Stress, hormone fluctuations, and environmental factors impact your skin barrier more than you may know. Why does this matter?
The absence of proper protection and care of the outer most layer of your skin—specifically, the stratum corneum comprised of tough skin cells and lipids—will eventuate in damage to your skin and overall health.
The aging process requires the need to consistently compensate for what the body begins to significantly underproduce. Through mineral and vitamin-rich foods and the adoption of a customized skin care maintenance and/or repair routine, your barrier will benefit from daily engagement of these best practices.
So, what is the science behind the skin barrier and its importance to skin function? We spoke with Mamina Turegano, MD, FAAD, a triple board-certified dermatologist, internist, and dermatopathologist, based in Metairie, Louisiana.
What is the skin barrier?
"The skin barrier serves two main functions: A. It prevents outside harmful environmental toxins/pollutants and pathogens from getting into the skin. B. It blocks water from leaving the skin.
In terms of basic skin anatomy, the top layer of skin is called the epidermis, and the outermost layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum. This stratum corneum is often compared to a brick wall. It is composed of flattened skin cells called corneocytes (the bricks) embedded in a matrix of lipids, like ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids (the mortar). The stratum corneum is maintained at an acidic pH (between 4.5 to 6). The stratum corneum serves as the primary barrier between the skin and the environment."
How should one better protect their skin from head to toe?
"I recommend minimizing practices that can aggravate the skin. They include hot showers, over washing or over cleansing, over exfoliating, using harsh chemicals without skin protection (cleaning products), using products with a lot of fragrance, not using a humidifier in dry, cold weather. Stress can also affect your skin barrier.
In addition to sunscreen, I recommend moisturizing regularly. The ideal time to moisturize is immediately after bathing on damp skin."
As you age, are there specific ingredients that help to maintain skin function?
"I love niacinamide, ceramides, glycerin, and colloidal oatmeal as ingredients to look for in a moisturizer to help keep the skin barrier intact. Other ingredients that can help keep collagen healthy are retinoids, peptides, antioxidants (like Vitamin C), and growth factors are also beneficial."
How does water on the skin impact the skin barrier?
"Overexposure to water, taking long showers or long baths, can strip away the natural lipid barrier on our skin. Excessive skin hydration can lead to increase permeability and render the skin more sensitive to potential contact allergens are irritants."
For recommendations of products to help maintain and repair the skin barrier click here.
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