Hello lovelies, in this post, I will be sharing some skincare ingredients that can help to nourish or repair our skin barrier. Before that, let’s learn more about our skin barrier.
What is skin barrier made of? What does it do?
Skin barrier is something that you, me and everyone else are equally born with. It is the outermost layer of the skin called stratum corneum. It usually refers to a brick wall which consists of bricks and mortar. Familiar with this? Throwback to some Biology lessons in high school! The bricks are the corneocytes which are dried or dead skin cells ready to be shed while the mortar acts like a cement filled with the intracellular matrix and lipids that hold the corneocytes together.
Skin barrier protects our skin from external threats, prevents moisture loss and helps to maintain skin firmness and elasticity. When a skin barrier got weakened or damaged, the skin’s permeability will increase which allows transporting what is inside out and outside in. This means the skin will undergo transepidermal water loss (TEWL) which causes dehydration, dull skin and inflammation as harmful substances penetrate into the skin more easily.
Here’s a fact. As we grow older or around the age of 40, our skin barrier function naturally weakens, renewal of cell slows down which significantly leads to dull and drier skin. Other causes of weak or damaged skin barrier are over-exfoliation, excessive cleansing, using too hot or too cold water for cleansing, sun damage, using harsh or sensitised ingredients like alkaline cleanser or artificial fragrance, smoking, physical, chemical or environmental stress and etc.
In this post, I am going to mainly talk about restoring and maintaining the skin barrier using skin identical ingredients. The mortar part a.k.a the lipid barrier or moisture barrier consists of ceramide, cholesterol and free fatty acids. Other ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides are also good for our skin barrier. Many skincare companies have developed products with such ingredients, especially for sensitive and aging skin.
*Move your cursor to the images for the name of the products.
Our skin barrier comprised of 40% ceramide which is a lipid molecule that holds the cells together. This helps to retain skin’s moisture and plumpness. Skincare products that contain ceramide often advertised as to strengthen the skin barrier and a solution for dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles. It depends on its formulation but ideally, skincare with ceramide are suitable for all skin types. If you see phytosphingosine and sphingosine on the ingredients label, these are the precursors of ceramide.
Cholesterol is naturally found in the body and also another lipid molecule found in the skin. In skincare formulation, it supports skin’s natural repair process and maintain skin’s flexibility. As an ingredient, it usually made from wool wax or squalene, a precursor to synthesize cholesterol, that is derived from animal or vegetable origin like shark liver and olive fruit.
Skincare products that contain squalene
#3 Free fatty acids
Free fatty acids or essential fatty acids are widely known as Omega-3 (alpha-linoleic aicd) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid) which can be found in our diet and supplements. In skincare, ingredients like jojoba oil, avocado oil and rosehip oil contains fatty acids helps moisture and nourish the skin without clogging the pores and irritate the skin. Ever heard that oil can be used for oily skin? Yeap! Oily skin needs fatty acids too to hydrate and reinforce the skin barrier. One of my favourite Youtuber, Liah Yoo, has a video about using oils in acne prone skin. Do watch and a give her a thumbs up!
#4 Hyaluronic Acid
This is also a naturally occurring substance in our body for hydration of the skin and lubrication of joints. In skincare, it acts as a humectant a.k.a moisture binding ingredient. It has the power to attract and absorb moisture from our surroundings to keep the skin hydrated and youthful. Whenever I have friends or customers who have dehydrated and sensitive skin, this is the first skincare ingredient I would recommend to incoporate into their skincare routine. Do note that as it is a humectant, so it is more preferable to be used in humid environment.
Peptides are chains of amino acids that acts to revitalise building block of the skin. You might know collagen which is a protein made of long segments of amino acids. By incoporating peptides into skincare, it helps with the collagen production which is important in restoring and maintaining skin’s elasticity. It also known to improve fine lines and wrinkle. On the label, check for the term palmitoyl or matrixyl that refers to peptides.
You can also get a cocktail of these ingredients in skincare products.
For who and when to start?
I recommend these products especially for those who have damaged skin barrier, sensitive skin and matured skin to maintain that youthful glow. I also recommend hyaluronic acid for all skin types to keep skin hydrated.
Other Tips for Healthy Skin Barrier
- Having a healthy diet and lifestyle habits are also important too! Include omega-3 rich food like walnuts, almond nuts, chia seed, flax seed, avocado and oily fish while cutting down on sugary snacks, salty and fried food. If it is hard to get these food in your diet, try Omega-3 or 6 supplements.
- Drink at least 2 litres of water and sleep for around 7 to 8 hours everyday. By doing this consistently for weeks, I do see improvement in my overall skintone and complexion. Discipline is key.
- Cleanse your face with room temperature water. Too hot or too cold water will stress the skin.
- Use a gentle cleanser, something that is identical to your skin’s pH (5.5).
- Exfoliate your skin only once to twice a week. Read my previous post about chemical exfoliators and over-exfoliation.
- Wear sunscreen daily, indoor and outdoor.
There you have it, top 5 skincare ingredients for our skin barrier! This post definitely does not have a very in-depth information as I do not want to bore my readers out but I really hope you find this skincare ingredients series helpful as much as I do. If you have any questions, eg. where to buy the products mentioned, feel free to DM me in instagram or leave a question below.
Read Part 1 too if you haven’t.
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Thank you for reading! 🙂
Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a qualified cosmetic chemist. The information I provide in this blog is purely based on my experience and knowledge, therefore, I cannot guarantee the information is entirely correct. I welcome feedback for any misleading information so feel free to contact me or comment below. I hold copyrights use of the images and content of this blog unless credited otherwise.