How to Repair Your Skin’s Barrier

Tori Douglas

Global Digital

4 min read

Skincare Education

Discover how to restore your skin barrier in four simple steps.

close up of three groups of yellow liquid on white background

Having a healthy skin barrier is essential for maintaining clear, smooth, and comfortable skin. Unfortunately, our skin barrier can become damaged due to external factors like excessive sun exposure, air pollution, and harsh skin care products. Fortunately, it is possible to protect and repair the skin barrier with the right steps and products. Today, we’re sharing four simple steps you can take to help restore your skin barrier for healthy-looking, radiant skin.

What is the skin barrier, and why is it important?

The skin barrier, also known as the epidermis, is a thin protective layer of skin that serves as the first line of defense against external aggressors such as bacteria, pollution, and UV radiation. It's composed of a mix of natural oils, fatty acids, and skin cells that work together to keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and protected.

The skin barrier also helps regulate moisture levels within the skin by preventing water loss and retaining essential moisture. When the skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to a range of skin issues, including dryness, redness, sensitivity, and even breakouts.

What damages your skin barrier?

Some of the most damaging factors to your skin barrier include:

  • Harsh skincare products: Using harsh soaps, exfoliators, and skincare products with high concentrations of active ingredients–such as retinol and AHA–can damage your protective barrier. These products can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, flakiness, and irritation.
  • Environmental stressors: Pollution, UV rays, and extreme weather conditions can damage your skin barrier by depleting its natural antioxidants and breaking down collagen. This can lead to visible signs of premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Over-exfoliation: Over-exfoliating and over-washing can strip away the natural lipid barrier and damage your skin barrier. It can also cause micro-tears in the skin, leading to irritation and inflammation.
  • Poor diet: Consuming processed foods and sugar in excess can trigger inflammation and lead to skin issues like acne and eczema.
  • Lack of sleep: Sleep is a crucial time for your skin to repair and regenerate. Inadequate or compromised sleep can weaken the skin barrier and lead to dryness, irritation, and inflammation.

By understanding the root cause of damage, you can take the necessary steps to prevent further damage and start the skin barrier repair process.

How to restore and protect your skin barrier

When it comes to restoring and protecting your skin barrier, you’ll need to consider your daily habits and implement skin barrier repair products.

1. Simplify your skincare routine

If your skin barrier is compromised, you're likely to be experiencing increased sensitivity and irritation. This makes simplifying your skincare routine an essential step to minimize further irritation and inflammation. There are three essential steps to any skincare routine: cleanse, moisturize, and protect.

To start, hone in on these three steps by choosing a gentle cleanser and toner, a hydrating serum and/or emulsion, as well as a nourishing moisturizer and lightweight SPF. Rid your skincare routine of exfoliants and products containing active ingredients, or adopt a skin cycling routine to give your skin time to replenish between uses. A compromised skin barrier can take anywhere from a few weeks up to six months to heal with the right regimen, so it's important to stick to the products that your skin responds well to and be consistent with your routine during this time.

Our skincare recommendation: Crème Ancienne is our restorative face cream with a luxuriously rich texture to intensely nourish, visibly restore, and improve the skin's stability. Handmade with skin-softening meadowfoam seed oil, protective vitamin E, moisture-preserving beeswax, and soothing chamomile wax, it's ideal for those with delicate, fragile skin. For those who want the same benefits with a softer, whipped texture, Crème Ancienne Soft Cream is your go-to.

2. Restore your skin with antioxidants

Help replace depleted skin lipids by incorporating antioxidant-rich ingredients into your daily skincare regimen. Ceramides and niacinamide are helpful for replenishing the skin barrier, while hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and panthenol will help your skin retain water. Aloe, calendula, and chamomile extracts have also proven effective in soothing the skin, so be sure to look for skincare products that contain these types of ingredients.

Our skincare recommendation: Tea Elixir Skin Resilience Activating Serum is formulated with a base of antioxidant-rich Adaptive Phytocompound Tea (APT) Technology™, plus niacinamide, 5kDA hyaluronic acid, and ceramide III. This powerhouse facial serum not only replenishes the skin barrier, but it builds resilience, too. A few drops pressed into clean skin, morning and night, will see your skin looking smoother and more bouncy while helping it function at its full potential.

3. Make hydration a priority

A weak skin barrier allows for a faster loss of moisture, making hydration a key element of skin comfort and health. Proper hydration will help improve dryness, redness, and irritation, so opt for skin-loving ingredients when choosing your products. While serums can contain hydrating ingredients and moisturizers are non-negotiable, an often overlooked product that can be extremely beneficial in the process of restoring and protecting your skin barrier are emulsions. These lightweight, silky formulas are easily absorbed into the skin and provide deep, long-lasting hydration.

Our skincare recommendation: Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Emulsion is a replenishing formula that boasts a weightless finish while balancing the skin's natural oil-water hydration. Ideal for all skin types, it can be used alone or in combination with moisturizer to deliver gentle ingredients such as soothing rose flower oil, smoothing yarrow extract, and strengthening damask rose extract. Used daily, it can help effectively plump, refresh, and soften skin.

4. Support your skin with healthy habits

Your daily skincare can go a long way in helping the restoration process, but if the habits that contributed to the damage don't change, you're fighting a losing battle. It’s vital to combat lifestyle stressors if you want to win the war for wonderful skin. Taking small steps every day–such as improving the quality of your sleep, minimizing dietary triggers, and wearing SPF (and reapplying every two hours during the day!)–will keep your skin looking and feeling its best year-round.

Enjoy fresh skin everyday

Choose skincare products you can trust to keep your skin looking healthy, radiant, and fresh! When you select skincare, body care, or fragrances from fresh, you're guaranteed safety, efficacy, and sensoriality. Our products are formulated with the best ingredients and backed by science to create experiences that transform. Shop fresh.

Author Profile
blog author tori

Tori Douglas

Global Digital

Written by Tori Douglas for Fresh. Tori is a NYC-based digital and brand strategist. Tori has worked for various publications and brands such as Kiehl's, The Body Shop, Deux Hommes Magazine, and Elite Daily with her expertise lying in the fashion & beauty space.