Protective skincare is a growing interest among consumers in the US. Spate, a market research company, said protective is currently the top-growing searched-for benefit alongside skincare. Searches for protective skincare have grown 101.9% in the last 12 months and this growth aligns with the increasing concerns about the skin barrier – a YoY growth of +22.7%. Brands should take this opportunity to develop products with anti-pollution benefits/claims in skin care, body care, hair care and sun care products. Remember this past spring during the great NY smoke haze of 2023? That’s where an anti-pollution product can come into play to help protect your skin barrier.
What is the skin barrier?
Your skin has several layers, each with its own function. The outer layer, known as the stratum corneum or skin barrier, is structured like a brick wall – the bricks being your corneocytes are being held up by mortar, which in the skin is a lipid membrane made up of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This brick wall is your barrier between your deeper layers of skin, internal organs, and the external environment. Your skin barrier is your first line of defense from external insults such as pollution, toxins, and infections and has a role in temperature regulation and water loss through the skin. Without the skin barrier, infections, chemicals, allergens, and many other harmful environmental aggressors could enter the body.
Your skin barrier can help keep harmful aggressors at bay, but it can still become damaged by internal and external causes like:
- Sun exposure
- Environmental allergens and pollution
- Skincare products and soaps that strip away your natural moisture and oils from the skin
- Alkaline products that disrupt your skin’s pH levels
- Dry air or low humidity
- Psychological stress
- Skin conditions – eczema, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis
When your skin barrier is damaged you may see and feel dryness, rough scaly patches or flaking skin, and increased skin infections along with increased allergic reactions and inflammation.
How to repair the skin barrier
Change your skincare habits. Damaged skin barrier is losing moisture, so replenishing it can help repair. Using a thick moisturizer daily is important for restoring skin barrier function. Look for a moisturizer with the following ingredients:
- Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin (attracts water to the skin to keep deeper layer hydrated)
- Ceramides, which restore fat content and help prevent water loss
- Occlusive moisturizers that sit on the top layer of the skin and act like the skin barrier
Protecting your skin barrier by moisturizing daily can help prevent skin barrier damage. Daily behaviors that can help prevent skin barrier damage include:
- Using a board spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30
- Avoiding hot showers, instead take short lukewarm showers and moisturize immediately after to lock in the hydration
- Avoiding physical exfoliants like harsh scrubs and using gentle soaps and moisturizing washes
- Adding an antioxidant to your skincare routine like vitamin C
- Avoiding prolonged cold weather exposure and dry heat.
It’s important to keep in mind that your skin is not immune to damage. Take the necessary precautions and pay attention to your skin’s needs to safeguard your skin barrier from harm or additional damage.