Let's start by stating this simple fact: Healthy, clear, and glowing skin is not possible without a functioning lipid barrier.
What is the lipid barrier, and what does it do?
Otherwise known as the Stratum Corneum or moisture barrier, the lipid barrier is the outermost layer of our skin and is made of Ceramides, Cholesterol fatty acids, and dead skin cells.
The skin barrier serves many crucial functions, including:
- Permeability: preventing loss of water, electrolytes and minerals.
- Protects against the invasion of microorganisms, allergens and pathogens.
- Provides UV barrier and anti-oxidation.
- Maintains moisture balance in the inner layers of the skin.
- When healthy, the lipid barrier provides a youthful glow.
What are the factors that compromise the skin's lipid barrier?
An impaired lipid barrier can result in:
- Premature aging.
- Persistant acne issues and oil imbalance.
- Increased sensitivity, irritation, redness and itching.
- Worsening of skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis and Rosacea.
Our lipid barrier can be easily compromised by:
- Using harsh cleansers containing Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
- Using Physical exfoliants and scrubs (anything with texture).
- Skincare products that are high in actives such as Retinol, AHA's and Ascorbic Acid.
- Consistent exposure to oxidants (chemical based skincare and polutants)
- Excessive heat and prolonged sun exposure.
- Impaired nutritional status: low fat diets and low nutrients, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol and artificial foods.
- Consumption of sugars which reduce the skin's ability to heal.
How to repair a compromised lipid barrier:
The lipid barrier repair needs a dual approach from both the inside and outside.
Let's start with the internal repair strategies;
- Ensure that you have healthy levels of Vitamin-C and Calcium. They are responsible for cell differentiation and will aid in the repair process.
- Consume plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, like berries. They are essential to skin homeosis, which is the protection of proteins and lipids from oxidation.
- Vitamin E, Beta Carotene and Lycopene contribute to forming the UV barrier. So stock up on your veggies, nuts, and foods with cooked tomato sauce.
- Take a Collagen supplement and consume foods that stimulate your body's collagen production. More on that topic here.
- Reduce your sugar intake.
- Take your omega 3 fatty acid supplements or consume wild salmon twice per week, include olive oil and avocados in your diet .
- Wear a hat in the summer and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
What skincare products help repair a compromised lipid barrier?
1- Start your make up routine with a cleanser that removes make up and impurities without disrupting the skin's delicate microbiome. Use a milk or oil cleaner. A few great options:
A few more options here.
This lightweight, multi-tasking serum helps to restore the delicate lipid barrier by strengthening skin surface against pathogens, irritants and free radical damage. It contains the three most beneficial oils for your skin; Rosehip, Jojoba, and Hemp seed oils. (This is the ideal product for this exact topic!). While Jojoba strengthens the skin's barrier, Hempseed oil soothes, and Rosehip oil provides Retinol to repair damage and form.
3- Use a mineral sunscreen everyday. Preferably one that contains Zinc Oxide. My personal favorite is
More mineral sunscreen options here.
4- Use skincare rich in mineral which strengthen, calm and soothe sensitive skin, in addition to boosting Collagen production. You can find these in:
5- Use a protective and healing balm to help seal the moisture and protect the skin all day. A couple of my favorites are:
Loli Date Nut Brûlée (which can also be used as a cleanser),
6- Do not use any physical exfoliants ever! They are damaging to the skin. Instead, use an enzyme exfoliant such as:
Use it sparingly. If your skin feels rough, irritated and sensitized, do not use any exfoliation for 3 to 4 weeks. Just focus on all the other remedies. Once you start seeing improvement, you can introduce this mask once every two weeks, then once per week at most.
The best, most natural way to maintain a healthy lipid barrier is to use gentle ingredients that will not strip the skin of its natural moisture, eat an antioxidant-rich diet filled with the essential vitamins, avoid prolonged sun exposure, and wear/reapply a mineral SPF daily. By protecting this layer of your skin you will be saving yourself down the road from signs of aging, wrinkles, and dry or damaged skin. Use these methods, and recommended products for the best possible results for your skin.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!