Whether you’re a beginner to skincare or a true-blue fanatic like us, you’ve surely heard of ‘actives’ and the wonders they can do for your skin. For those not aware, active ingredients, like AHAs, BHAs target specific skin concerns and are known to show visible results. That explains why active-infused potions have literally flooded the market, our social media feeds, and subsequently our shelves at home in the past few years. However, going overboard with actives, or simply using them in incorrect combinations or even during wrong intervals can damage your skin barrier, that can eventually lead to further skin problems. Additionally, a host of factors like your diet, climate, and lifestyle habits can impact your barrier health too. As any skincare junkie worth her salt will tell you, a healthy skin barrier is the key to healthy, problem-free skin (plus, makeup always looks better on great skin). To confirm the facts, we spoke to Dr Apratim Goel to break down the basics of maintaining barrier health, and how you can strengthen it.
So, what does skin barrier really mean? To put simply, it is the topmost layer of your skin, and it’s the first line of defense against infections, toxins, UV rays, and even pollution. Moreover, it also locks in moisture and prevents it from escaping your skin. In short, the skin barrier’s function is to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
Apart from an excessive or even incorrect use of actives, there are other factors that can weaken your skin barrier. The most common culprits include over-exfoliation, harsh soaps, and skipping your sunscreen. “Dietary habits like eating excessive junk food, and skipping your greens can contribute to a weak skin barrier—environmental aggressors like the sun, pollution and extreme temperatures also being major contributors. Certain lifestyle habits like smoking, not working out regularly or inadequate sleep can affect your barrier.”, Dr Goel shares.
The most common telltale signs of a compromised skin barrier include “dry, dehydrated skin that feels stretchy or waxy.”, confirms Dr. Goel says, “It could also include red, irritated patches that feel itchy and scaly. In many cases, you will also notice inflammation.” If you happen to experience these signs, fret not, healing your skin barrier is simpler than you think. “First, you need to start by skipping on actives for a while to give your skin barrier enough room to heal.”, Dr Goel advises, “Stay away from exfoliants and avoid rubbing, tugging or scrubbing your skin.”
When it comes to healing barrier health, a good moisturiser is highly recommended— pick a product that is formulated with a combination of humectants, emollients and ceramides for visible results. “Humectants are water-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and panthenol, that pull moisture from the environment into your skin to keep it hydrated and plump”, explains Dr Goel. “Emollients like dimethicone, cocoa butter, shea butter and jojoba oil repair the skin barrier and make it smoother and softer. Ceramides work by replenishing the natural oils that your skin may have lost .” Apart from choosing the right moisturiser, it is imperative to follow a nutrient rich diet, manage stress, and get a solid 8 hour sleep every night to keep your skin barrier in its optimum health. Also, make sure you follow a skincare routine that cater specifically to your skin type, and don’t skip your sunscreen (it’s non-negotiable, if you ask us).