Dry Skin

The Key to Strengthening Your Protective Barrier is Lipids

Tightness? Flaking? Redness?

Hello, and welcome to your dry skin.

It just feels out of sorts all of the time.

On the more dramatic end, this kind of skin gets itchy and sensitised easily.

And we hear you.

Your skin never appears satisfied despite relentlessly applying moisturiser morning, noon, and night.

But wait, don’t despair; there is a miracle cure.

That’s right, in the form of luscious natural lipids.

Where Can I Find Lipids?

In just about everything from cleansers and oil-based serums to moisturisers and balms.

You can also find them occurring naturally in your skin.

My Skin?

Yep, your skin, where they are found naturally in the form of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids, all of which make up your skin’s protective barrier function.

50% ceramides: These help to maintain the water permeability of your barrier function
25% cholesterol: These keep your skin soft and supple, preventing expression lines from forming
10% fatty acids: These help to maintain the health of your skin, keeping the cellular membranes intact

These ingredients are clever little fellows.

They fulfil essential functions. They prevent desiccation—a more technical term for extreme dryness—and they form the mortar to hold your cells in place, creating a protective barrier and preventing water evaporation.

When skin cells aren’t densely packed, your skin becomes vulnerable to conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and loss of elasticity, which can cause lines and wrinkles.

In addition to keeping your cells in place, this mortar, the extracellular matrix, is filled with oily, fatty molecules that form a physical barrier from the outside world—locking moisture in and keeping irritants out.

This barrier prevents water from evaporating from the skin, which is critical for plump, moisturised skin.

How do I Know if my Skin Lacks Lipids?

Dryness, stinging, burning, flaking, roughness, itching, and inflammation.

All of these sensations indicate a reduction in the critical lipids in your skin, leading to skin conditions such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and dry skin conditions like ichthyosis Vulgaris.

Ageing can also affect the composition of the lipids in your skin; this study (1) found a significant decline in ceramide and sterol components in mature skin.

If you ever notice you have winter skin, and your skin tends to feel dryer during seasonal changes, these changes can impact the lipids in the skin, causing dryness, roughness, and increased trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL),

Regardless of age, your skin routine should keep inflammation and irritation out of your skin, as this is the number one cause of premature ageing.

What is the Extracellular Matrix?

No article would be complete without discussing the extracellular matrix and its role in your barrier function.

So far, we have established that when your skin starts to dry out, it appears dull, rough, and dry. It may often have a matte appearance and a rough texture. It no longer feels soft and supple. This is technically referred to in the beauty industry as lipid-dry skin.

The extracellular matrix comprises fibrous proteins like collagen, elastin, and fatty acids; these molecules keep your skin healthy, moisturised and balanced.

It is important to note that your extracellular matrix isn’t static throughout your life; its composition and lipids decrease as you age.

This is in part due to external factors like sun damage, stress, using harsh skincare products;

When they do, your barrier is compromised, so you must replenish them topically to form the border between your cells and the outside world.

What are Lipids?

They are ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids—this study (2) found that they work well in a ratio of 3:1:1.

If your skin is dry, sensitised or inflamed, topically using these ingredients will help fill the intercellular cement between the gaps in your cells, delivering the all-important lipids exactly where your skin requires them.

The Naked Chemist products are formulated with gorgeous fatty acids, including ceramide, cholesterol, and fatty acids in a 3:1:1 ratio, designed to mimic the membrane structure of your skin’s barrier function.

Fortify Barrier Repair cream does just that—a moisturiser that works with your skin and not against it.

Xcell Barrier Repair Oil contains the exact ratio of these important essential fatty acids that help to fill the intercellular gaps, healing an impaired barrier.

To conclude. The naked truth

When you use lipids in your skincare, you treat ‘like with like’.

You are naturally slowing water loss through your skin whilst accelerating cellular repair processes in your skin.

You are also building a robust and healthy barrier against internal and environmental factors that can lead to dry, dehydrated and prematurely aged skin.

With all this skin-loving goodness, you’ll agree that lipids should become a staple in your skincare routine.

Introduce ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids into your skincare routine to support your skin’s natural function and ward off signs of ageing now and for many years to come.


1. Stratum corneum lipids: the effect of ageing and the seasons.

2. Optimal ratios of topical stratum corneum lipids improve barrier recovery in chronologically aged skin.

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