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As you may know, there are various layers to the skin, each serving a different purpose. Your moisture barrier, also known as your acid mantle or stratum corneum, provides critical protection for your skin. This layer acts as the first line of defense, keeping good things in and bad things out. Those bad things it keeps out include environmental stressors, bacteria, pollutants and other irritants. And the good things? That mainly includes hydration. Not so fun fact, it is estimated that more than 75% of the population suffers from dehydration.
How to tell if your moisture barrier is compromised
When your moisture barrier is healthy, epidermal cells are packed tightly to prevent water loss. This is similar to the way mortar fills in the gaps between bricks. It’s much more difficult for anything to enter or exit the skin when there is a solid line of defense blocking the road. The more it’s compromised, the more room there is in between your skin cells for moisture to escape and bacteria to enter. If your skin feels tight, itchy, or abnormally sensitive, your moisture barrier is likely damaged. A sure sign of a damaged acid mantle is when even your normal products cause sensitivity and/or reactions.
How to prevent moisture barrier damage
Nothing disrupts your stratum corneum quite like over-exfoliation. Acids may be having their moment but that doesn’t give you a free pass to use them recklessly. Chemical and physical exfoliation can be incredibly effective but should be used with care. Make sure to listen to your skin and pass on exfoliation if you’re feeling extra sensitive. Another factor in damaged moisture barriers- winter. Increase your moisturizer when the temps drop to help avoid dry, dehydrated skin. We promise, your skin will thank you.
How to rebalance your moisture barrier
In the off chance that your acid mantle becomes out of whack, don't fret! Just follow these 3 easy steps:
Stop exfoliating (chemical and physical) and focus on repairing your skin.
Switch to gentle products that use emollients to not only strengthen the skin but also hydrate and seal in moisture. Some of our favorite picks include:
Phyto-Active Toning Mist: Created to deeply hydrate and help prevent water loss by reinforcing skin’s protective barrier. Use it to rehydrate throughout the day or to prep skin for serum and moisturizer.
Vita E Essential Cream: A true medium-weight moisturizer that helps strengthen damaged skin, while also calming irritation and redness.
Barrier Balm: Known and loved by our professional community, Barrier Balm is essential for providing intense hydration, especially to chapped areas like the nose, lips, cuticles, and elbows.
Restorative Mask: A nutrient-rich mask that helps restore skin’s strength and elasticity with the use of antioxidants and other conditioning ingredients.
Be patient. Repairing skin damage takes time. Remember you’re in a marathon, not a sprint and the more gentle you are with your skin the faster you’ll see results.
Have you ever damaged your moisture barrier? What products helped you the most when trying to repair it? We want to know! Let us know in the comments below!