The best way to treat an impaired skin barrier. | Skin Virtue
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The best way to treat an impaired skin barrier.

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Ever gone overboard with active skincare ingredients? Or suddenly noticed you have really itchy, tight, stinging skin? That, friend, is the sign of a compromised skin barrier.

And while we all know what a skin barrier is a why it’s so important (hint: it’s basically your skin’s bodyguard), what you might not know is how to repair it.

This study and those found in Towards Optimal pH of the Skin and Topical Formulations: From the Current State of the Art to Tailored Products show one of the most important ways to repair an impaired skin barrier is to focus on the pH of your skin.

So, we’ve pulled together the very best tips on how to fix a compromised skincare barrier. According to Skin Virtue’s founder Nina Gajic, here’s what you need to do straight away.

How to repair skin barrier.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that it takes time to repair your skin’s barrier, so don’t expect immediate results - it can take anywhere from one to four weeks for it to improve. Yes, really!

According to Gajic, the best thing you can do is to focus on improving the skin barrier function. “This will help to reduce transepidermal water loss,” she said.

In order to do this, you’re going to want to look for certain formulations – those that that provide high quality lipids (such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol) and help to increase the skin’s ceramide production ability.

Below, are six essential hydrating ingredients Gajic recommends incorporating into your routine.

1. Occlusives.

First on the list? Occlusives. They’re known as a godsend for dry, dehydrated skin. And for good reason.

“Occlusives form a thin layer of oil on the surface of the skin which helps to prevent the evaporation of water from the skin,” explains Gajic. “They trap moisture in the skin from escaping.”

By mimicking the skin’s natural lipid barrier, they also have protective qualities, preventing external irritants from messing with the skin.

“Occlusives work best when applied after bathing or serum application,” adds Gajic.

The best go to products with occlusives can be found in our entire Pure Nourish Collection and our Future Advanced Firming Mask.

2. Humectants.

Next up – humectants. “Humectants are hydrophilic - they draw water from both the dermis (to the epidermis) and the environment, they help to attract and retain moisture in the skin,” explains Gajic.

“They work best in humid environments and can have a contra effect in dry environments where they can draw moisture from the skin, which in effect can increases skin dryness.”

Meaning? They work best in a synergistic formulation - which brings us to our next ingredient: emollients.

3. Emollients.

“Emollients soften the skin and replenish lipids between corneocytes in the stratum corneum,” said Gajic.

They basically act as a filler between the skin cells (kind of like grout) and help to form a barrier to protect the skin. How cool is that?

“They also provide important sensory characteristics to a formulation, smoothing the skin surface. They can feel greasy, oily, sticky or velvety depending on how they are applied within the formulation.”

4. Ceramides.

Along with looking for ingredients and formulations that protect the skin barrier, Gajic said supporting ingredients are just as important.

“They help to restore the lipid barriers ability to attract, hold and redistribute water,” she explains.

One of the best skin barrier supporting ingredients in the business? Ceramides.

Ceramides are something that’s found naturally within the skin; however, your supply can reduce over time. Supplementing essential ceramides into your routine to maintain and strengthen your natural skin barrier will help to prevent dryness and irritation.

“Ceramides play an important role in skin barrier support - they help to moisturise, strengthen and protect the skin barrier,” said Gajic.

Along with ceramides, Gajic said ingredients such as “fatty acids, amino acids, elastin, glycerin, silicones, zinc oxide, squalene, AHA’s all have moisturising and barrier-restoring properties.”

5. Niacinamide.

Another hard-working and versatile ingredient that strengthens our skin barrier and addresses a whole range of other skin issues? Niacinamide.
“Topical ingredients such as niacinamide increases free fatty acid ceramide levels in the skin, stimulates micro-circulation in the dermis, and prevents the skin from losing water,” explains Gajic.

Due to its ability to improve the skin’s barrier, niacinamide also helps to reduce the impact of environmental damage and repair signs of past damage – so it’s a true all-rounder.

We recommend our Future Advanced Serumist and Future Advanced Brightening for your Niacinamide fix.

6. Liposomes and ionosomes.

According to Gajic, delivery systems such as liposomes and ionosomes also improve both skin hydration and barrier function.

“A liposome is a small capsule composed of one or more phospholipid bilayers,” explains Gajic. “It is similar in structure with the skin lipid composition and easily and safely penetrates and metabolised within the skin.”

Liposomes are like little vehicles and can contain various compounds inside of the capsule and/or between the bilayers to deliver them deep into the skin.

Pretty cool, huh?

“Besides the encapsulated ingredients own effect, liposomes easily penetrate the skin, targeting the encapsulated active ingredient to the desired site of action, leading to higher efficacy.”

Further to this, Gajic said liposomes can “highly interact with skin lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates helping the skin to return to a normal state and making the stratum corneum perform its defensive function properly.”

When it comes to ionosomes, these are an encapsulation technology that usually provide hydrophilic active ingredients (ingredients that are attracted to water), as well as protection of hydrophilic active ingredients in a charged formulation.

These guys effectively penetrate the skin and deliver hydrophilic ingredients deep into the skin rather than onto the surface.

Out of our many products that contain these delivery systems our hero is the Future Advanced Vitality Cream.

Have you compromised your skin barrier before? Share your views with us at

By Gary Williams, Bio