Skin Care

How to Know if You Have Skin Barrier Damage

The skin is made up of lots of layers and various cells. Of these layers, the outermost layer—also known as the skin barrier— is one of the most important. This layer is essentially the skin’s wall, functioning as a protective layer against various external substances that could harm it. The skin barrier is made of dead skin cells which function as so-called ‘bricks.’ and a lipid glue or ‘mortar’ made of oils, ceramides, and cholesterols holding the bricks together. All of these components are essential to having a working skin barrier, and the products that you put on your skin barrier can help it look and feel its best. 

A healthy skin barrier is easy to identify. If your skin is smooth and evenly toned, your skin’s barrier is probably healthy. A damaged skin barrier can look and feel like any abnormality in your skin’s exterior layer—whether that be a sunburn, dry skin, acne, or just a dull appearance. 

What Does a Damaged Skin Barrier Look Like?

A damaged skin barrier has many signs of distress. The most common sign of a damaged skin barrier is acne or other types of skin outbreaks, such as rosacea and eczema. While these conditions are genetic, skin barrier damage can make these conditions worse. “There are other symptoms, such as dehydrated, itchy, or hyperpigmented skin,” says Dr. Parks. “In some cases, your skin may become prone to infection or take a longer time to heal than usual. If you notice these among your various skin issues, it’s essential to begin taking care of your skin barrier immediately,” he says. 

What Causes Skin Barrier Damage?

A variety of reasons can cause skin barrier damage. Stress, lack of sleep, pollution, excessive wind or UV damage, or your diet can damage your skin barrier just as much as other, less common causes. “In terms of skincare, overuse of skincare products that strip away oils on the skin can cause damage, as well as the overuse of exfoliating acids or even harsh physical exfoliation. It’s essential to identify which causes apply to your skin and slowly remove these factors from your routine,” says Dr. Parks.

How Do I Treat Skin Barrier Damage?

Now that you know what causes skin barrier damage, it’s essential to learn how to treat the causes. This is where you’ll need to take some time to learn what your skin likes and dislikes. Everything from skin tone to whether or not you have dry or oily skin can be a factor in healing your skin barrier. Experiment with skin products to find ones that will treat your skin without any irritation. In addition, practice the right amount of exfoliation to find the right amount for benefits with no drawbacks. The SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator contains peptides, which can help repair a damaged skin barrier after over-exfoliation. 

There are additional ways to protect your skin barrier with skincare products. Consider using moisturizers with keratin or ceramides, which both reinforce your skin barrier to a healthier state. The Elta MD PM Therapy Moisturizer is popular because it can help nourish your skin barrier overnight. 

If you plan on going outside for any extended amount of time, make a habit of applying sunscreen to your body or wearing clothes that will protect the bulk of your skin from UV light. Of course, no amount of protection can help if your skincare products are actively damaging your skin. Read through your product’s ingredient lists and make sure there are no possibly damaging or irritating ingredients. SPF products like the Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum are an excellent choice for an SPF that can protect your skin from the sun. 

No amount of skincare can replace skin barrier damage that is sourced from various environmental causes. Make sure to stay plenty hydrated to provide your skin with the moisture it needs. Try to get eight hours of sleep every night, and reduce your life’s stress. Stress leads to many issues in the human body, and the skin is not immune to these changes. The HUM Nutrition Beauty zzz’s supplement can help you get the right amount of sleep each night. 

Skin barrier damage is a difficult form of body maintenance. Learning how to treat your skin best, how to protect your skin, and how to reduce environmental causes is essential for keeping your skin healthy. However, what your skin needs will really depend on your body and its specific needs. Keeping your skin healthy may help other genetic issues as well, such as eczema and rosacea. And, after all, reducing the stress from day-to-day life is good for more than just skin. 

Check Out More of Our Favorite Skin Barrier Saving Products!

DefenAge 24/7 Barrier Balance Cream (Fragrance-Free) (1.5 OZ.)

4.8 / 5.0
A fragrance-free moisturizer that protects the skin's moisture barrier and fights signs of aging.
  • Balances skin's barrier
  • Hydrating and soothing
  • Smooths fine lines

Dermalogica Hyaluronic Ceramide Mist (5.1 FL. OZ.)

5.0 / 5.0
A mist that hydrates and seals in moisture for supple, moisturized skin.
  • Refreshes and soothes skin
  • Preps skin for the rest of your routine
  • Protects moisture barrier

Elta MD Barrier Renewal Complex (1.7 FL. OZ.)

4.9 / 5.0
A repairing moisturizer that hydrates the skin and restores the skin's moisture barrier.
  • Protects skin from damage and irritation
  • Draws in long-lasting moisture
  • Soothes inflammation

Elta MD Skin Recovery Night Mask (1.7 OZ.)

4.7 / 5.0
A skin-repairing overnight treatment that heals the skin barrier and reduces irritation and redness.

Osmosis Beauty Tropical Mango – Barrier Repair Mask (30 mL)

The combination of nut and fruit butters and oils work to nourish, hydrate, and restore the skin’s lipid barrier. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties, this mask will leave the skin soothed and replenished.

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator (Multiple Sizes Available)

4.9 / 5.0
A rejuvenating hydrator for all skin types that contains 5 types of hyaluronic acid and has both immediate and long-term effects.
  • Protects moisture barrier
  • Smooths wrinkles
  • Safe for all skin types

StriVectin Wrinkle Recode™ Moisture Rich Barrier Cream (1.7 OZ.)

Visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with this powerful moisturizer formulated to specifically address the signs of aging.
  • Collagen boosting
  • Moisturizing
  • Skin-barrier boosting
  • Gentle

About Julia Sachs

Julia Sachs is a copywriter in the beauty industry. She has worked with skincare companies, educational services and ingredient suppliers since 2018. Her favorite ingredients are SPF and niacinamide in serum form.