What is a skin barrier? It is the outermost layer of your skin that defends your body against a constant onslaught of environmental threats such as pollutants, smog, dirt, chemicals, and other irritants, while simultaneously protecting your body’s critical water balance.  When your skin barrier is compromised you will see that in your complexion with uneven skin tone, overproduction of sebum, breakouts, irritation, dryness, among others.  But good news...there are several ways you can manage keeping your skin hydrated, balanced, and healthy.  We weaken the barrier through an ecosystem of factors- diet, toxin exposure, pollution, water intake, sleep deprivation, etc.  In addition, toxic ingredients and harsh chemicals that are nonessential in our soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. contribute to weakening the barrier as well. 

Here are some ways to combat this issue which we are all susceptible to.  First, go clean.  I cannot emphasize this enough to do your research on the products you are using and make sure they are free of non-toxic ingredients.  This is so much more in your control than many of the other factors and, when your skin looks stripped, the first place you should look is your soaps, cleansers, topical self care products, lotions, etc. Second, make sure you are drinking enough water and eating the right diet for YOU.  If dairy causes inflammation, avoid it. Gluten is a common ingredient a lot of us avoid, because our flour is so processed and bleached, we are not getting any nutrients from it and it can severely disrupt the good bacteria in your gut (and thus shows up on your skin). Third, get enough sleep- simple.  The average person needs 7-8 hours a night to feel rested. Fourth, invest in a great skincare regimen with the right ingredients. Here are some ingredients to look for that will enhance the skin’s barrier. 

Glycerin is a great ingredient in cleansers and exfoliants.  It helps remove oil, dirt, makeup, and other cellular debris without stripping your skin. Your skin's natural oils are often stripped during the bathing process, whether from hot water (cool to lukewarm water should be used) or harsh products. Glycerin can help lock in your skin's natural moisture and prevent over-drying. This may be especially beneficial if you are experiencing drying related to acne treatment.  Thyrst Beauty Suggestion: Exfoliant 07 and Moisturizer 12

Oil is an amazing and more progressive ingredient that many are not totally on board with yet. When people hear oil they think, “OMG, that will make me break out!”  Oils such as grapeseed and castor oil are rich in anti-inflammatory linoleic fatty acids which provides moisture and “plumpness” without weighing down the skin; it fortifies and protects the skin's barrier, thereby helping to fend off UV rays and air pollutants such as smoke, both of which cause free radical activity that can result in wrinkles and signs of aging. Certain fruit oils like raspberry and pomegranate oils are rich in antioxidants which help the skin repair itself. These oils are non-comedogenic [meaning they won’t clog pores] but they will help balance sebum production (great for acne prone skin) and help the skin retain moisture. Thyrst Beauty Suggestion : Oil 10

Peptides are like smart cars with a smart address.  They are designed to promote the skin to do more of what it already does naturally such as produce collagen or hyaluronic acid.  They come in many different forms; copper peptides, for example, promote the production of collagen and elastin in the skin.  Thyrst Beauty Suggestion: Serum 11

Niacinamide, a derivative of vitamin B, is imperative.  It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and it helps build cells in the skin while also protecting them from environmental stressors, such as sunlight, pollution, and toxins. It can be helpful for severe acne, especially inflammatory forms like papules and pustules. Over time, you may see fewer lesions and improved skin texture. Thyrst Beauty Suggestion: Serum 11

Vitamin E is a very important ingredient that helps protect against free radicals and prevents the proxidation of body fats. It is an extremely effective moisturizing agent and improves the elasticity and smoothness of skin. Thyrst Beauty Suggestion: Moisturizer 12

Protecting and strengthening the skin barrier has become a key concern of skincare chemists and formulators, and they look to a growing body of research to identify effective and safe topical ingredients.  There are more ingredients that assist with improving and protecting the skin barrier but these are some of the major- and you can buy them here!

Written by Allyson Welch
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