1 Simple rule to healthy skin
I've got 4 words for you… maintain the moisture barrier. When you do, the skin will be healthier, softer and smoother. But what is this moisture barrier I speak of?
Well, the top layer of the skin, the epidermis, has dead skin cells filled with NMF - Natural Moisturizing Factors. NMF is a mix of hydrating heavyweights like urea, PCA, glycerol, hyaluronic acid and a bunch of other stuff.
Surrounding the dead skin cells are lipids like cholesterol, ceramides and fatty acids.
NMF attracts water and the lipids keep the water in. Together, they form a moisture barrier that helps keeps moisture in and bad microbes out. The skin stays smooth, hydrated and healthy as a result.
The moisture barrier is like armor, and like armor, it can get stripped. When the moisture barrier is stripped, the skin is dry, irritated, itchy, sensitive, tight, extra oily...
It's not a good time.
Symptoms of a damaged moisture barrier
With the moisture barrier stripped the skin can be:
rough or dull because dead skin cells can't shed without enough moisture.
flaky, dry or tight because the natural skin lipids which help soften and smooth are gone.
sensitive because there's no armor preventing infection. Infection usually leads to irritation which leads to inflammation.
congested or spotty because microbes feed on the excess oil cause inflammation.
very oily and very dry at the same time, in different parts of the face. Wooi!
Causes of a damaged moisture barrier
A common cause for a damaged moisture barrier is poor cleansing. So many people tell me they use fake African black soap, body soap, Sunlight bars or shower gel to wash their face. OMG staaapp! Abeg.
These soaps usually have a high pH (6.0+) which is too harsh for the skin.
The moisture barrier has a low pH of 4.0 - 6.0 to reduce the chances of infection. Bad microbes can't deal with that acidic ish. When you use a high pH cleanser, it strips the barrier, leaving the skin tight, dry and prone to infection.
A gentle cleanser of pH 5.5 or less should leave your skin feeling clean, soft and plump.
Age, sun damage, skin care with fragrance, clay, dyes, some alcohols and actives (like retinoids) can strip the skin too.
How to heal a damaged moisture barrier
Ditch the product that is causing the damage in the first place. If it's a stripping cleanser, getchu a pH balanced one like the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser.
So add a soothing moisturizer to your routine e.g. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 to heal the skin.
You need to hydrate the skin. Compensate for the water loss with humectants like honey, aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, squalane. Humectants hold and bind water to the skin.
Load up on different toners, mists and serums with such ingredients.
On top of the humectants, apply an occlusive like Vaseline or plant oils to seal the moisture on the skin.
Use skincare that has barrier repairing ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream is great.
Always. Because UV radiation dries the skin. Uncle Baz told y'all. If you have dark skin like I do, Dr. Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield is sooo good! You won't look like an oily, purple/blue mess with it.
Don’t believe the water hype
Don't go overboard drinking water, it won't really help to hydrate the skin. Plus hyponatremia, death from drinking too much water, is real.
Anyone who tells you to drink more than a litre of water per hour is not your friend. Yes, I'm looking at that ‘I drink water and magically clear my skin’ club.
Depending on the damage, it can take days or weeks to heal the moisture barrier. Once it's healed, you’ll notice the skin looks healthier, feels softer and smoother.
I kid you not, after properly cleansing my face, the skin got healthy fast! Eczema and those tu-rashes on my forehead didn't know what hit them.
What about you? What skincare tip changed your life? Without a doubt, learning how to maintain the moisture barrier is mine.
I have plenty more to share, click here to book a skincare consult so I can tell you more!