As you may know, there are various layers to the skin, each serving a different purpose. Your moisture barrier, also known as your acid mantle or stratum corneum, provides critical protection for your skin. This layer acts as the first line of defense, keeping good things in and bad things out. Those bad things it keeps out include environmental stressors, bacteria, pollutants and other irritants. And the good things? That mainly includes hydration. Not so fun fact, it is estimated that more than 75% of the population suffers from dehydration.
When your moisture barrier is healthy, epidermal cells are packed tightly to prevent water loss. This is similar to the way mortar fills in the gaps between bricks. It’s much more difficult for anything to enter or exit the skin when there is a solid line of defense blocking the road. The more it’s compromised, the more room there is in between your skin cells for moisture to escape and bacteria to enter. If your skin feels tight, itchy, or abnormally sensitive, your moisture barrier is likely damaged. A sure sign of a damaged acid mantle is when even your normal products cause sensitivity and/or reactions.
Nothing disrupts your stratum corneum quite like over-exfoliation. Acids may be having their moment but that doesn’t give you a free pass to use them recklessly. Chemical and physical exfoliation can be incredibly effective but should be used with care. Make sure to listen to your skin and pass on exfoliation if you’re feeling extra sensitive. Another factor in damaged moisture barriers- winter. Increase your moisturizer when the temps drop to help avoid dry, dehydrated skin. We promise, your skin will thank you.
In the off chance that your acid mantle becomes out of whack, don't fret! Just follow these 3 easy steps:
Have you ever damaged your moisture barrier? What products helped you the most when trying to repair it? We want to know! Let us know in the comments below!