If you've ever stood in front of the mirror, asking yourself: "why is my skin so sensitive?" You're in the right place. We know the rollercoaster of emotions it can be when one minute your skin is glowing and looking all sorts of fabulous, and the next, it's looking a little lackluster, dry, flaky, and irritated. The key to strengthening your sensitive skin lies in the skin barrier.
In this blog post, we dive deep into the skin barrier—what it does, how it gets damaged, and, most importantly, how to strengthen sensitive skin. Tougher skin coming right up. 💪
First things first, what is the skin barrier?
"Your skin barrier is the outermost portion of the epidermis," says Arizona-based dermatologist Brooke Grant Jeffy, MD. "The barrier consists of skin cells, lipids, amino acids, and sweat." The skin barrier's main job is to keep irritants like UV rays, bacteria, pollution, and toxins out and moisture in.
When the skin barrier is strong and healthy, your skin stays firm, hydrated, and radiant. When the skin barrier is compromised, however, your skin's overall health is compromised too. Think of the skin barrier as a wall of defense. If it's strong and solid, nothing can get in. But, if it's weak and has cracks in it, outside pollutants are more likely to make their way in and leave your skin feeling dry, inflamed, flaky, irritated, and sensitive.
So how exactly does the skin barrier function?
Great question! The epidermis's external layer (the fancy name for it is stratum corneum), Dr. Jeffy says, "is made of dead cells and lipids derived from oil glands creating what is called the acid mantle. These layers work together to protect us with the help of cellular processes under the surface."
Another essential thing to note is that most people who think they have sensitive skin really have a damaged skin barrier. "When the barrier is damaged, irritants can get through, causing reactions interpreted as sensitive skin," Dr. Jeffy says.
How does the skin barrier get damaged?
According to Dr. Jeffy, many environmental and lifestyle factors can damage and weaken the skin barrier, including:
- UV rays
- Exposure to pollutants
- Excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
- Not drinking enough water
- Using harsh cleansers
- Over exfoliating
- Not moisturizing the skin
- Hormone changes
How to strengthen sensitive skin
There are a few things you can do to maintain a healthy and strong skin barrier, namely addressing the environmental and lifestyle factors that tend to put a damper on it. Here's Dr. Jeffy's recommended action plan:
- SPF, baby: Wearing sunscreen is essential to keeping a healthy skin barrier. Make it part of your daily routine if it's not already. Pro tip: Dr. Jeffy recommends using more advanced sunscreens that also protect from environmental pollutants.
- Take care of your body: It's no secret that what we put in our body majorly affects our skin as well. So give your body some TLC by staying hydrated, avoiding smoking, and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. Your skin will thank you for it.
- Manage stress: Stress is the enemy of good skin. Do your part to manage it with things like meditation, exercise, therapy, and quality sleep.
- Be gentle: Although it may seem counter-intuitive, making your skin tougher requires you to be more gentle with it. That means avoiding harsh cleansers and over-exfoliating.
- Moisturize like it's your job: The skin barrier needs to be moisturized. Do it religiously. Dr. Jeffy recommends looking for moisturizers that contain ceramides or hyaluronic acid.
- Step up your skincare: The other skincare products in your arsenal can also help toughen up your sensitive skin. Dr. Jeffy's advice is to opt for products with antioxidants, such as niacinamide, to restore the skin barrier function.
Hero to the Rescue 🦸♀️
If you're looking for an easy way to toughen up your sensitive skin (because who doesn't love a good shortcut?), that's where Rescue Balm in. The post-blemish recovery balm is a sensitive skin superhero. It gives your skin the nutrient-rich moisture it needs to look healthier and more radiant and feel silky-smooth. As soon as you apply it, it melts into your skin and calms down redness, dryness, and irritation.
Rescue Balm's secret sauce is its trio of ingredients: beta-glucan, panthenol, and oligopeptides. Beta-glucan hydrates and soothes inflammation, and boasts lots of antioxidants. Panthenol helps boost the skin barrier function and speeds up the restorative process. And oligopeptides stimulate collagen production and help firm, smooth, and restores your skin's radiance. In other words, Rescue Balm is your secret weapon for strengthening sensitive skin.