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Everything You Need to Know About Skin Barrier Damage and How to Repair It

Taking care of your skin is more important than covering it up.

Can Skin Barrier Be Permanently Damaged

Can your skin barrier be permanently damaged?

The short answer is NO! Most barrier damages could be repaired.

And it is very rare to damage your skin barrier permanently. As the epidermis turns over every 40–56 days, meaning your dead skin cells get replaced by new skin cells every 40-56 days.

However, due to certain factors like genetics, aging, etc., your skin barrier could be at a higher risk of breaking down. Even in the case of severe damage, dermatologists can recommend tips and products to improve the condition.

Now let’s dive into some key questions about your skin barrier to help you keep your skin healthy and happy.

Disclosure: Please note this post might contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission if you purchase through the links, at no extra cost to you. Know that I only recommend products that I’ve used personally or believe will add value to my readers.

What Is Your Skin Barrier?

What Is Your Skin Barrier?

Your skin has layers.

And you can think of the outer one (the top layer of epidermis), the stratum corneum, like a tough brick wall. It’s made up of strong skin cells held together by things like ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This is what we call skin barrier.

Now, why is this barrier so important?

Well, it’s like the guard for your body, keeping out harmful stuff and making sure your body doesn’t lose water.

So a healthy skin barrier not only makes your skin look good but is also vital for your overall health. Without it, things like environmental toxins and germs could enter into your body.

If your skin barrier is off duty, water would escape from your body, and your natural moisture gets lost.

So, taking care of your skin barrier is so important.

How to Know Skin Barrier Is Damaged

How to Know Skin Barrier Is Damaged

Whenever something is going wrong inside your body, it shows symptoms, and guess what? Your skin does the same.

When your skin barrier gets damaged, you’ll notice some signs. Here are a few common ones you’ll start noticing if your skin barrier is damaged.

  • Dry, Scaly Skin: Your skin feels dry and looks flaky.
  • Itchiness: Constant urge to scratch? Your skin barrier might be damaged.
  • Lack of Skin Elasticity: Missing that bounce in your skin? Your skin might be losing its natural elasticity.
  • Noticeable Rough or Discolored Patches: If your skin doesn’t feel smooth or has odd discoloration, your barrier could be compromised.
  • Acne: Unexpected breakouts? Your skin barrier might be struggling.
  • Sensitive or Inflamed Areas: If you find that your skin is getting easily irritated and more sensitive than usual, it’s a sign that your skin barrier needs attention.
  • Visible Bacterial, Viral, or Fungal Infections: Noticing unusual infections on your skin? It could be a sign of a weakened barrier.
  • Water Loss: If your skin is thirsty and lacks moisture, your barrier might not be holding up.
  • Wrinkles: Fine lines appearing? Your skin barrier might need some TLC.
  • Dull Skin: Is your skin lacking its usual glow? It could be a sign of a compromised skin barrier.
  • Delayed Wound Healing: If your skin takes longer to heal, your skin barrier is asking for help.

Take note of these signs—they could be signaling that your skin barrier needs a boost!

What Does a Damaged Skin Barrier Look Like?

What Does a Damaged Skin Barrier Look Like?

The symptoms could be any of the ones you learned about earlier.

Let me share a photo that a YouTuber posted when her skin had a compromised barrier. Her face looked really red and irritated, more than it had ever been before.

Can Damaged Skin Barrier Be Repaired?

The good news is yes, you can repair it!

Fixing your skin barrier isn’t too tough if you’re doing the right things. Taking good care of your skin is the key to keeping it healthy.

Here is how you can repair and strengthen the skin barrier with a few simple ways.

Avoid Too Many Products

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 1

If your skincare routine is getting too complicated with lots of products, simplify it. Too many active ingredients can weaken your skin barrier.

Instead of trying to fix every skin issue all at once, focus on the main concerns first.

If you’re not sure, talk to a dermatologist or skin care professional to help you out.

And if your barrier is already damaged, stop using actives and stick to a basic skincare routine.

Prioritize Moisturizing

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 2

Moisturizers are like superheroes for your skin. They fix up your skin barrier and makes your skin look healthy.

It doesn’t matter what your skin type is, moisturizing is a must in your daily skincare routine.

When choosing a moisturizer, go for the ones with humectants and occlusives. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin are examples of humectants, and petrolatum is an example of an occlusive.

Humectants pull moisture from the air and keep it in your skin. Occlusives work by locking in that moisture.

Focus On Skin Nourishing Elements

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 3

Whether your skin barrier is damaged or healthy, adding nourishing stuffs to your skincare routine always helps your skin. These could be ceramides, lipids, hyaluronic acids, vitamin B5 etc.

These goodies keep your skin barrier healthy and make sure it works right.

If your skin’s barrier is damaged, it might be missing these helpful ingredients. So, when you’re fixing up your skin barrier, make sure to include them in your skincare routine. 

Don’t Over Exfoliate

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 4

Not exfoliating the right way is a common cause of damaged skin barriers.

Exfoliating can make your skin brighter, but doing it wrong or too often can mess up your skin barrier. If your skin barrier is already damaged, you need to stop exfoliating.

Using a strong chemical exfoliant and exfoliating too often can damage your barrier. You might see signs like redness, flaking, or irritation.

If you’re using physical exfoliators, make sure they’re gentle on your skin. As harsh scrubs can create micro tears, damaging your skin barrier. Go gentle in small circles with light pressure.

These scrubs are a big no if you have skin conditions like open wounds, sunburn, or active acne.

When exfoliating, also think about restoring your skin barrier. Ceramides are best for this. And don’t forget to generously apply sunscreen the day after you exfoliate.

Protect Your Skin From Sun

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 5

Harsh UV rays can harm your skin barrier and make your skin age faster. That’s why using sunscreen regularly is a must. It helps prevent sunburns and, more importantly, lowers the risk of skin cancer.

Also, protect your skin from the sun by wearing long sleeves, sunglasses, especially in hot and rainy months.


Say No to Hot Water

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 6

Washing your skin with hot water can damage your skin barrier. You may notice signs like dryness and itchiness.

According to a study, hot water makes your skin lose moisture more than 1.5 times faster than cold water. This means your skin will dry out quickly when exposed to hot water.

Instead, go for cold or lukewarm water- it’s way healthier for your skin.

Don’t Wash Too Often

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 7

If your skin stays in water for a long time, your skin barrier won’t function properly. This can cause more damage, especially if the water is hot.

Gentle Cleanser Is a Must

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 8

Believing that a cleanser, leaving your skin squeaky clean, is the best?

Well, it can actually take away your skin’s natural oils, making your skin barrier weaker.

The harsh surfactants in these cleansers can mess with your skin’s proteins and lipids, leaving your skin tight and dry after washing. This can lead to barrier damage and irritation.

So, always pick a gentle cleanser. Just a bit of those surfactants is enough to clean without harming your skin’s proteins and lipids.

And make sure it contains some occlusives, humectants, and skin lipids to keep your skin well-hydrated.

Make Your Lifestyle Healthy

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 9

A healthy lifestyle is just as vital as a good skincare routine for your skin. A nutritious diet filled with nutrient-rich foods and healthy fats can make your skin look and feel its best.

On the flip side, habits like smoking, stress, and not getting enough sleep can damage your skin. So, if you’re into these habits, it’s time to ditch them.

Try Plant Oil

How to Repair Damaged Skin Barrier- Tip 10

Studies reveal that some plant oils can help repair your skin barrier and prevent moisture loss. Plus, these oils come with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits.

  • Jojoba oil- for all skin types
  • Coconut oil- dry, may or may not suit normal skin type
  • Sweet almond oil- all skin types
  • Argan oil-  for all skin types
  • Rosehip oil- for all skin types
  • Sunflower oil-for all skin types
  • Avocado oil- dry, normal 

Pro Tips

  • If you have sensitive skin, talk to a dermatologist before trying out oil on your skin.
  • If you’re allergic to any ingredients, avoid them.
  • For personalized advice, consult a dermatologist or esthetician, especially if you have specific concerns or underlying skin conditions.

Skin Barrier Repair Products

Check out these top products in India that can help you repair and strengthen your skin barrier.

Gentle Cleansers

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser |Dry to Normal Skin with Niacinamide |Dermatologist Recommended- Check Out on Nykaa
  • Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser for Acne-prone Skin with Niacinamide- Check Out on Nykaa
  • Dot & Key Barrier Repair Hydrating Gentle Face Wash- Check Out on Nykaa
  • Minimalist 6% Oat Extract Gentle Cleanser With Hyaluronic Acid For Sensitive Skin- Check Out on Nykaa

Hyaluronic Acid Products for Hydration

Ceramide Products for Healthy Barrier

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream For Dry To Very Dry Skin With Ceramides & Hyaluronic Acid- Check Out on Nykaa  

Dot & Key Barrier Repair Ceramides & Hyaluronic Hydrating Face Cream With Probiotics- Check Out on Nykaa 

The Face Shop Rice & Ceramide Moisturizing Emulsion, Locks Skin Moisture & Strengthens Skin Barrier- Check Out on Nykaa

Minimalist 0.3% Ceramide Barrier Repair Moisturizing Cream For Oily Skin- Check Out on Nykaa 

Suganda Squalane Ceramide Moisturiser -Barrier Repair With Soothing Madecassoside (Unscented)- Check Out on Nykaa

Pro Tips

  • If your skin barrier is severely damaged, it’s always best to consult a dermatologist first. 
  • If you’re unsure about what’s best for you, a skin doctor can help you. 

Final Thoughts

A healthy skin barrier does more than just make your skin look good. It is like the gatekeeper between your whole body and outside things.

Maintaining it isn’t hard; you just need to do the right things for your skin. So, here, you’ve got what you need to know to keep your barrier healthy and strong.


Will Skin Barrier Heal on Its Own?

If you’ve got a damaged skin barrier, it can heal naturally over time, especially when you help it along. Just make sure to avoid the things that irritated your skin and caused the damage to the barrier.

Why Do Skin Barrier Get Damaged?

There could be a bunch of internal and external factors that can damage your skin barrier.
1. Too humid or too dry environment
2. Allergens, irritants, and pollutants
3. Too much sun exposure
4. Alkaline detergents and soaps
5. Harsh chemicals
6. Over-exfoliation or over-washing
7. Medications like steroids
8. Psychological distress
9. Genetic factors that may make you more prone to certain skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis
10. Aging

How Long Does It Take To Repair Skin Barrier?

If you do the right things to help your damaged skin barrier heal, your skin will try to recover as quickly as possible. The time it takes depends on the severity of the damage. You can expect your skin barrier to improve anywhere from 3-4 weeks to upwards of three months.

Image Source: Adobe Stock, YouTube @MichelleKanemitsu

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