Whether defending, restoring, or strengthening , in skincare there’s a lot of talk about the skin’s moisture barrier. Sometimes known as the skin's protective barrier too, aside from its name being pretty self-explanatory, it’s not always that clear however why we need to pay so much attention to the moisture barrier. For example, how does it get damaged, what are the signs of damage, and why is protecting the skin barrier so important?
To answer all these questions and more, here’s everything you need to know about the skin’s moisture barrier.
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 or moisture.
Here's a not so fun fact, it's estimated that more than 75% of the population suffers from dehydration. And, you guessed it, that means your skin's moisture barrier is damaged. The good news is, you can restore it and at the same time, improve your skin's hydration levels and get rid of that tight, dry feeling.
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's 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 or reactions.
Nothing disrupts your stratum corneum quite like over-exfoliation. We always recommend exfoliation as part of every skincare ritual, but it needs to be kept within a reasonable amount. Chemical and physical exfoliation can be incredibly effective, as are monthly peels too, but should be used within the recommended frequency.
Everyone's skin is different, however, so make sure to listen to your skin and avoid exfoliation if you’re feeling extra sensitive. Reduce it for a while and see how that goes.
Another factor in damaged moisture barriers is winter or prolonged cold weather. 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 moisture barrier becomes out of whack, don't stress, just follow these 3 easy steps: