To ensure our skin ages gracefully, we need to keep it in a healthy state. That's evident.
Thou what does it mean to maintain our skin health?
The health of our skin is directly related to its "barrier function" and maintaining its balance. With a well-functioning skin barrier and good hydration of the epidermis, we are on the right track.
Let's break it down step by step.
What is the barrier function of the skin?
As the name suggests, it refers to the dual protective role of our skin: on one hand, protecting us from external aggressors such as sun exposure, pollution, or pathogenic microorganisms; and on the other hand, contributing to regulating certain essential internal processes in our body, such as thermoregulation and water retention.
If we make a little effort to remember, we'll recall that our skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. When we talk about the barrier function, we focus on the two outermost layers of the epidermis:
- The acid mantle, a delicate coating composed of sebum, is the most superficial layer.
- The stratum corneum, located below it, is composed of dead cells, ceramides, and fatty acids.
Both of these layers make up our skin barrier.
If either of these layers has any defects, the barrier function of our skin begins to fail, and that's when we start noticing something unusual; we feel tightness, dry and dull skin, redness or irritation appear... We start to worry and often come to the mistaken conclusion that we have "sensitive skin," when the solution to our problem is much simpler.
Why does the skin barrier function get damaged?
There are multiple factors that can cause alterations in our skin barrier, from an imbalanced diet to stress, lack of sleep, prolonged sun exposure, sudden temperature changes, not drinking enough water, excessive alcohol consumption (which dehydrates us), smoke, pollution, etc.
The list is long and could extend further if we include inappropriate skincare practices: a cleansing routine with harsh soaps, excessive exfoliation, or overuse of retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).
What happens when the skin barrier function is compromised?
When the skin barrier is healthy, the acid mantle remains intact, and the cells of the stratum corneum are properly organized like well-cemented bricks with ceramides and fatty acids.
On the contrary, when the barrier function is compromised, these bricks lose their cohesion, leading to water loss through evaporation. You may have heard of transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This is what we're referring to. Consequently, the skin becomes dehydrated and more susceptible to bacterial entry and other irritating pathogens.
The skin becomes dry and tight, inflammation and redness occur, and overall it becomes duller and rougher to the touch. It's no wonder that with this situation, the skin ages more rapidly.
How to repair the skin barrier function?
To recover the effectiveness of the barrier function, time (at least 4 weeks) and consistency are needed. It is important to implement a series of guidelines, starting with improving the bad habits mentioned before.
Use products that care for the lipid barrier: apply cosmetics that contain topical vegetable oils that are similar to the lipids produced by our body (sebum). This way, you can rebuild the acid mantle and restore consistency to the stratum corneum, while also avoiding your skin getting used to producing excess sebum.
- Try to reduce inflammation with anti-inflammatory and soothing actives, such as chamomile, green tea, bamboo sap, everlasting, aloe vera, etc.
- Help restore water levels in the skin with moisturizing and hydrating actives, such as glycerin, squalene, or hyaluronic acid.
- Incorporate antioxidants with regenerative action into your skincare routine.
- Use gentle cleansers, avoiding soaps and surfactants.
- Always remember to use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.
The combined action of both products allows you to recover optimal hydration levels and maintain them for 24 hours; bringing hydration to the deepest layers of the epidermis thanks to the contribution of hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid.
Jojoba oil with its anti-inflammatory and healing properties helps regenerate the acid mantle thanks to a combination of fatty acids very similar to sebum, which send a "signal" to the skin not to produce it in excess.
With its anti-inflammatory and soothing action, chamomile helps relieve itching and redness while everlasting adds an antimicrobial and purifying action, as well as a repairing and regenerating effect on skin cells, contributing to a more even tone and healthier appearance.
Finally, a few drops of rosehip oil release a powerful cocktail of unsaturated essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 that, in addition to being natural antioxidants, are key to restoring skin elasticity.
If you want to know more about the rest of the ingredients combined in this routine and how they can contribute to strengthening the skin's barrier function, you can do so here.