Ever spilt lemon juice on a cut?
Then you’ll agree with me, when I say it hurts like hell.
When acidic juice hits that nerve ending, you sure do know about it.
Well this should give you some idea of how your barrier functions.
When your skin is chapped and flaky it’s deficient in lovely lipids, it allows irritants like your lemon juice to penetrate easily.
SKIN BARRIER FUNCTION
The barrier function refers to the outer layer of your skin, which you can liken to a brick wall.
The CELLS are the BRICKS and holding these bricks in place are the MORTAR, an INTERCELLULAR MATRIX made up of complex materials (lipids), including ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids.
It’s very impermeable, when your lovely barrier is intact your skin looks healthy and radiant; irritants have difficulty penetrating and your skin doesn’t lose water and become easily dehydrated.
But if your barrier is impaired, your skin can look out of whack, dull and sallow, causing dry skin.
SYMPTOMS OF AN IMPAIRED BARRIER
- Flaking is a sign of a dehydrated skin
- Accentuated expression lines and wrinkles
- Stinging, because irritants penetrate easily, causing inflammation in the nerve endings
- Tightness is a sensation that occurs when the barrier is damaged
- Redness is due to inflammation, the barrier is unable to protect against irritants that penetrate
- Itchiness is classic barrier damage, when nerve endings are affected this causes itching, and when skin is scratched this causes further inflammation
WHAT DAMAGES THE BARRIER?
- Sun damage
- Cold and heat
- Over exfoliation and peels
- Over cleansing or using harsh ingredients, which strips protective lipids from the barrier
- An ageing skin, because slowing of the cell renewal cycle and extrinsic damage from the sun and inflammation upsets the barrier function, and mature skin starts to produce less oil (sebum)
CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR BARRIER?
You sure can: In fact improving your barrier function will help diffuse redness, burning, tingling, itching and dehydration, returning your skin back to a youthful, healthy glow.
Products that contain lipids, will help to supplement protective components of the barrier.
Using a good emollient moisturiser like fortify barrier repair cream will not only protect the barrier, but it will also allow the skin to repair the damaged lipid layer, through the cellular repair process.
Use gentle milk cleansers to prevent outstripping the barrier.
Avoid foaming cleansers, which are designed with detergents to remove excess sebum, because dry, sensitive skin is thinner it generally has less sebum, and detergents remove lipids in the protective barrier.
Avoid ingredients that enhance penetration, this includes acid based exfoliants and mechanical scrubs, which can cause tiny micro tears in the skin.
Sun exposure also reduces lipids especially in inflamed skins, so be sure to wear a good sunscreen.
Follow the link to learn more about our fantastic barrier function.