If you have sensitive skin, you may think this is your skin type for life. Think again!
Thankfully with today’s advancements in skin-repairing products, your sensitive skin may be a thing of the past.
Understanding the barrier of your skin
An impaired barrier can cause premature ageing, itchiness and red skin. When we make the top layer of our skin strong, we can then improve the functionality of your skin’s health.
The skin barrier is located in the very top layer of your skin called the stratum corneum. It consists of corneocytes (flattened skin cells), ceramides (waxy lipid molecules), cholesterol and free fatty acids. Think of the skin barrier as a brick wall: The corneocytes are the bricks and the ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids are the mortar, or cement, holding those bricks together.
The skin barrier is composed of a mixture of fats and water, the hydro-lipid film. The water component of the hydro-lipid film is called the acid mantle since its main role is to keep your skin’s pH mildly acidic, which is the optimal environment for healthy microorganisms to flourish and for harmful microorganisms to die.
Once the skin barrier is weakened and the "mortar" is no longer able to hold the cells together and keep moisture in, irritants (bacteria, pollution, allergens, chemicals, etc.) are able to penetrate the skin, causing inflammation. Skin can become red, itchy, flaky, swollen, cracked and painful. Eczema, psoriasis, and breakouts are common with a compromised barrier, as are dullness, sagging and fine lines.
Your skin barrier is responsible for all aspects of your skin’s health. The lipids in the skin barrier provide softness, bind skin cells together and help to prevent dehydration by keeping water molecules and natural moisturiser factors (NMF) locked inside the stratum corneum ensuring firmness and plumpness. They also prevent bacteria, allergens, and environmental pollutants from penetrating the skin and triggering inflammation. This means that if you want your skin to look calm, uplifted and glowing, then your skin barrier must be nourished and remain healthy.
Ingredients to avoid if you have sensitive skin.
The following skincare ingredients are to be avoided to prevent compromising sensitive skin.
Artificial fragrance – the number one cause of skin irritation
Certain essential oils – never apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin
Acidic products – often not tolerated by clients with sensitive skin. It is best to avoid AHA’s (particularly glycolic) and L-ascorbic acid.
Artificial colour – irritation is due to the small particle size which may penetrate the skin surface
Chemically based sunscreens – a common skin irritant
Alcohol-based products – these dry the skin surface and makes the barrier more susceptible to irritation from other ingredients.
How to improve the skin’s barrier.
Step 1a: A Repairing Oil
Use a lipid base repairing oil at night to help improve the lipid barrier of the skin. Our recommendations:
Include a moisturiser that is formulated to help improve the skin’s barrier repair. By using an anti-inflammatory moisturiser you will help to reduce water evaporation and improve the natural moisturising factor of your skin.
As we think of the skin as a brick wall, sometimes the cement that holds the bricks can crumble away, the same can happen in a compromised skin barrier, if the wall has become unsteady. By rebuilding the skin's barrier we need to fill in the cement so that your skin gets more tolerant, less irritated and improve skin immunity. Your skin can start functioning properly and become more resilient.
Probiotics have been shown to stimulate the immunity of the skin and protect it from irritation and stress. An in vivo study of 20 volunteers showed that skin treated with probiotic lysates showed a reduction in stinging, water loss and barrier dysfunction.
Prebiotics provide the ‘food’ for the good bacteria living on your skin. It provides a nutritional source for the good bacteria, whilst inhibiting overgrowth of the harmful bacteria.
Help reduce Sensitive Skin with Skin Nutrients and Diet.
While improving the skin’s barrier it is also important to help reduce inflammation from within. Is your diet causing inflammation, are you on medication that can cause inflammation therefore gut health should be addressed.
Avoid the following INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Refined carbohydrates (particularly white bread, rice and pasta)
It is vital to keep your skin’s barrier strong in order for your skin to age well, have optimum skin health and be able to tolerate any cosmeceutical actives or skin treatments. A good skin barrier = healthy looking glowing skin.
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