Your Skin, Working for you? Or against you?

The barrier function of the skin probably plays one of the most important roles in protecting us from infection.  It maintains an inside/outside barrier regulating water loss and an outside/inside barrier responsible for body integrity and preventing microbes, chemicals and allergens from penetrating causing us harm.

Although a very effective design the skin is very complex and requires many different layers of the skin to function perfectly and in harmony with one another to maintain the equilibrium to enable it to do its job!

There are 5 functional aspects of the epidermal barrier but to keep this simple (and a quick read) let’s talk about the outermost layer and its job.

The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of the skin.  It is often referred to as the brick wall due to its job of protecting what’s inside and to its structure.

It consists of skin cells (corneocytes) that are bound together by lipids or the “mortar” if you like.  This brick wall is quite literally keeping us alive.  Without this protection, the water in our bodies would escape leaving us completely dehydrated and we would be vulnerable to all kinds of toxins, pathogens and harmful outside aggressors that would literally wreak havoc with our bodies!

Now imagine for a moment that there is no ‘mortar’ and the ‘bricks’ are crumbling!  This is an impaired barrier function!

The ‘Against you’ part:

For starters DO NOT have any kind of rejuvenation treatment such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion or laser treatments until the barrier function of the skin is healthy and intact.  Doing so will put the skin at major risk of scarring and being sore and sensitive for a very long time.  Remember when the barrier function of the skin is impaired it has very little protection and the healing of the skin will take longer than usual.  It would be like standing in hailstones without an umbrella! The point of rejuvenation treatments is to trigger your body’s wound healing response to encourage new cells, stimulate collagen, strengthen elastin and reduce things like scarring.  If we create a wound the skin is unable to heal, it completely defeats the point of the treatment and would impair the barrier further!

It’s important to recognise why this is the case with your skin, what are you doing or what has been done in the past that may have caused this impaired barrier?

There are many reasons why, but the most frequent reasons I see are;

  • Overly aggressive stripping of the skin ie excessive physical and chemical exfoliation
  • Medications causing sensitivities
  • Health issues
  • Sun damage
  • Poor skincare habits
  • Working in harsh environments
  • Frequent swimming in chlorinated pools

Unless the cause of the impairment is removed it is going to be very difficult to have progress in repairing barrier function.  When a situation arises and the aggressor can’t be removed such as a medication side effect, then the most important thing is the management of the situation like good daily skincare habits to protect and hydrate. We stock Sesderma, Epionce and Medik8 products who offer an excellent array of cutting-edge clinical level consumer/ retail homecare products

The ’For you’ part:

How to repair the barrier function.

Number 1 it is imperative that you are using a good skincare regime at home such as the aforementioned Sesderma, Epionce or Medik8 products.  This will include a cleanser suitable for sensitive skin, an antioxidant and hydrating serum and a hydrating moisturiser that includes key ingredients to help repair the barrier of the skin.  What you do with your skin every day is key to resolving this issue.

Some treatments are available to repair the barrier of the skin such as Dermalux LED light therapy, and hydration treatments including oxygen and hyaluronic acid (3D HydrO2 Facial).  With time it’s possible to progress onto light micro-needling treatments (Nano Pore by Sesderma) and non-invasive rejuvenation treatments.

Do however, bear in mind it’s important to keep the treatments slow and progressive to ensure you do not aggravate the skin, otherwise, it could quickly go backwards.

Homecare products should include ingredients that replicate what the barrier function is made up of such as; lipids (fatty acids), ceramides, hyaluronic acid and cholesterol.  Epionce is a favourite for barrier repair because of their products containing such ingredients.

Ultimately there are a multitude of things you can do to look after your skin without having to spend lots of money, knowledge is key. Our aim is to provide you with results driven, effective procedures and homecare products that can assist you in feeling confident and happy in your skin.