Sensitive Skin | Oily Skin & Acne | Impaired barrier | Dry Skin

Barrier Repair: the Key to Outrageously Healthy Skin

Barrier repair is a vital yet often overlooked skincare aspect.

It serves as the frontline defence between your body and the external environment.

Comparable to a diligent security guard.

Your skin’s barrier works tirelessly to prevent potential irritants from penetrating.

The great thing is that it also safeguards everything within.

Neglecting this crucial function can lead to various skin conditions.

In our comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of barrier function.

To equip you with the knowledge needed for achieving and maintaining healthy, balanced skin.

Barrier Repair Problems

The skin is the body’s largest organ, a crucial interface between the internal body systems and the external environment.

Its primary function is to protect and support the body’s internal structures, making it essential for overall health and well-being.

When the skin’s barrier becomes compromised, many problems can arise, including dryness, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, inflammation, premature ageing, dehydration, sensitivity, and redness.

These issues affect the skin’s appearance and can also impact its functionality, leading to discomfort and potential health complications.

Surprisingly, our clinic’s observations show that approximately 60% of individuals suffer from an impaired barrier.

Maintaining a healthy balance within the skin is key to preserving its youthful, supple, and firm qualities, ensuring optimal protection and vitality.

Natural Barrier Repair

The term “natural barrier” refers to the protective function of the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the epidermis.

This layer serves as both a physical and chemical barrier, with two primary roles: preventing the penetration of allergens and bacteria into the skin and minimising water loss through a process known as trans-epidermal water loss.

The stratum corneum consists of multiple layers of flattened cells called corneocytes, surrounded by an oily, water-repellent coating.

This coating, comprised of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids, forms an impermeable membrane that protects the skin from environmental aggressors such as bacteria and UV radiation.

Building and maintaining a strong natural barrier is essential for overall skin health and resilience, protecting against various external stressors.

Understanding the Natural Barrier 

Your barrier function is found in the stratum corneum, a specialised layer that forms the epidermis’s outermost part of your skin.

This layer functions as both a physical and chemical barrier; its role is twofold:

  1. To prevent penetration from invading allergens and bacteria.
  2. To avoid water evaporation, referred to as trans-epidermal water loss.

It is made of multiple stacks of flattened cells called corneocytes; there are layers upon layers of dead skin cells that are surrounded by an oily, water-repellent coating.

They provide a formidable barrier to water outflow and an impermeable membrane to the environment.

This oily environment comprises 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 10% fatty acids, essential lipids crucial for regular barrier repair. We discuss this subject in greater detail here.

Your barrier is a vital front line that protects you from environmental assaults, including bacterial infection, UV, and more.

Sensitive or not, building up your skin’s outer barrier gives your skin the increased resilience that we fragile folk so desperately require.

How is My Skin’s Barrier Function Formed?

The formation of your skin’s barrier function involves a complex process known as keratinisation. As new cells are formed, old cells migrate upward through the layers of the skin.

During this journey, they become cut off from their nutrient supply and produce a rugged, waterproof protein called keratin. This process is crucial because keratin provides your skin with resilience and strength.

Within the cells undergoing keratinisation, lamellar bodies produce complex fatty materials, or lipids, essential for maintaining the skin barrier.

These lipids are deposited between the skin cells, forming a matrix that helps to keep the barrier intact.

The proper mixture and organisation of these lipids in the space between the corneocytes are essential for maintaining healthy skin.

This barrier function is vital for protecting the skin from external aggressors and maintaining overall skin health and integrity.

While understanding this process may involve some technical terminology, it is essential for comprehending barrier repair and promoting skin wellness.

This video explains your skin’s keratinisation process.

Why the Barrier Become Weak?

Aside from environmental stressors, several factors can contribute to weakening the skin barrier. Age is a significant factor, as the skin barrier weakens over time.

Essential components like ceramides, cholesterol, and humectants such as hyaluronic acid and urea can deplete with age, further compromising the barrier function.

Additionally, individuals with certain skin types, such as Celtic skin, may naturally have a thinner barrier, making them more prone to issues like rashes, redness, and irritation.

Strengthening the skin’s barrier function is crucial for improving its appearance and increasing resilience, particularly for those with fragile skin.

A healthy barrier function maintains the right balance of lipids and natural moisturising factors (NMF), allowing the skin to retain water effectively, resulting in a dewy, plump, and radiant complexion.

However, various skin conditions can arise when the barrier is impaired, including dryness, flaking, tightness, redness, and itchiness.

Skin inflammation often occurs when the barrier breaks down, leading to heightened sensitivity and susceptibility to irritants. Itchiness is another common symptom of barrier damage, which can further exacerbate inflammation and redness when scratched.

This cycle of skin barrier impairment and reaction to irritants can become persistent, leading to ongoing skin issues.

Moreover, steroid creams, commonly prescribed for severe inflammation and eczema, can thin the skin over time, making it more vulnerable to further irritant damage.

Therefore, addressing barrier repair and maintenance is essential to promote healthy, resilient skin.

What can Upset My Barrier Function?

Several factors can disrupt your skin’s barrier function, leading to various issues. Here are some common culprits to be aware of:

Overcomplicated Routines: Simplify your beauty regimen to avoid overwhelming your skin. Harsh astringents containing alcohol and surfactants can strip away your skin’s natural oils, leaving it dry and vulnerable to irritation.

Active Acids: Avoid using strong acids like glycolic and salicylic acids, as they can remove the top layers of your skin, compromising the barrier function.

Exfoliants: Be cautious with exfoliants, especially those with harsh scrubbing particles, as they can cause micro-tears in the skin, leading to further damage.

Invasive Treatments: Procedures like micro-needling can disrupt the skin barrier, potentially causing irreversible damage.

Environmental Conditions: Exposure to extreme weather conditions such as cold, heat, dry air, and wind can damage the barrier lipids and weaken the skin’s protective layer.

Sun Damage: Cumulative sun exposure can affect cellular renewal cycles, impacting the formation of barrier lipids and compromising the skin’s barrier function.

Winter Months: Unprotected skin during winter can become dehydrated due to the destruction of barrier oils, leading to further barrier impairment.

Harsh Soaps and Detergents: Using harsh soaps or high-foaming detergents can strip away the skin’s protective sebum and break down barrier lipids, leaving the skin vulnerable to damage.

Over-Exfoliation: Excessive exfoliation and harsh peels can strip away the outer layer of skin cells and deplete barrier oils, weakening the skin’s protective barrier.

Genetic Conditions and Skin Disorders: Certain genetic conditions and skin disorders, like psoriasis, can negatively impact barrier function, increasing susceptibility to irritation and inflammation.

Being mindful of these factors and making informed choices about your skincare routine can help maintain a healthy and resilient skin barrier.

How to Rebuild Your Barrier

Choosing skincare products containing specific barrier-repairing ingredients is crucial to restore your skin’s resilience. Here are some key components to look for:

Lipid Components

Products containing lipid components like Xcell barrier repair oil can help supplement the missing elements in damaged skin, promoting barrier repair and restoration.

Humectant Ingredients

Look for serums containing humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid and urea found in Quench. These ingredients attract water into the corneocytes, helping to hydrate and plump the skin.

Occlusive Ingredients

Occlusive ingredients such as cocoa butter create a physical barrier on the skin’s surface, sealing in moisture and preventing water loss, aiding in barrier repair. You can find these in our Barrier repair duo.

Protective Emollients

Emollient ingredients help the skin repair the damaged lipid layer through cell renewal, promoting smoother and healthier-looking skin.

Sebum-Identical Ingredients

Ingredients like jojoba and squalane mimic the composition of human sebaceous secretions, acting as lubricants on the skin’s surface and providing a smooth appearance.


Triglycerides, such as those found in castor seed oil, are highly moisturising and help replenish the skin’s lipid barrier, enhancing hydration and barrier function.

Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid is essential for maintaining barrier function and is crucial for forming the lamellar phase of the stratum corneum lipids.

When selecting skincare products, look for ingredients such as phospholipids, ceramides, cholesterol, triglycerides, squalane, jojoba, fatty acids, and phytosterols.

These ingredients have compositions similar to the membrane structure of the skin’s natural barrier, making them effective in replenishing and repairing the skin’s protective layer.

By incorporating products rich in these barrier-repairing ingredients into your skincare routine, you can support rebuilding your skin’s barrier and promote overall skin health and resilience.

To conclude. The Naked chemist

In conclusion, the skin’s barrier function is vital for maintaining overall skin health and protecting the body from external threats.

When compromised, it can lead to various skin issues, including dryness, inflammation, premature ageing, and sensitivity.

Understanding the natural barrier, its formation process and factors that can weaken it is essential for effective skincare.

To rebuild the skin’s barrier, it’s crucial to opt for well-thought-out skincare products containing barrier-repairing ingredients such as lipids, humectants, occlusives, protective emollients, sebum-identical ingredients, triglycerides, and linoleic acid.

These ingredients replenish and repair the skin’s protective layer, promoting resilience and maintaining healthy, radiant skin.

By being mindful of factors that disrupt the skin barrier and incorporating barrier-repairing ingredients into your skincare routine, you can support rebuilding your skin’s barrier, enhance its resilience, and achieve optimal skin health and vitality.

109 replies on “Barrier Repair: the Key to Outrageously Healthy Skin”

I sent an email to you about my impaired skin and your wonderful team have been so helpful and your barrier repair kit so useful very unique my skin is really healing more people should know about your range! I’m sold!

Harry, thank you for giving us this valuable feedback an impaired barrier is at the root of skin health, bu healing your barrier you can return your skin back to its youthful healthy glow.

I am in some serious help and have no idea where to begin. I started microneedling 3 years ago and this past year is when I began to notice my skin getting worse from it. But the dr I went to told me to get the Fractora RF microneedling treatment which goes 3mm deep and I went back to get spot treated around the tzone over a month after that treatment with another intense microneedling treatment. But he spot treated with a dermapen. It’s been 3 weeks since that spot treatment and now my pores and the texture of my skin is larger and just so bad. What do I even do at this point? My pores look way bigger around my nose. Did they get stretched out? Will they even ever heal? I’ve been using an aha peel by the ordinary once a week the last two weeks. Should I use retinol 1% + low does exfoliation products (glycolic acid) to fix that orange peel skin big pores/what looks like the needle scrapes across my skin? What do I do? Will my pores ever get fixed? Please please please help!

Hi Samantha
I need an emertency advice for a totally damaged skin and skin barrier following 2 laser Genesis which was supposed to be very gentle treatment. My skin is scarred, mottled, sensitive, red, bumpy, burning, changed texture, super dry and flaking, orange peel texture etc and of course aging rapidly! It has taken a toll on me that is so so so bad.

Hi Hala I’m sorry to hear this, and another treatment that has some negative side effects on some people. It depends where you sit on the Fitzpatrick scale as to whether they should or should not of treated you! Possibly not by the sounds of it. Hala my products restore the barrier, which to be frank is what you need to treat by the sounds of it. in the first instance I would recommend Fortify, ceramide and Bio lipid, possibly sos if you re getting a lot of irritation. I would also recommend getting a second opinion from a dermatologist as you may have an infection. I hope this helps good luck Samantha

Hello, I wish I had read your article earlier :(. I had skin pen needling done 3 weeks ago on a very very hot Sydney Australian weekend. I am African and have dark skin. When they did it. Soon after as I started to sweat at home I felt incredibly itchy and like my skin was raw. I called the clinic and they said this was normal. Just to put the after cafe products on. Avoid sun. Wear sunscreen etc. I did all of the above. My skin on my neck 3 weeks later still has painful dermatitis and I have dark pigmentation on my face and really dark pigmentation all over my neck. The clinic only helped me after I said I would make a complaint. They gave me hydrochloride acid serum, a light exfoliant, Tretinon baaed serum, vitamin c serum and kojic acid lightening. Im not sure what to do. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

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