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Signs of a Damaged Skin Barrier and How to Treat it

Does your skin feel tight, dull, and rough? Do your breakouts never seem to end no matter what product you use? Is your skin prone to redness? ⁠If you find yourself experiencing one or even all three of these skin concerns, your skin barrier may be damaged. The solution? Maybe it’s time you try doing less for your skin. You heard it right. Less.

The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your epidermis and is mainly in charge of keeping irritants out, while locking-in the skin’s natural oils and moisture. A healthy skin barrier will look and feel smooth, soft, and radiant. Whereas an unhealthy skin barrier will look and feel dry and rough, dehydrated, sensitive and prone to breakouts. ⁠⁠

Don't panic! Even though this sounds concerning, the solution is in your routine. There are a couple of things that can harm your skin barrier so we sat down with a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Lily Talakoub, M.D., to get all the details.

Signs of a damaged skin barrier:

Disruption of the core function of your skin barrier will manifest itself in a number ways...

  1. Inflammation 
  2. Hyperpigmentation and dark spots
  3. Rough and uneven skin texture
  4. Dull and dehydrated skin
  5. Fine lines and wrinkles
  6. Breakouts

What can damage your skin barrier and how do you treat it?

1. The products you use

If you’re using too many products on your skin, or if you’re using the wrong ones for your skin type, the chances of you irritating your skin is much higher. This is why Dr. Lily recommends going back to the basics — cleanse, exfoliate (lightly), and moisturize. 

Featured products: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water, Cane + Austin 10% Retexture Pads, Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream

2. How you use those products

Over-cleansing and over-exfoliating your skin are two of the primary ways you can severely damage your skin barrier. You don’t want to do either because excessive cleansing and exfoliating will strip your skin of its natural oils, producing dry, irritated and breakout-prone skin.

If you have normal or oily skin, it’s recommended to use a gentle exfoliator 2 to 3 times per week. If you have dry or sensitive skin, gently exfoliating once a week should be enough. You also don’t want to cleanse more than twice a day. 

3. Your lifestyle

People don’t talk about this enough, but stress affects your skin’s condition big time. When you’re stressed, your body produces hormones like cortisol that stimulate your oil glands to produce excessive oil. This overproduction of oil then clogs pores which ultimately leads to breakouts. 

To manage stress breakouts, Dr. Lily recommends doubling down on your acne treatments by using an exfoliating pad like the SkinKure micro-peel pads made with a mixture of glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid. 

4. Harmful sun exposure

If you don’t regularly apply sunscreen, you should start now. Environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution can also wreak havoc on your skin barrier. By not wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen, you’re essentially allowing these environmental stressors to slowly break down your skin’s collagen, increasing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.

Featured products: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Broad-Spectrum Brush-on Sunscreen SPF 50, Isdin Erytona Actinica Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+, EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46


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