How Do I Restore My Skin's Moisture Barrier?

Skin Care Advice from Ben

This is hands-down the most frequently asked question we receive here at the farm formulary, and as so many of our products are designed to specifically address this issue, I'd like to delve further into the specifics of how your skin's moisture barrier works and how you can keep it healthy.

Your skin's moisture barrier or barrier function is located in the stratum corneum or the top layer of your skin's epidermis.  It is comprised of flattened skin cells called corneocytes, ceramides which are waxy lipid molecules, fatty acids and cholesterol.  This mix is covered by a hydro-lipid film.  The hydro end of that film is your skin's acid mantle, and we discussed acid-mantle maintenance in a previous blog post.

The lipid aspect of this film keeps your skin soft and supple and prevents trans-epidermal water loss.  These lipids also act as a shield in keeping out harmful bacteria, pollutants and allergens.

If your skin's moisture barrier is compromised or not working properly, your skin can be dry, flaky, red, irritated and inflamed.  You might present signs of dermatitis or eczema.  You might experience breakouts and dry skin at the same time.

So, how does the skin's moisture barrier become compromised?  Let me count the ways:

First of all, as we age, our skin tends to produce less of the lipids and fatty acids and other compounds our skin needs to stay healthy.  That's why as we get older, our skin becomes drier and wrinkled - just compare the skin of a 6 month old to that of a 70 year old.  This is natural aging.

Secondly, environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun and wind exposure, smoking, and excessive alcohol or illicit drug consumption can effect your skin's barrier health.  

And finally, our personal care habits more than likely contribute the most to a compromised moisture barrier function.  How is this?  Well, overuse of harsh cleansers, exfoliating too often, not using sunscreen, and overindulging in medi-spa treatments like microblading probably cause the vast majority of barrier function problems for people under 40.  

The good news is that with time and proper care, your skin's barrier function can be restored and you can enjoy fresh, healthy dewy skin once more.

Here's some tips on how to restore and/or maintain your skin's moisture barrier:

Do away with harsh surfactant cleansers.  Our pure, all-natural soap bars are perfect for getting your cleansing back on track.  If you prefer oil cleansing, our soon-to-be-released Balm-to-Milk Emulsifying Cleansing Balm will dissolve all traces of your water-proof makeup and sunscreen while leaving your skin soft and silky, not stripped and tight.  And it rinses clean away.

Do not over-cleanse your face.  For most of us, our skin needs to be cleansed with soap or a cleanser just once a day.  For example, cleansing before bedtime is preferred so that any overnight treatments are allowed to work on freshly cleaned skin.  In the morning, a simple splash of cool water or a few spritzes of toner are all that is needed before indulging in the rest of your morning skin care rituals.

Avoid over-exfoliating - both manually and chemically.  I recommend light manual exfoliation just once per week and no more.  Daily chemical exfoliation (i.e. acids or vitamin C) should be targeted to formulas that are gentle and non-irritating.  Use only one or possibly two of these types of products at any given time.  If you are trying to repair your moisture barrier, I suggest manually exfoliating once per month and foregoing any products containing acids or Vitamin C until your barrier is restored.

Drink plenty of water.  If your body is dehydrated, your skin will be, too.

Avoid heavy sun and wind exposure.  If you do plan on spending an extended period outside, make sure to remember your sun hat and wear an appropriate sun screen.

Look for products containing humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and propanediol and skin restoration ingredients like ceramides and peptides.  Our soon-to-be-released Moisture Barrier Support Serum is perfectly designed to help you maintain a healthy, working skin barrier.

Use skin care products with high quality lipids and fatty acids.  Look for products containing cold-pressed rosehip seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, borage oil, red raspberry seed oil and others.  Our Alli Facial Serum is a perfect nutritive primer for skin that is stressed out and in need of a fast-absorbing lipid infusion.

Avoid skin care products with a lot of coconut oil, as it can be drying and irritating for some.  Avoid soy oils in skincare products entirely, due to allergen issues.

And finally, relax and enjoy time spent with yourself.  Take time out for your care each day and learn techniques to de-stress.  A healthy, happy you is always beautiful!





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