Skin barrier function: Why less is more

13 January 2023

If your skin is desert dry this January no matter what expensive potions you throw at it, or your sensitive skin is always behaving badly, your skin barrier might be compromised.

Skin can be ashy or flaky and feel irritated (or sting) after any chemical formula is applied – or thanks to overzealous use of actives. You might also experience acne breakouts, rosacea, and eczema. The skin might appear redder or darker than its original colour; itchiness is a common symptom.

The phrase ‘skin barrier’ is plastered all over our lotions and potions, constantly mentioned in the press, and when it comes to visiting a dermatologist, it’s all they’ll talk about.

Skin barrier health is trending, with #skinbarrier garnering a mammoth 2.5 billion views on TikTok and a casual 187.5 million views on the search term “skin barrier repair”.

And despite the fact beauty is full of buzzwords that go out of fashion just as quickly as they come in, we can assure you that the concept of nurturing your skin barrier isn't going anywhere. A well-functioning skin barrier is probably one of the most important components of healthy skin. It’s the very thing responsible for how your skin looks and feels.

“The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that serves as a protective shield for your face,” said Montagne Jeunesse’s Head of Labs, David English. “Its role is to protect your skin from environmental stressors, irritation, and inflammation while holding on to all the good stuff.

“Technically, your skin barrier is called the stratum corneum, the most superficial layer of your epidermis. The stratum corneum is filled with a whole system of cells and lipids that form a barrier to keep your skin healthy. The cells, or corneocytes, are the bricks in your skin barrier, while the mortar is made of various lipids, like cholesterol and ceramides. And each piece is vital in keeping the ecosystem of your face happy.”

Keratin, a protein inside skin cells, makes up the skin cells and, along with other proteins, sticks together to form your epidermis. As well as keeping bacteria and germs from entering your body and bloodstream and causing infections, the epidermis also protects against rain, sun and other elements and continually makes new skin cells to replace the approximately 40,000 old skin cells that your body sheds every day.

While most of us do our best to care for our skin, some of our good intentions are what’s causing our skin serious harm, and yes, your 20-step skincare routine is likely one of those things.

Skin barrier aggressors are everywhere, but the most overwhelmingly common reason for impairment is the overuse of actives and using too many products simultaneously. The skin becomes overwhelmed, and, as a result, the barrier becomes compromised.

“We tend to think more is better,” added English. “But first, you should identify and exclude any triggers contributing to skin barrier damage. Strip your skincare routine back and keep it simple. Your skincare routine should include a gentle face wash in the morning and night, a hydrating face mask, but - most importantly - a rich barrier-repair cream.”

At Montagne Jeunesse, we’re obsessed with skin barrier and believe strongly that it’s impossible to have great-looking skin when this natural, watertight seal is compromised. A damaged barrier can no longer hang on to the good stuff like fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides, so skin is left rough, dehydrated, sometimes sensitive, and flat looking.

The Earth Kiss Inspirations Hydrating Organic Bamboo Sheet Face Mask with Shilajit and Miracle Clay is an express train to a radiant complexion and a luminescent glow!

Traditionally used for thousands of years as an analgesic to relieve pain and injuries, the high salicylic content of willow tree bark acts as a potent antidote to the pain, swelling and redness associated with skin sensitivity. A natural exfoliant that is used in many treatments to promote pore-clearing and the shedding of dead skin cells, the natural hydroxy acids in willow bark combine with mineral-rich salts from the Dead Sea and the Ayurvedic wonder resin, Shilajit, to help unclog pores and smooth the appearance of fine lines, all while hydrating the skin.

The Earth Kiss SuperNaturals Kombucha and Turmeric Detoxifying Clay Face Mask brightens your complexion and removes toxins, helping promote a healthy skin barrier.

Long-known throughout Russia and Asia as an “immortal elixir,” Kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years for its health-promoting, body-energising and detoxifying properties.

Created by infusing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast - known as a SCOBY - into sugared black or green tea, the gut-healthy probiotics and vitamins that have made Kombucha a popular drink of late are now proving themselves to be just as beneficial when applied topically on facial skin.

In the same way that the probiotics in Kombucha improve your gut microbiome's health, scientists have found that these friendly microbes can also enhance the appearance, texture, and overall health of facial skin by balancing out harmful bacteria and boosting production of the good kind. It contains vitamins B1, B6, B12 and vitamin C to help support cellular function and alleviate oxidative damage.

“By harnessing the power of natural ingredients, you can maximise the seasonal support your skin requires,” English continued. “We are committed to making safe, clean products that deliver real results, free of ingredients linked to harmful health effects. Beyond that, we care for the environment, prioritising ethically sourced ingredients, non-animal origin, and cruelty free; we use sustainable or renewable biobased sources wherever possible.”

On any given day, a person will lather, rub, and spray on their body ten or more items. And the one thing we can control is the products we put on our skin.

As a trusted brand, we work closely with third-party certification agencies like the Soil Association, COSMOS, Cruelty Free International and PETA to ensure that every single ingredient is safe for your skin, our furry friends and the planet.

Create your curated self-care routine now on the Superdrug Marketplace

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