Is Your Moisture Barrier Compromised?
Has your skin been extra dry lately? Perhaps you have new skin sensitivities and you don't know why.
Many skin conditions and chronically dry or sensitive skin is due to a compromised moisture barrier and these skin issues can become more severe in the dry winter months.
Until a few decades ago, we didn't know how important the moisture barrier was, but now we have the knowledge we need to keep it healthy and strong.
So what is your moisture barrier? How do you protect it from harm? Keep reading to find out.
YOUR MOISTURE BARRIER
What It Is
Your moisture barrier is the outermost layer of your skin, your stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is the outer layer of your epidermis, and the final frontier of a skin cell's life cycle before it sheds and makes way for younger cells.
Nicknamed the "horny layer", the stratum corneum is made up of cells that are toughened like an animal's horn. It is composed of 10 to 30 thin layers of continually shedding, dead skin cells.
Several researchers and clinicians over the past 5 to 6 decades have contributed to a wide body of published knowledge that supports our current understanding of how the SC, once thought to be biologically inert, actively contributes to the physiological homeostasis of skin. (J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.)
Once thought to be nothing more than a useless pile of dead skin cells, we now know the stratum corneum is critical to overall skin health and disease prevention!
What It Does
Your stratum corneum is your body's first line of defense.
It has been recognized for approximately 50 years that the stratum corneum exhibits biological properties that contribute directly to maintaining and sustaining healthy skin. (J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.)
Through recent research we now know that the stratum corneum performs a plethora of barrier tasks, protecting layers underneath from environmental harm.
It helps protect deeper skin cells from the harmful effects of ultraviolet sun radiation, from allergens and chemicals, and maintaining skin hydration. If this protective layer is damaged, it is easier for pollutants and allergens to permeate through, causing inflammation, reactions, and sometimes skin diseases.
The stratum corneum also keeps the skin moisturized by regulating water content and water loss. Moisture balance is so important for nourishing the skin. Hydrated skin acts more youthful, especially since water is a huge component of collagen, which keeps your skin plump and firm.
Yours May Be Compromised If
If your skin looks and feels like any of the following symptoms, your moisture barrier may be compromised:
- Chronically dry
- Unusual redness
- Overly oily
- Dry and no oil
- More breakouts than usual
Skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and skin rashes such as those from dermatitis can be caused from having a compromised SC moisture barrier.
If your skin has started becoming extra sensitive to skincare products, or you moisturize and it still becomes dry at the end of the day, you're either using the wrong products, your moisture barrier has been damaged, or both.
The type of cleanser you use matters. If your skin feels dry and tight after you wash your face, the cleanser you're using is too harsh.
One of the most common exogenous (i.e. outside) factors that can cause epidermal damage is over-washing or over-bathing, especially when combined with use of poorly formulated or harsh cleansers, especially true soaps, which are alkaline. (J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.)
Toners can also be harsh on the skin, especially if they are made with alcohol, and be careful when using over the counter exfoliants and skincare products. Using too many products at once, or overly stripping your skin of dead skin cells can rupture the stratum corneum and cause sensitivities.
If you have chronically dry hands and face in the winter months, your moisture barrier has become compromised and needs some extra TLC to combat seasonal dry skin.
Right now our skin has become extra sensitive as we take precautions due to COVID-19.
Dry, itchy skin is already a problem for many Americans, but coronavirus has made it significantly worse. To protect yourself from COVID-19, you must constantly wash and disinfect your hands with harsh products. Though that’s excellent for your immune system, it’s not so great for your skin. (Slumber Yard)
How to Protect It
There are things you can do at home to build back a strong moisture barrier, but if you have a chronic skin condition it is always best to get it checked out by your Dermatologist. A dermatologist can measure your Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL), and give you the best recommendations for your particular skin issue.
You can find a board certified Dermatologist in your area at this website: https://find-a-derm.aad.org/
Through maintenance of both proper skin hydration and resistance to shearing forces, the structural integrity of the SC is sustained from day to day. (J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.)
Since part of the moisture barrier's job is to keep moisture in, if the stratum corneum has been damaged, it becomes easy for water to evaporate and "leak" out of the skin. If this is the case, you will need to build the barrier back up with well formulated moisturizers or barrier repair creams.
Humectants that attract moisture to the skin and lock it in have been found to greatly increase stratum corneum functioning. This includes hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, antioxidants, and amino acids.
Oxygenetix Hydro-Matrix was formulated to heal severely compromised skin, and is formulated with powerful humectants. Hyaluronic Acid, naturally occurring in the body, is one of the strongest attractors of water, binding water up to 1,000 times its weight. In Hydro-Matrix, Hyaluronic Acid works with Sodium PCA to replenish moisture loss back into the skin. While the epidermis becomes replenished, Hydro-Matrix also combats bacteria and cellular damage with antioxidants from an aloe vera gel base. Patented Ceravitae® is the cherry on top of this healing cocktail, encouraging oxygen uptake to skin cells, for a rapid recovery from cellular damage.
Apply Hydro-Matrix after using a gentle cleanser, day and night. You can reapply as needed throughout the day.
Drinking enough water throughout the day will help too. As you moisturize your body inside and out, your skin should be back to it's normal self in no time.