What is the Skin Barrier, and why is it so important in a COVID environment?

We talk a lot about the skin barrier here at Skinprint. It’s a concept that can be pretty vague and confusing but considering how important it is to your overall skin health and appearance, it’s critical to understand.

Our skin “barrier” is essentially just the outermost layer of our skin. If you can visualize a brick and mortar structure- that is essentially what your barrier would look like under a microscope. You would see skin cells layered like bricks surrounded by a glue-like mixture of hydrolipids (a mixture of ceramides, fatty acids, and natural moisturizing factors). When both of these components are healthy, they work together as a protective seal for our body, keeping valuable moisture in and damaging environmental elements such as bacteria and pollution out.

Right now, we’ve all been extra mindful to wash and sanitize our skin as much as we can. And while it is extremely important to continue doing so, we should keep in mind that all of those surfactants, exfoliants and alcohols will, to some extent, degrade this brick and mortar structure. When that structure weakens, it becomes penetrable- aka “impaired”.

When your barrier is impaired these external stressors make their way to underlying skin cells- which then are forced to go into combat mode. They expend all their energy into fighting off foreign elements and simply trying to survive. To us, this manifest as redness, inflammation, acne and premature signs of aging. Once that skin barrier is repaired, we see an overall improved function of the skin cells themselves. All of their energy can now be directed towards healthy growth and turnover, rather than fighting against external stressors.

The most important thing we want you to take away is how to keep your skin healthy in the current environment. Make sure you are washing thoroughly and sanitizing whenever appropriate, but also be sure to supplement afterwards with barrier-friendly products to replace the hydrolipids that act as the mortar in our skin. Choose a high-quality moisturizer or to go a step even further, a light layer of petrolatum (Vaseline, Aquaphor etc) will create a light film and a further level of protection against bacteria, germs and external pollutants.

The bottom line? Keep washing and sanitizing but make sure to use a high grade moisturizer after every use to keep skin strong and healthy while we all ride this out together.