5 Ingredients That Will Actually Repair Your Skin Barrier

woman demonstrating methods of repairing skin barrier

Updated 3/13/24. In recent years, the emphasis on maintaining a healthy and resilient skin barrier has surged in popularity, yet the ingredients responsible for repair aren’t often talked about. As we approach 2024, a discernible trend is emerging – a shift towards skincare product formulations that speak to the science behind barrier repair.

In case you don’t know about the skin’s barrier, here is what you first need to know.

The moisture barrier is the outermost layer of the skin that helps retain water and protects it from external aggressors, like bacteria and environmental debris. Think of it like your skin’s personal bodyguard, which helps keep the good in and the bad out. It’s made up of lipids (oils) that bind your skin cells together. When intact, it’s responsible for keeping skin feeling soft and smooth. When the moisture barrier becomes damaged (such as from over-exfoliation, retinol, and the use of harsh products), small, invisible cracks appear. Through these cracks, moisture can easily escape and irritants can easily enter. The skin may start to feel tight, dry, and sensitive. Essentially, it’s like your skin lost its protective bodyguard – and it needs to be fixed!

So, What Ingredients and Methods are Best to Repair Your Barrier?

From a product formulation standpoint, these are five effective ways to repair a compromised barrier that you need to know about when choosing skincare products. 

1. Use products containing Niacinamide at approximately 2-4%

This versatile ingredient plays a crucial role in not just repairing the skin barrier but also promoting overall skin health. Niacinamide is most beneficial in serums or moisturizers left on the skin, so it has time to penetrate the skin’s upper layers and go to work.

2. Use products containing usnic acid (usnea)

Usnic acid is a natural extract from lichens that is a gentle solution for barrier repair. It balances skin’s microbiome, leaving it feeling soothed. Usnic acid can be found in products in the form of sodium usnate or Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract.

3. Use products that contain ceramides, essential fatty acids, and fatty acids

These ingredients work in harmony to strengthen and replenish the skin barrier, providing the essential building blocks for healthy skin. Look for ingredients like phytosphingosine, ceramide AP, and ceramide NP. Phytosterols are also great for barrier repair and very similar to ceramides as they’re part of the skin’s structure.

4. Use products that contain plant oils rich in fatty acids and omegas

Incorporating plant oils into our routines helps nourish the skin with essential fatty acids and omegas, promoting barrier recovery. Shea butter, jojoba oil and squalene have components similar to the structure of human sebum, making them a natural fit to protect your skin’s barrier. 

Plant oils rich in omegas are Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Flaxseed Oil.

You can either use a moisturizer full of plant oils or apply a few drops of Pro Remedy Oil as the last step of your skincare routine to lock moisture in– here’s how to apply it the correct way.

5. Use products with occlusive ingredients 

Occlusives in skincare refer to ingredients that create a barrier on the skin’s surface, helping to prevent water loss and enhance moisture retention. It’s a common misconception that occlusive ingredients (like ceramides, squalane, and shea butter) clog pores or don’t allow your skin to breathe. In reality, the right amount of occlusive ingredients is required to create a protective seal, preventing moisture loss and aiding in barrier repair. Sunflower oil is an occlusive plant oil found in Phytolipid Comfort Creme that works to repair skin’s moisture barrier function.

Look for the following occlusive ingredients when shopping for barrier-repairing products.

BONUS: Hydrating Ingredients

While hydrating ingredients aren’t going to repair the barrier on their own, they provide a lot of additional support! Deep, long-lasting hydration provided by plant-derived humectants, like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, play a crucial role in restoring and maintaining skin health. This hydration can improve the skin’s overall appearance and function, which can indirectly support the barrier repair process.

As many brands tout barrier repair claims, understanding the science of how a product achieves this has grown increasingly important. Many brands will claim a moisturizer or mask will repair the barrier but it’s really important to understand how a product achieves this.  I hope this has brought you some clarity when it comes to the ‘how’ of effective barrier repair. Now you can ensure your skincare choices align with the facts behind healthy, glowing skin.

Disclaimer: Content found on www.ReneeRouleau.com and Blog.ReneeRouleau.com, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.

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