What is a moisture barrier & how do I repair it?

The moisture barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that acts as your very own protector from external pollutants that cause irritation and premature aging. It also helps your skin retain the water and moisture you need for a healthy, calm complexion. Your barrier is made up of lipids which help to maintain the strength by acting as the glue to bind the skin cells together. When your moisture barrier isn’t compromised, your skin should feel plump, soft, smooth textured and radiant, however when your barrier is damaged your skin will become more sensitized and may itch, sting, feel tight, and you could experience redness, flakiness and fine lines. You can accidentally damage your barrier by over-exfoliating, using too hot of water on the face, too harsh of products, smoking, drinking alcohol, medications etc. The barrier starts to naturally become less protective after turning 45 years old. Sometimes the barrier can be fixed rather easy and quickly while other times with repeated damage and abuse to the skin it may be a little more time consuming. If you have any of the symptoms stated above and feel you may have damaged your moisture barrier, you must first simplify your routine and make a change to more gentle products for the recovery period. You should stop all exfoliation for 2-3 weeks while your skin is in the first phase of recovering, this includes using a washcloth on the face, facial cleansing brushes(Clarisonic), all exfoliating acids(glycolic, lactic, mandelic, etc), and physical scrubs on the face. After the 2-3 weeks, you can start slowly incorporating your exfoliation back in, however do not exfoliate daily. Lukewarm water is recommended always to cleanse the skin as too hot of water constricts the blood vessels and raises the internal temperature which can cause damage to the skin. Like always wear sunscreen daily SPF30 or higher. Fragrances on the skin are not recommended, this can have a drying effect on the skin and can cause unnecessary irritation that can impair your barrier. When looking for a moisturizer while repairing your barrier, purchase one that has ingredients such as ceramides, evening primrose oil, niacinamide, formulations of vitamin E, linoleic acid etc. these will help to calm the skin but restore the moisture. The moisturizer doesn’t need to be thick an greasy to work there are multiple options that still contain these ingredients that will not be clogging and heavy. All skin types need oil and water but especially when the barrier has been compromised, an essence is another great product to invest in when working on fixing the moisture barrier. An essence is like a toner but it has water-binding ingredients, you will use this after cleansing and while the essence is still damp on the skin you will apply a serum to seal in the hydration benefits. While fixing your barrier, you will not want to use anything that is irritating, and listen to your skin, if something stings or makes your skin feel tight then it is a sign that it isn’t the right product for you. The full repairing process of a moisture barrier is about 2-4 weeks. The moisture barrier is one of the greatest skin functions, it helps keep the key to healthy, youthful skin “in” while keeping everything that can be dangerous and damaging to our skin “out”. Protect it, love it, cherish it and if you ever feel like your skin has become problematic, I can almost guarantee it has something to do with your moisture barrier not working at it’s full potential. It’s the true “holy grail”.

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