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Build Your Barrier

by Dont Scratch on October 04, 2022

I had spoke in our last blog about how my husbands skin barrier totally broke down so now I want to share some tips on how to help protect and build this as having a thicker skin is the best defence against skin sensitivities.

Our skin is constantly working hard to try and protect itself from free radicals and irritants and so when our barrier becomes weakened it can cause our skin can become very dry, itchy and sensitive and so building up this surface layer can be the key to reducing skin sensitivity long term.

Our stratum corneum is a specialised layer that forms the outermost part of our epidermis and It is a vital front-line, protecting us against our environment; UV, pollution, infection and toxic chemicals.

Our skin barrier can be weakened by a number of factors including environmental stressors, your age even the colour of your skin as those with paler skins tend to be more prone to redness and irritation.

If our barrier is working well it will retain water effectively which means it will maintain good hydration and balance which in turn gives us a more radiant complexion.

On the other hand if it is not working well our skin will look dry, dull .  This weakness leaves our skin open to chemicals being able to penetrate more rapidly causing inflammation which then causes skin sensitivity.  Those suffering from reactive skin types such as Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis will find they have more breakouts and flare ups while their barrier is compromised.

The vicious circle then arises as the topical steroids we are prescribed to treat these flare ups cause our skin to thin so while reducing the inflammation this leaves us even more vulnerable to further irritants …..

So how can we build this barrier to give maximum protection?

1. Keep it SIMPLE

Over complicated skincare routines with products that contain a deluge of ingredients is a recipe for disaster for sensitive skin.  Stick to products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.  Simple but effective is the best advice I can give and remember to always use tepid water even when in the shower as hot water strips our skin of its natural oils.

2. Always check the label

As always with sensitive skin issues, reading the labels of your products is a must to make sure you’re getting the building blocks you need.  Niachinamide is a great ingredient to try as it boosts our ceramide production which improves the lipid barrier function.

3. Protect the PH

Detergents strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving our barrier dry, exposed and more susceptible to irritation. They also have an alkalising effect on the skin which throwing off pH balance and disrupting the skin's natural processes. We were advised by a dermatologist to use Surcare detergent which helped immensely however every now and again I will try to introduce some form of scent with even some of the non bio products however this never ends well!

4. Stress

When we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system releases ‘stress hormones’ such as adrenaline and cortisol.  These chemical responses can have a direct effect on our skins barrier. Chronic exposure to cortisol can inhibit our production of hyaluronic acid and collagen which is what keeps our skin hydrated.   Also, when we are stressed we tend to consume more sugar, more alcohol and get less sleep and all of the above will contribute to poor skin health and can lead to long term damage to our skin barrier.

5. Probiotics

Probiotics calm our natural immune triggers which can be overstimulated by pollution and stress.  they also reduce the damage these trigger cause ton collagen, elastin and our healthy cells.  Taking a probiotic helps to prevent and treat skin disorders including eczema, dermatitis, acne, skin hypersensitivity, uv skin damage and wound healing.  I tell all my clients that they must heal from the inside out the the gut and our skin are directly linked.

6. Think Microbiome

Like our gut, our skin has its own microbiome and it is composed of a variety of organisms including bacteria,archaea, fungi and even small arthropods.  It’s job is to regulate the immune response of the skin, lowering inflammation.  Chemicals from skincare products, clothes, soaps, stress and our diets can cause an imbalance in your skins Microbiome so it is important add oral supplements to your skincare routine, avoid harsh cleaners and try to use products that contain probiotics.

7.Don’t skimp on the SPF

No matter what the season WEAR A SPF!  

Leaving this step out of your skincare routine can weaken your skin barrier.  I know from experience that it can be difficult to find a spf that doesn’t cause sensitive skin to flare up so it is important to find one that doesn’t contain and fragrance and is also hydrating.

Some ingredients to avoid would be PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), which is a para-aminobenzoate, a UVB protector.

They will be listed on the ingredients as one of the below:

  • Amino benzoic acid, glyceryl amino benzoate, Ethyl-4-bis amino benzoate, Amyl dimethyl PABA, Glceryl PABA, Ethyl dihydroxypropyl PABA and Octyl dimethyl PABA (2-ethylhexyl dimethyl PABA).
  • Salicylates
  • Cinnamates
  • Benzophenones


We hope you find some of the above tips helpful and as always click our Chat Now button if you need any assistance with choosing the correct skincare to suit your needs.


Love DS x