring molecules such as waxes, fats, fat soluble vitamins, etc. Lipids lock in and provide moisture. They bind the the skin barrier together.
What happens when the skin barrier is compromised?
Your skin will become dry/dehydrated, susceptible to bacterial growth–acne, irritation, histamine spots, and will be more prone to sun damage. No thanks!
How to tell if your skin barrier is compromised:
- Prone to irritated spots
- Chronically dehydrated skin even while drinking proper water, moisturizing, etc.
- Sudden outbreaks of acne with no known cause
- reoccurring histamine spots
- increased sensitivity of the skin
How to heal your skin barrier:
Step back. If you’re using a ton of products, now is the time to be a minimalist. You have to let your skin recover by being gentle with it.
- Quit using hot water on your face. It’s awful for it.
- Stop with the serums and such for a while. Absolutely do not use any exfoliators during this time.
- Keep the moisture coming. Drink tons of water and white/green tea. Use the strongest moisturizer’s you have at night, use whatever you need to during the day to keep you from being super greasy if you have oily skin.
- Avoid “baking” your face or applying heavy makeup. Talc, often found in powder makeup products, is seriously drying, as it absorbs all moisture like a sponge. Do your best to avoid it.
- Eat (mind your portions here) nuts and other healthy fat rich foods such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon.
- Switch to a hydrating, non-soap based cleanser. This is life changing. Your cleanser should never strip you, even if you have oily skin.
- Use a hyaluronic acid if you have one on hand–don’t let the word acid scare you. Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in our bodies and works to bind moisture to the skin, not strip it!
- Take your daily vitamin and of course, eat well. Probiotics are great for your skin and I recommend taking them daily even if your skin barrier is in great shape.
How to maintain a healthy skin barrier/ Why you should rotate treatments:
A well maintained, healthy skin barrier will result in brighter, clearer, plumped, hydrated skin. Many of us have countless products we use to try and achieve this. Why try and mimic the results of a healthy skin barrier when we can just have one?
Many of these products you have are probably superfluous. Not all of them, though. Treatments are essential to healthy happy skin for people who aren’t blessed with naturally perfect skin. Most of us aren’t. But overwhelming our skin with treatments can yield the opposite of the intended effect. This is why I narrowed my treatments down to the “tailored to my skin” essentials.
Daily Essentials-Morning (Dry Skin)
- Hydrating, non-soap based cleanser: La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser $14–see my review here
- Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel as Toner$11–ALCHOL FREE. A shocking amount of toner’s and would-be hydrating essences contain alcohol and other drying agents. Read up on your ingredients. I know I’ve been surprised in the past at products claiming to hydrate skin.
- Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer $25–a great no frills moisturizer. I will be moving on when I finish this bottle as winter is coming and I need something with my hydration.
- Origins Essence
- Serum: Klair’s Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drops $23–my skin loves vitamin C. It’s the only treatment I use daily. When I finish this product I will be using The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension, which I will use at night, so I’ll have to switch up my application process a bit. More on that here.
Daily Essentials-Night (Dry Skin)
- This might be controversial, but I’m over balm cleansers. They have done nothing but dry my skin out like a motherfucker. I prefer Garnier’s Micellar Water for Waterproof Makeup $9 to pre-cleanse my skin. It’s gentle, oil, free, and doesn’t strip my skin. The Bioderma original pink water wrecked me, but this one doesn’t. I LOVE it.
- Follow up with La Roche Posay Toleraine Hydrating Gentle Cleanser $14 again. After removing makeup this gently cleanses, hydrates, and preps the skin for whatever treatment (yes, singular) I plan to use.
- Mario Badescu’s Ceramide Complex with NMF & AHA $35 is my all time favorite night cream. I reviewed it on my instagram
My rotation of Treatments
- Paula’s Choice Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid $29–whenever I see people complaining that this is too expensive and small of a bottle for toner I die a little bit inside. This is a treatment, and is way too intense to use everyday, especially if you are using other treatments. It’s a bit drying, but incredibly effective. I use this to clear out my pores and handle my congested skin. I use this every third day, and don’t ever use another treatment when I do. I also add an oil over my moisturizer after using it because of how drying it can be.
- The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% $7.90–This product I could probably use everyday, but I don’t need to, and I feel that layering too many products affects their effectiveness. I use this when my skin is a bit dull and red/irritated.
- Avéne Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream $28–I am a long time sufferer of random histamine spots. As far as skin issues go, it’s not the worst, but it’s also not fun to randomly have an itchy rash spot on your face. Obviously, itching the face is a huge hell nope. This cream is created to restore the skin barrier, many people use it after skin surgeries such as removing a mole, etc. I find that it heals my dry spots, cuts, and histamine spots rapidly. I use this whenever I get one of those, but also as a treatment for dryness between my eyebrows every few days.
As you can see, I don’t use many treatments. This is thankfully working for me really well. When I used to layer on multiple treatments a night, my skin didn’t respond very well. It became drier, dehydrated, and compromised, and prone to acne, which is not something I had ever suffered from before. In my efforts to pile on “miracle” products I fucked my skin up.
Some things to consider:
- When your skin absorbs a product, that product is filling your pores and gently (hopefully) penetrating your skin barrier. Using too many harsh products in a row will penetrate too deeply and allow harmful bacteria in and moisture out.
- When you apply a product with an active ingredient, you want to let that ingredient shine, let it work its magic. Give it the night on it’s own for your skin to process it, so to speak.
- Rotating your products will save you money. Your products are more effective, for the most part, when used in conjuncture with just your essentials. Use 1 a night, and rotate, to make your products last longer and be more effective. All of this is good on your wallet and skin!
Hopefully this post has helped some of you! I know for me, learning about my skin barrier and how to take care of it has infinitely improved my skin’s dehydration issue, histamine spot issue, clarity, and acne issues.
FTC: I make commission off of this widget so use it only if you’re ok with that 🙂