Dry, Sensitive Skin? Your Moisture Barrier Might Be Damaged.
What is your moisture barrier? It’s the very top layer of skin compromised of lipids or oils. It helps to retain water/hydration and also provide protection against the environment.
When it is intact, your skin is soft, smooth, calm and glowing. But when it becomes weakened, it becomes thinner and small cracks develop allowing moisture to escape and irritation to occur.
Signs of Moisture Barrier Damage.
Here are some common signs that tell you your moisture barrier is compromised:
- Stinging or burning when products are applied
- Itchiness, irritation, roughness
- Flakiness + peeling
- Dryness + dehydration
- Redness, flushing, Rosacea
- Increased breakouts
What Causes Your Moisture Barrier to Become Weakened?
Look for a combination of these factors that may change seasonally:
- Exfoliating too aggressively or using a drying cleanser or toner
- Too much hot water
- Skipping moisturizer
- Too much sun, wind or cold
- Dry climates, wood stoves or air conditioning
- Aging. Your barrier becomes more vulnerable after age 45.
How To Fix a Damaged Moisture Barrier
The goal here is to build your barrier back by eliminating what was causing the problem and by focusing on gentle cleansing, hydration (water element), and increasing lipids (oil element).
- Temporarily eliminate very active serums containing acids, Vitamin C or retinols
- Hold off on masks that focus on exfoliating, peeling, tightening or deep cleansing.
- Protect your face when outdoors with sunscreen, lip balm a hat or a scarf.
- Use a simmer pot on your stove or a humidifier to improve your air quality
Build It Back:
- Use a gentle cleanser and rinse with cool water.
- Apply a hydrating mist. Preferably one with aloe, vitamins and pure hydrosols.
- Quickly apply a facial oil suited to your skin type to trap the hydration under the lipid barrier. Look and feel your skin after a few minutes to see if you need to apply another layer.
Extra Credit: if your skin feels very dry, tight or it stings, apply a layer of local honey to your damp skin. Honey is a humectant, which draws moisture to itself-which you especially need right now. It also contains enzymes that will loosen and easily dissolve the dry, itchy layer of dead skin. Honey is also used in wound care so it will soothe + facilitate healing of those tiny cracks in your barrier.
**If your face stings when hydrosol is applied, go straight to applying oil. Apply 2 layers and then place a very cool, wet washcloth on top. Remove after a few minutes and be sure you still have enough oil on your face. After a few days of this treatment, you should be able to use the hydrosol again.
How Quickly Can I Rebuild My Moisture Barrier?
If you eliminate the things that are causing damage and you are using the right products to correct it, you should see improvements in 2-4 weeks.
Dry, irritated skin can be an easy fix. You just have to be mindful and listen to your skin.