4 Ways to Protect Your Skin Barrier

Apply Sunscreen Daily
Apply Sunscreen Daily

The world is a big, beautiful, sometimes scary place. Throughout life, you’ll encounter environmental risks that can impact your health. Fortunately, your body has a natural defense mechanism — the skin barrier. This refers to the epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin that acts as a protective shield.

The skin barrier safeguards you from harmful elements in the environment, such as germs and pollutants. However, it’s crucial to take extra precautions to maintain its integrity. Here are four ways to effectively protect and nurture your skin barrier.

1. Apply Sunscreen Daily

Sunshine is essential for life. It governs the sleep-wake cycle so you can get needed rest, and it boosts your mood. It also enables the skin to produce vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and a robust immune system.

It’s no secret, however, that sun exposure has a darker side. Harsh UV rays can disrupt skin cell function, leading to cancerous growths. Less dire but still unwelcome are the early signs of aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots, that sunlight can cause.

That’s why, rain or shine, hot or cold, you should apply sunscreen with at least 15 SPF every day. Sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, making it a vital component of any anti-aging routine. Whether you’re worried about cancer or crow’s feet, sunscreen is a must. Using it daily will keep your skin physically healthy and give it a more youthful appearance.

2. Use a Barrier Cream

If you’ve ever even heard the term “barrier cream,” chances are you think it’s essentially the same thing as a moisturizer. This is a common misconception. While barrier creams do serve to keep the skin hydrated, they do this primarily by preventing transepidermal water loss. Basically, their function is to keep the good stuff (e.g., moisture) in and the bad stuff (e.g., skin irritants, environmental toxins) out.

Containing ingredients such as lanolin, wax, ceramides, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid, barrier creams act as a protective shield for your skin. In addition to helping it retain moisture, a barrier cream can help repair skin tears and prevent injury from external irritants. Basically, it provides a protective layer that enables the skin to heal itself.

Not that a barrier cream eliminates the need for conventional moisturizers, which hydrate the skin’s outermost layer. Ideally, the two are used in combination — first, the moisturizer to provide hydration, then the barrier cream to lock that watery goodness in. To build a strong, healthy skin barrier and keep skin moisturized, barrier creams are essential.

Protect Your Skin
Protect Your Skin

3. Be Gentle With Your Skin

Your skin deals with enough external aggressors as it is, so be gentle with how you take care of it. For example, when you’re cleansing your face, don’t use an exfoliator every day. While it’s good to slough off old skin cells, exfoliators should only be used once or twice per week. Use them more often, and you’ll likely experience skin irritation.

When you cleanse your face, use mild products to remove any makeup, oil, dirt, and debris to avoid damaging your skin barrier. Keep water temperatures on the mild side, too. Overly hot water can rob skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Long showers in hot water can also exacerbate existing skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. So keep the taps set to warm and apply lotion after your shower to lock in moisture.

Hot water isn’t the only temperature-related threat to your skin barrier, either. It’s important to avoid prolonged exposure to cold as well. Cold weather can lead to very dry skin, sometimes even causing it to crack or bleed. Moisturizing is key to keeping skin healthy, so make sure that you apply extra lotion and your barrier cream during the cold months.

4. Eat a Well-Rounded Diet

What you eat undoubtedly impacts your outward appearance, from the shape of your body to the shininess of your hair. This is especially true of your skin, which — for all intents and purposes — is your outer appearance to the world.

You want your skin to look and feel great while being as healthy as possible, just like any other organ in your body. In order to achieve this, you must eat right. Aim to consume a diet that contains plenty of healthy fats and foods that are rich in antioxidants. A few foods to incorporate when getting started include green leafy vegetables, berries, salmon, and nuts.

The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and walnuts, for example, keep your skin moisturized and decrease acne- and redness-causing inflammation. These foods are also a good source of zinc, which promotes wound healing and strengthens the skin’s barrier function. The right food can help you stay young-looking and keep your skin glowing.

Ask Not What Your Skin Barrier Can Do for You — Ask What You Can Do for It

Your skin barrier protects you from so much; sun, bacteria, viruses, pollutants, and more. But what are you doing to protect your skin barrier? If the answer is nothing, it’s definitely time to make some changes to your day-to-day routine.

Your skin barrier provides a lot of protection, and you don’t want to be the reason it can’t do its job. With just a few minor adjustments in your daily practices, you can rest easy knowing that your skin barrier is being protected and restored.

I'm NOT a doctor! I'm just passionate about health and healthy leaving. The information on this website, such as graphics, images, text and all other materials, is provided for reference and educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The content is not intended to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition.