What is a Skin Barrier?
We hear often about our skin barrier in skincare recently, but what exactly is a skin barrier, and how do we take care of it? Also referred to as an acid mantle, our skin barrier is made from sebum (the natural oils our skin produces), perspiration, and a microbiome of helpful bacteria on top. The fatty acids in our sebum or natural oils, mainly linoleic acid and oleic acid, act as a barrier sitting on the skin to hold in moisture, hydration, and nutrients and to keep harmful bacteria and toxins (like, from pollution) out.
Skin usually ranges from pH 4.5 to 5.5, slightly acidic (water is pH neutral at 7). People with more oily skin tend to have a lower pH, while those with more dry skin have a higher pH. Have you noticed certain cleansers coming out in the last few years marketed as ‘low pH’? A cleanser nearer to our natural pH is better because they’re less stripping of our natural oils, and thus less likely to compromise our important skin barrier. Cleansers above pH 7 are basic and are often stripping, resulting in worse dry, tight skin, and even oily skins overcompensating with even more oil production.
How can we tell if we have a compromised skin barrier? The skin often feels more dry, flaky, much more sensitive, and even more prone to rashes, texture, and acne. This is because of the lack of lipids, or fatty acids, there are to make a barrier, or seal for our skin, hydration evaporates much more easily, environmental toxins can penetrate the skin more easily, and bacteria on our skin can overgrow more easily to unhealthy levels. This can be caused by using harsh cleansers, over-exfoliation, and skin-drying due to weather or hormonal changes.
Sound familiar? What can we do to replenish and strengthen our skin barrier? Although we always need different sources of antioxidants, antioxidants are especially important to neutralize toxins from a compromised skin barrier. Other ingredients to look for to both calm sensitivities and fortify the skin barrier would be: snail mucin, honey and propolis, mugwort, Centella Asiatica, or cica, niacinamide, ceramides, and healthy oils to seal these friends in. Oils great for sensitive skin would be: jojoba oil (the closest to our natural sebum), sea buckthorn oil, avocado oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, or oils from mushrooms or truffles.
Sooni Pouch has a plethora of products with these ingredients on hand, and more, to help if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms! One of our star products for helping to strengthen and replenish the skin barrier is SkinMed’s Ph. Drop Barrier Cream, providing calming, fortifying, and nourishing ingredients like Houttuynia cordata extract, betaine, trehalose, ginseng extract, rose absolute oil, and ceramides. These will help repair damaged skin barriers gently and quickly.
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Egawa, G., Kabashima, K. (2018). Barrier dysfunction in the skin allergy. Allergology International, 67, 3-11.
Surber, C., Humbert, P., Abels, C., & Maibach, H. (2018). The acid mantle: a myth, or an essential part of skin health? Current Problems in Dermatology, 54, 1-10.