From record breaking snowfall in Tahoe to a snowy ordeal that left many East Coasters stranded on I-95 overnight, Mother Nature brought us a shivery start to 2022.
While frigid winds, snow days, and hot cocoa are synonymous with the wintery season, these things – along with extended hot showers and heater usage – brew up a hot storm for our skin: flaky, drier than normal skin.
So what is all the fuss about skin barriers and why do we need to pay attention to it – especially now?
Skin barrier 101.
The skin barrier, a.k.a acid mantle and stratum corneum, is the outermost layer of the epidermis. Made up of brick-like skin cells, this layer is comprised of ceramides, fatty acids, and lipids that act as our first line of defense against harmful environmental toxins and pathogens. Think of it as your skin’s resident bouncer – it keeps all the bad stuff outside and protects everything inside.
What damages the skin barrier?
Both external and internal factors can affect the health of our skin barrier. Internally, genetics and stress can predispose us to skin conditions that create a weaker skin barrier (i.e. Eczema, Psoriasis, and Atopic Dermatitis). Aside from environmental pollutants, bacteria, and sun exposure, external conditions that damage the skin barrier include:
- Over-exfoliation and/or use of harsh chemicals - These treatments used in moderation are good for promoting circulation and removal of dead skin cells but excessive/frequent use can weaken the skin barrier, strip the skin of essential nutrients and lead to breakouts and irritation.
- Prolonged cold weather - Cold temperatures break down the moisture barrier, paving way for cracks, dryness, and irritation.
- Constant heater usage - Heaters lower humidity levels, further drying out and irritating the skin!
- Using alkaline products - Our skin is slightly acidic (pH: 4.5 to 6.2). Using products with a pH outside this range will disrupt the acid mantle (skin barrier). Try sticking with products closer to your skin’s pH.
How to tell if your skin barrier is damaged.
Redness, rough and textured skin, persistent dryness, tightness, and flaking are all sure signs of skin barrier damage.
5 ingredients (besides ceramide) that fortify and restore the skin barrier.
Panthenol is a humectant that attracts moisture and retains water in the skin, allowing it to hydrate from within. It also decreases inflammation and promotes wound healing.
Find panthenol in Lotus Essence Toner.
PRO TIP: Pour a suitable amount of Lotus onto thin cotton pads. Leave on skin for 15 minutes and remove afterwards for a deep hydration treatment.
Peptides are made of amino acids. They are essential to building protein, collagen, and elastin which reinforce and restore the skin barrier. Collagen peptides like Tripeptide-29 increase collagen synthesis and improve uneven skin texture.
Find Tripeptide-29 in Lavender Sleeping Mask.
Sodium hyaluronate can hold 1000 times its weight in water. Due to its small size, it can penetrate beyond the skin barrier to attract moisture and hydrate skin cells throughout the epidermis.
Find Sodium hyaluronate in Lotus Essence Toner.
Polyglutamic acid is a humectant that holds 5 times more water content than Hyaluronic Acid. It also forms a protective layer over the skin to prevent moisture loss and is known to inhibit hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down Hyaluronic Acid.
Find Polyglutamic acid in Lotus Essence Toner and Lavender Sleeping Mask.
Plant Oils like hemp phytocannabinoid (CBD), jojoba, and argan contain fatty acids that are essential to rebuilding the skin barrier. They are occlusives, meaning they retain moisture and prevent products from evaporating.
Find these beneficial oils in LIT Premium Facial Oil Blend.
PRO TIP: For an extra boost of hydration and to create a protective barrier for the skin, mix a few drops of LIT into your foundation or final skincare step.
Lifestyle changes and home additions to reduce skin barrier damage during the winter time.
- While your skin is healing, use gentle cleansers and products that contain less actives and more ceramides.
- Drink more water and less caffeine and alcohol. The latter two promote skin dehydration.
- Invest in a humidifier or place a bowl of cold water by your bedside. This creates condensation indoors to offset the drying effects of your indoor heating system.
- Eat foods rich in fatty acids and ceramides.
- Ceramides: wheat, beet, brown rice, sweet potato, soybeans, dairy, eggs
- Fatty acids: fish, flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts