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February 03, 2021
The truth is, you can be spending a lot of money on skincare products every month, but if you are not protecting and maintaining your skin’s lipid barrier, your skin will always feel fragile, dry, irritated, and inflamed.
While the body is made up of up to 70% water, the outermost layer of the skin, aka stratum corneum, is made up of ceramides, cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. Together they create a water-impermeable, protective layer to prevent excessive water loss, and act as a barrier against the entry of bacteria, irritants and pollutants.
The problem is, a lot of things can damage the lipid barrier —— changes in temperature and humidity, constant rubbing of face masks against the face, face scrubs, foaming cleansers, face picking, inappropriate use of skincare products, pollutants and irritants, UV exposure, and so on.
To make things worse, the levels of the lipids needed for a healthy lipid barrier decline with age. As a result, upper layers of the skin become thinner, the skin is more prone to dryness, dullness and inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, whilst fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent.
It is actually not hard to know. The signs include:
As said above, the lipid barrier is made up of lipids, and our lipid barrier decreases with age. This means, not only do you need to add hydration, you also need to add oil to constantly protect and rebuild the lipid barrier to achieve healthy skin. By replenishing the skin with lipids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols that are abundant in oils, not only will the skin feel moisturized, the skin will also be able to fortify itself, retain optimal moisture, fight free radicals, stimulate collagen production, and maintain a healthier, stronger barrier to effectively improve skin issues such as dryness, eczema, irritations, oiliness and wrinkles, thereby slowing the aging process.
By building stronger barrier functions via oils, the skin will be able to lock in moisture naturally, and you may not even need a moisturiser. In fact, for those that are prone to clogged pores, an oil may be even better than using a moisturiser.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Elixir™ <- Click to shop
Antioxidants are best known for fighting and neutralising free radicals to avoid collagen degradation. However, did you know antioxidants are also essential in maintaining the skin barrier?
As mentioned above, free radicals from pollutants and irritants can breakdown the outer skin barrier. By fighting off and neutralising these free radicals with antioxidants, the lipid barrier thus stay intact and healthy. In fact, some antioxidants, including niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) possess the ability to improve the barrier, whilst helping the skin to repair past damages. A study has even found that antioxidants can actually work within the skin barrier to keep it healthy when it’s under stress.
Symmetry Fluid <- Click to shop
We’ve said it before, and we will keep saying this. Foaming cleansers, which usually contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), strip the skin of its natural oil, and can damage the skin’s lipid barrier, thus weakening its water retention ability, which leads to dryness and pre-mature aging, as well as its defence ability in stopping harmful bacteria and pollutants from entering the body through the skin, resulting in acne, irritations, redness, and inflammations like eczema and dermatitis.
It is therefore best to use a cream or non-foaming gel/liquid cleanser, so that the skin will not be stripped of its natural oil, and the lipid barrier can remain healthy and intact.
Purifying Cleansing Beauty Cream <- Click to shop
Facial scrubs contain particles such as microbeads, crushed walnut shells or other similar substances to physically remove the top layer of the skin. While cleansing gadgets typically use micro-vibrations to cleanse the skin. Yes, they will make the skin feel smoother, but no, they will not clear pores, and they will not get rid of your acne; in fact, they can make the problem worse.
First of all, the friction in the process may irritate your already-inflamed skin. Secondly, such friction can also contribute to acne scars, as well as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which can take weeks, if not months, to improve. Most importantly, they may also damage the skin barrier by removing healthy skin cells and causing micro-tears, and a damaged skin barrier simply cannot properly retain moisture or keep bacteria and allergens out, leading to more acne.
For exfoliation purposes, consider using AHAs, BHA, PHAs and enzymes instead, as speed up cell turnover and help loosen dead skin cells, so they naturally slough off. As long as the formulation and concentration are right, not only are they much more effective and are suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin, over time they will also increase collagen and hyaluronic acid deposition and synthesis within the dermis, so the skin will appear more plumped, smooth and bouncy!
acid(wash) Lactic Acid Brightening Cleanser <- Click to shop
Alcohol in skincare products is often used to help with evaporation for a lighter, fresher and dry-to-touch sensation, but it is also this particular property that may irritate the skin. These drying alcohol usually appear as Alcohol, Alcohol Denat., Isopropyl Alcohol, Methanol and SD Alcohol in a product’s ingredient list. When used in high concentrations, they deteriorate the skin’s protective barrier, rendering it ineffective at keeping moisture in and bacteria out, while stimulating oil production. These all may lead to dryness, irritations, and breakouts.
Do note however that not all ingredients with the word ‘alcohol’ is bad. Many are safe and are fatty alcohols that can benefit the skin. For instance, Benzyl Alcohol is a natural component of essential oils and an approved preservative under the COSMOS Organic Certification criteria that can inhibit bacterial reproduction, whereas Stearyl, Cetearyl & Cetyl Alcohol are derived from palm kernel and/or coconut oil, and have skin soothing and softening properties.
Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask <- Click to shop
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