Here at NC, we believe an intact barrier function is the foundation of healthy skin.
Why? It may not look like it, but your skin is constantly hard at work.
Its most challenging job is at the outermost layer, your protective barrier.
You can liken your barrier to a security guard for your skin.
It is there to stop potential problems from passing through and to protect what lies within.
The weakness of this shield is the underlying cause of many sensitive skin concerns.
Understanding Creams That Repair Your Barrier
This series is the culmination of years of working directly with the skin.
We look at what depletes the barrier function of your skin.
And the skin-identical ingredients that replenish them.
We aim to make sense of the misinformation out there; for you, our readers, and our clients with a compromised barrier.
Whether from poorly performed treatments, incorrect product usage, environmental or systemic damage, or premature ageing.
You need only read the list below to realise that skin with a damaged barrier can lead to a lot of skin conditions:
- sallow or dull
- pimples, papules, and pustules
As you can see, if your barrier function is out of balance, it can be bad news all around.
Conditions that occur are dryness, irritation, and inflammation; your skin will often turn red with light contact and may sting when any product is applied.
To understand this further, we must first look at your barrier function in more detail.
What is Your Barrier Made up Of?
This study (1) shows lipids’ proportions in topical applications CERAMIDES, CHOLESTEROL, and FATTY ACIDS are the ones that are found in your skin,
However, with age, your body’s production of these lipids declines, disrupting your skin’s natural functions – this is terrible news for your skin’s natural self-repair.
The ideal proportion for ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids in a formula is 3:1:1 – or, put another way, three parts of one ingredient to each other.
We have covered this article in detail in the article Barrier Function it’s your Skin’s Security Guard.
What Can Compromise Your Barrier?
Generally, your skin undergoes a complete renewal process within about 4 to 6 weeks.
Natural cellular turnover, ageing, harsh ingredients and treatments and environmental pollutants all compromise our protective barrier.
In addition, your skin loses essential substances through the solvent effect of liquids:
Water: This can wash out protective substances, especially at a higher temperature. For example, a bath can induce swelling, as the hot water affects the vasodilation of vessels in your skin, and the stratum corneum becomes waterlogged.
Surface-active substances: Soaps and cleansing agents can be a significant problem for your skin, as surfactants wash away the natural fatty substances and your acid mantle and form holes in the structure of the barrier layers.
Emulsifiers: These can have a “wash-out” effect on your skin. Emulsifiers are used in formulae to stabilise a mixture of oils and water in the form of an emulsion that transports fatty acids into your skin. Emulsifiers stay in your skin and will not degrade.
Upon contact with water or partial cleansing, your skin reactivates the emulsifiers, which again transport natural barrier substances, this time out of your skin.
This process is very harmful, especially to dry, sensitive skin types and those with eczema or psoriasis, rosacea and other sensitivities.
What Should I look for in a Barrier Repair Product
The Superstar Ingredients
Four SUPERSTAR components will help your skin’s repair mechanism do its job, all of which can be found in our products: Phosphatidylcholine or soy lecithin.
Ceramides: These are essential for the healthy organisation of our tissues into structures; they are responsible for keeping the barrier repair mechanism of our skin functioning well, preventing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and keeping bad things out.
Ceramides are found in our skin at a concentration of about 50%. A decrease due to exposure to different temperatures or the natural decline in their production as we age decreases the efficacy of the stratum corneum’s ability to keep water in and other things out.
Cholesterol plays an essential role in your skin – it is one of the most common lipids in our body, giving the structure and fluidity of our cells, and is an integral component of the “mortar” that sits between our cells. Young and healthy skin has a thick “mortar” with no cracks.
As we age, cholesterol levels in our skin decrease by as much as 40% by the time we reach the age of 40. The result is a thinner mortar and a dilapidated brick wall, which leads to premature ageing.
Fatty acids: We love using them in our formulas; they bring many benefits to the skin.
How do they work for barrier function? Our skin’s lipid matrix comprises about 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids, so they are crucial to the proper function of your stratum corneum. Let’s take a look at each one in detail and how they help in a formula to create that all-important barrier cream.
Without it, you can experience a severe essential fatty acid deficiency, leading to increased water loss, dryness, inflammation, and breakouts.
Linoleic acid is one of the fatty acids crucial to cellular function yet cannot be biologically synthesised by our bodies. We have to get it from outside sources, which is why it is an “essential” fatty acid.
We find what many manufacturers don’t realise is that Linoleic Acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, so most of the oils in their formulations have short shelf lives and go rancid – this includes sunflower oil and, sadly, rosehip seed oil – that is unless you are purchasing the Co2 oil.
What Naked Chemist Products include these?
As discussed above, a significant prerequisite is that these ingredients are added in the perfect ratios; when they are, they can copy the physical properties of your skin’s barrier structure.
The Naked Chemist uses skin science combined with skin-identical ingredients that may be missing from your skin, which will help to repair your skin’s barrier function.
The results and feedback from our clients have been fantastic.
Cleanse with miracle cleanse following layer Bio under Fortify, and at night, introduce Ceramide balm and watch your barrier function go through the roof.
This seriously is next-level skincare at its best.
What’s Not in The Naked Chemist?
Equally as important when it comes to barrier repair ingredients are those that will disrupt the barrier:
- perfumes and some essential oils: These can cause severe irritation on your skin
- mineral oils: These can affect the natural production of your skin’s protective substances
- amines: These can stress your skin
- Silicones affect your skin’s ability to make protective substances.
- Alcohols and actives can strip your barrier and alter the pH, causing inflammation and sensitivity.
Being free of these ingredients allows the products to have a proactive and positive effect on your skin, preventing a breakdown of your skin’s natural defence system by protecting the acid mantle, regenerating skin cells, and improving hydration.
To Conclude. The naked truth
The point here is that, traditionally, skincare products focus on adding new ingredients to the skin. But we believe; instead, we should turn our attention to replenishing what should naturally be there with elements that match the composition of our skin – you can read more about skin-identical ingredients here.
Compared to ingredients that are too active or harsh and have no place on the skin, as they only lead to irritation and a compromised barrier, we have seen some beautiful results on our clients with these formulas – especially regarding skin penetration, repair, and regeneration.
So, why not treat your skin using “like with like” and give it a dose of what it needs?