Skin Conditions | Sensitive Skin

Why Your Barrier Function

Like a security guard, your barrier prevents invading allergens, protecting what lies within
The weakness of this protection is the underlying cause of skin conditions.

Do you suffer from inflammation, redness, or irritation?

Or maybe eczema, psoriasis or acne inflammation is a concern?

These are all signs your skin’s barrier is compromised.

Which is the reason for that underlying sensitivity.

It may not look like it on the surface, but your skin is constantly hard at work;

Its most challenging job is at the uppermost layer, the skin barrier.

Like a security guard for your skin, it prevents allergens from passing through and protects what lies within

The weakness of this shield is the underlying cause of your sensitive skin.

So let’s dive in and see what is happening so you can learn how to treat your skin correctly.

Sensitive Skin Concerns

In this series, we have discussed sensitive skin in depth, which you can read here.

But to recap, these are the type of questions our clients have about their sensitive skin issues.

  • my skin is red, inflamed and irritated
  • all products that I apply sting, so I don’t know what to use to help heal my skin
  • I have to keep my skincare routine very simple
  • I try to use products created for sensitive skin, but my skin still feels irritated
  • my sensitive skin has started to get worse in my 40s
  • my doctor prescribed me hydrocortisone, but it has made my skin too sensitive

After treating many clients with these concerns, I don’t doubt that many products and treatments are too aggressive and impair their skin’s protective moisture barrier.

Instead, we recommend using natural, gentle, wildcrafted botanicals instead.

Your Barrier Function

To truly understand your sensitive skin and how to treat it, you have to understand what is meant by the term barrier function,

Why? Because your sensitive skin is due to a compromised barrier. At some point, it has become impaired, as this study discusses (1).

The stratum corneum is a specialised layer that forms the outermost part of our epidermis (your outer layer of skin.

It is a vital front line that protects you against environmental assaults, UV, pollution, bacteria, chemicals, infection, etc. On a more superficial note, it’s the skin that we can see, making it important from a cosmetic viewpoint.

This barrier function comprises lipids, ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids; imagine that your cells are like bricks in a wall, and the cement holds these bricks together.

This complex layer of materials contains inter-cellular lipids, which prevent foreign bodies and irritants from entering; it also protects against water loss and dehydration; here at NC, we refer to it as your protective barrier.

In the same way, cement fills these spaces between the bricks, your skin has essential lipids that fill the gaps between the skin cells, preventing foreign bodies from entering your skin.

Imagine you just DROPPED LEMON on a CUT you have on your skin; it hurts! This is because your skin’s intercellular matrix has become impaired.

This is precisely what happens when your skin becomes inflamed or irritated, releasing a cascade of inflammation.

The Difference Between a Healthy and Impaired Barrier

Healthy barrier function: When your protective barrier is intact, your skin is healthy, and rarely anything invades or penetrates your protective barrier.

An impaired barrier function is when your skin’s barrier function becomes impaired, allowing irritants to penetrate your skin.

If you remember that cut you sustained and lemon juice lemon, I’m sure you can relate to how citric acid will burn your skin.

This is because tiny micro tears have formed in your skin, as this study showed (2), allowing irritants and moisture to escape from your skin.

This can lead to a whole host of skin conditions and inflammation, causing your once-healthy cells to become sensitised.

For more in-depth reading on your protective barrier function, our article barrier repair is the key to outrageously healthy skin; is worth a read if you are concerned about your sensitive skin issues.

Healing Your Barrier Will Eliminate Sensitivity.

When your skin barrier function works well, it will retain water effectively and maintain good hydration and pH balance.

It will look more youthful and radiant as a consequence. This means it contains the right amount of lipids and the right amount of natural moisturising factor, keeping your skin happy and healthy.

To conclude. The naked truth 

When your skin barrier is compromised, your skin will look dry, dull and scaly.

It is hard to keep inflammation out, so chemicals can penetrate more readily and potentially cause inflammation, which manifests as skin sensitivity.

You may experience stinging or redness, especially when using certain skincare ingredients.

It’s a never-ending cycle, too, because, as you will know, once you’ve reacted to a product, your skin’s uppermost layer is compromised, giving way to the potential for even more problems.

Worse still, those steroid creams you have been prescribed can cause skin thinning, which, whilst it may seem like reducing inflammation, leaves your skin vulnerable to further irritants.

So you have to build up your all-important surface layer? And prevent foreign bodies such as bacteria, allergens, and irritants, yep, including lemon juice, from entering your skin.

When your lipid barrier is intact, your skin will be healthy and free from inflammation, irritation, and dryness.

So, it is crucial to look after your protective barrier function.
Which is what skin health is all about.


1. Analysis of sensitive skin barrier function: basic indicators and sebum composition

2. Sensitive Skin: Assessment of the Skin Barrier

6 replies on “Why Your Barrier Function”

“Skin is plump and hydrated because water stays in the tissues, and skin tone and texture is completely free from redness”

I agree with this, but unfortunately my skin was damaged with strong astringent ingredients. It look dehydrated, redness, open pores,thin skin, burning feel. How can you recommend a solution, thank you.


Please check out my last two articles it covers they cover this in detail and my solution i do hope this helps with your impaired skin, it has certainly helped many of my clients. and
Please also look out for my soon to be released products especially fortify barrier repair cream, SOS and pH acid mantle complex and bio lipid complex really important formulas for repairing an impaired barrier…Good luck Samantha

I too am in a similar situation as Mr.king. Could you pass on the info you sent to him regarding acid mantle restoration please/
Thank you in advance!
Paul Howard

Hi, Please Help!!! I cant bare nor afford to purchase or put my faith in anymore products. Can you recommend something I can do at home or a natural/holistic way to restore my acid mantle? My skin looks horrible. Its tight and dry due to several self administered glycolic peels. Ive completely stripped it unfortunately. Any moisturizers I use seem to just sit on my skin and not absorb. What would you recommend? At this point Ive decided to not use anything and only rinse with water

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