Find out why your skin barrier function is important and how you can keep it healthy.
As its name suggests, the skin’s moisture barrier is your first line of defence against external threats. It consists of the epidermis, which is made up of five layers including the outermost layer of your skin known as the stratum corneum. This has your skin’s toughest job, protecting your body. When it is at its healthiest, it will keep bad things like pollution and pathogens out and good things like moisture in. It’s made up of lipids (oils), fatty acids and ceramides, which it needs to function properly.
1. What can damage your skin barrier function?
Your skin barrier function is faced with a number of external and internal threats on a daily basis. Allergens, irritants and pollutants can all affect the balance of the stratum corneum, plus very cold weather, strong winds and UV exposure can damage skin too. Your lifestyle and age can also have an impact on your skin barrier function. Your skin thins with age and a thinner barrier is a weaker one. Over-exfoliation and over-washing as well as using the wrong skincare products can all strip your skin of moisture and disrupt its barrier function. At Kiehl's skin health is imperative and we've developed our Instant Skin Reader which will help you to find the right routine personalised to your skin type. At all Kiehl’s stores, we offer a complementary skin analysis with our Healthy Skin Assessment Tool to evaluate the hydration and skin barrier strength levels of your skin. Plus, some Kiehl’s stores offer complimentary Derma Reader Skin Analysis, this advanced skin analysis tool has been developed with dermatologists and will give your skin a multi aspects analysis with a recommendation of a routine personalised to your skin conditions, you can book at the store nearest you here. Discover more information about all in-store Kiehl’s skin services here.
2. How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged?
A healthy skin barrier function will retain moisture and stay hydrated, which will mean skin looks younger and more radiant. An impaired moisture barrier function will do the opposite and can leave you with sensitive skin and a tight, dry and dull-looking complexion. You may experience uncomfortable dry skin, tightness and itchiness, redness, flaky skin or breakouts, so it’s well worth focusing on strengthening your skin barrier. You can read all about that here.
3. How to cleanse skin without stripping the moisture barrier
Ineffective cleansing can compromise your skin barrier, so choose a gentle but efficient cleanser such as our Ultra Facial Hydrating Concentrated Cleansing Bar. Formulated to respect and work with the skin’s moisture barrier, this ultra-mild, hydrating bar cleanser lathers from a solid cream texture into a nourishing foam. It gently, yet effectively removes impurities without stripping the skin, leaving skin feeling clean and comfortable. Follow your cleanser with our soothing Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, this alcohol-free bestseller is ideal for normal to oily skin types, and sensitive skin too. It helps to soothe aggravated skin and reduces visible blotchiness and surface oil.
4. What products will help to keep the skin barrier healthy?
To avoid weakening your skin barrier function avoid harsh, stripping skincare and stock up on ceramide-rich products and hydrating formulas. A healthy barrier is a hydrated one.
For a targeted dose of hydration to help fortify your skin’s barrier function, try a face mask like our Ultra Facial Overnight Rehydrating Mask with 10.5% Squalane. Ideal for skin that feels tight or dry, or for skin types that are in need of a serious dose of moisture thanks to extreme weather conditions, stress or even hormone fluctuations. This deeply hydrating mask infused with 10.5% squalane and glacial glycoprotein, helps to lock in moisture overnight and fortify the skin’s moisture barrier, so you wake up to smooth, hydrated and strong skin.
During the day, ensure skin is well hydrated and protected with our bestselling, global favourite Ultra Facial Cream. Light, refreshing and super hydrating, it soothes skin, prevents water loss and provides up to 24-hour hydration even in extreme weather conditions.
To help soothe skin that feels sensitive as a result of impaired skin barrier function, apply our new Ultra Facial Advanced Barrier Cream. With the healing power of a balm yet the comfortable texture of a daily moisturiser, this unique new cream provides instant relief to uncomfortable damaged skin and prevents moisture loss, while quickly re-building and repairing. It packs a soothing punch without aggravating any skin issues. Colloidal oatmeal instantly relieves itchiness, while beta-glucan, a reparative humectant pulls water into the skin and works to heal chapped skin. This highly efficient barrier cream helps to relieve discomfort for many skin conditions, including post-procedure wounds and wind burn. It is suitable for use on lips, eyes, neck – anywhere that needs a dose of powerful hydration and repair, so it's good to keep one in your bag to keep skin healthy while out and about.
5. What’s the easiest way to protect the moisture barrier?
First up, keep skin protected from damage with our Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream, ideal if you already need to repair damage, but also as a preventive measure. Apply if you’re heading out in cold, windy conditions. Secondly, and always an essential, there’s no substitute for daily SPF. Protecting your skin from the damaging rays of the sun is key to keeping the skin moisture barrier healthy. Try our Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++ a non-comedogenic sunscreen with a comfortable lightweight texture. Apply every day for advanced UVA/UVB protection, and always ensure you remove it in the evening with a cleanser and replenish before skin starts its night-time repair cycle.