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Understanding the Vital Role of Your Skin Barrier: Nurturing and Restoring its Health After Damage

April 11, 2024

While the beauty industry often highlights the latest serums and creams, there's a critical component that deserves our attention: the skin barrier. This often-overlooked aspect of skincare is not just a layer of protection but a complex system that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy and radiant skin, especially as we age. For women and men over 30, understanding and nurturing the skin barrier is essential for achieving long-term skin health and beauty. Let's delve deeper into what the skin barrier is, how it functions, and how we can protect and repair it to maintain a youthful glow and confidence at every stage of life.

What is the skin barrier?

The skin barrier isn't a single layer, but rather a sophisticated orchestration of cells and lipids (oils) residing in the outermost layer of our skin, the stratum corneum. It acts as a vital interface between our internal environment and the external world. Here's how it works its magic:

The functions of our skin barrier

Defence system

Our skin barrier shields us from environmental aggressors like pollution, UV rays, wind, allergens, and harsh chemicals. It also plays a crucial role in preventing pathogens like bacteria from entering the body.

Moisture management

Our skin retains essential moisture within the skin, contributing to a smoother, more youthful appearance.

Microbiome guardian

Our skin barrier plays a vital role in maintaining a balanced skin microbiome, the community of microorganisms that reside on our skin's surface. This delicate ecosystem plays a role in immune function and overall skin health.

How the skin barrier gets damaged

Harsh cosmetic products

Soaps, toners containing alcohol, abrasive exfoliators, and harsh cleansers - especially those containing sulfates (sodium laurel sulfate) - can dry out your skin by stripping away its natural oils, disrupting the skin barrier.

Sun damage

Sun exposure over time disrupts the structure of the skin barrier, leading to increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which causes dehydration.

Weather conditions

Cold, windy weather can stress the skin barrier.

Hormonal changes

Oestrogen, a key hormone for maintaining skin health, naturally declines once we age and approach menopause. This can lead to a decrease in oil production, weakening the skin barrier and contributing to dryness.

Lifestyle factors

Stress, poor sleep, poor diet, smoking, and hot showers can all weaken the skin barrier.

Signs of a damaged skin barrier

Signs that your skin barrier may be damaged include skin redness, inflammation, itching, and heightened sensitivity. This condition often manifests as dryness, accompanied by a tight sensation on the skin. Additionally, a damaged skin barrier may lead to increased acne breakouts and delayed wound healing.

The skin barrier and rosacea or acne

Studies show that individuals with rosacea or acne exhibit changes within the skin barrier resulting from inflammation. A damaged skin barrier has a reduced ability to attract and retain water, leading to dry skin. Dry skin, along with a disrupted skin barrier, allows irritants and bacteria to penetrate more easily, triggering further inflammation—a vicious cycle.

Can the skin barrier repair itself?

Proper care can help restore and repair the skin barrier, alleviating symptoms and inflammation. Here are some tips:

Gentle cleansing

Use mild cleansers that preserve the skin’s natural oils. Cleansing balms, such as Amaranthine's cleanser for sensitive skin, made with natural ingredients like botanical oils and butters, effectively cleanse without stripping natural oils, nourishing and softening the skin. Always use warm water rather than hot water in the cleansing process as very hot water can also disrupt the skin barrier.

Moisturise every day

Choose moisturisers with hydrating and skin barrier-strengthening ingredients like Amaranthine's natural face moisturiser, containing botanical oils and butters rich in fatty acids to improve hydration and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Lifestyle tweaks

Maintain a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Prioritise good sleep and stress management for overall skin health.

By nurturing our skin barrier, we invest in the foundation of healthy, resilient skin, embracing beauty and confidence. Looking for skincare products that nurture your skin barrier? Amaranthine, a Glasgow-based natural skincare company, offers luxurious products that are gentle on your skin barrier.



National Rosacea Society

American Academy of Dermatology Association

Natural skincare brand Amaranthine's founder, Sarah Rueger.

Sarah Rueger

About the author

Sarah is the founder of certified palm oil free natural skincare brand Amaranthine. She is a qualified organic skincare formulator and has diplomas in Beauty Therapy and Clinical Aromatherapy.