How To Repair Your Skin Barrier From The Inside Out

Hailey Bieber claims that the secret to her gorgeous, glowing skin is drinking a $20 skincare smoothie every day and using her favorite products from Rhode Skin. Can a smoothie truly help you have glowing skin? Well, the answer isn’t so simple. The more relevant question is how do you use nutrition and products to support a healthy skin barrier? If our skin barrier isn’t supported, it will develop redness, dry patches, or irritation. It will not be luminous, smooth, or vibrant. Good nutrition and a good skincare routine can be very a transformative combo for skin health. 

So, let’s talk about how to rebuild your skin barrier from the inside out. We’ll cover doctor recommendations, nutrition, and products that will help you get that glazed glow. 

What is the skin barrier?

Photocred: Dermascope Magazine

The skin has multiple layers. The first and thickest layer is called the dermis, and it is full of collagen as well as elastin, the strong and stretchy stuff. The top layers are called the “epidermis,” and finally, the acid mantle or “moisture barrier” lies on top. The acid mantle is a combination of sebum (oil) produced by your sebaceous glands and amino acids found in your sweat.Without it, your skin is wide open for invasion and dehydration. The acid mantle protects our skin, but sometimes it gets damaged. Moisture-stripping products, fragranced products, and conditions like atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or even acne can damage the skin barrier. 

As we mentioned before, the acid mantle is primarily composed of oil, but what if you have oily skin and still need to repair your barrier?

Well, Cassandra has very oily skin, and yes, even she’s been getting irritation, dryness, flaking, and peeling around her nose and mouth. But fortunately, she has products at home to help rebuild a healthy skin barrier. However, choosing a skincare routine for barrier repair is not a one-size-fits-all. But, in general, it is important to avoid heavy fragrances, sun exposure, and stress as these things can impair barrier function and decrease ceramides.

How should I choose a skin care product for barrier repair?

Fifty percent of the outside layer of your skin is made up of something called ceramides. Ceramides are wonderful and nourishing. But, when our skin barrier is damaged, they begin to dwindle. Our skin barrier or acid mantle is also made of cholesterol, triglycerides, fatty acids, and antioxidants. So, nourishing the skin with these types of ingredients is super important. Look for non-fragranced moisturizers, antioxidant serums, and plant oils like jojoba and squalane.

Look for products that deliver actives for damaged skin. 

Of course, there are a multitude of products that contain the ingredients previously listed so how do you pick? One of the most important features is the formula and delivery system. A good delivery system helps our skin absorb the product properly. Have you ever used a product that just sat on top of your skin or perhaps it had great ingredients, but it just didn’t do what it needed to do? It could be because the delivery system is poor. 

“One of the major factors in a good delivery system is the concentration of active ingredients. The higher the concentration of a particular ingredient, the more the skin will try to absorb it, leading to more of the active ingredient ultimately being relocated into the deeper layers of the skin” (Skin Inc, 2023). 

Actives are ingredients proven to work for a certain skin condition. Some active ingredients for a damaged skin barrier includeceramides, cholesterol, niacinamide, peptides, hyaluronic acid, beta-glucans, and antioxidants. Yes, some oils like shea butter and coconut oil can also improve barrier function, but used alone, they might irritate the skin. If you don’t pick products that match your skin type,choosing the wrong product can damage the skin even more. So, first, look for a product geared towards your skin type, and search the label for active ingredients that improve barrier function. 

Know and look for ingredients to avoid

When you have a damaged skin barrier, especially if you have a condition like atopic dermatitis or acne, your skin could definitely struggle with fragrance, additives, and alcohol. So, look out for fragrances and alcohol-free options. But remember, not all alcohol is bad. There are some hydrating and nourishing alcohols like the following (Iren Shizen, 2023).

  • Cetyl alcohol: Thickens products
  • Stearyl alcohol: Traps moisture in the skin
  • Cetearyl alcohol: An emulsifier
  • Propylene alcohol: A humectant to draw moisture to the skin
  • Lauryl alcohol: Used as a surfactant
  • Myristyl alcohol: An emollient and a stabilizer that prevents moisture loss

But if you see denatured alcohol or the following on a product, you’ll probably want to avoid these (Iren Shizen, 2023).

  • SD alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Ethanol/Ethyl alcohol
  • Methanol/Methyl alcohol
  • Propanol/Propyl alcohol
  • C alcohol
  • Methylated spirit
  • Denatured rectified spirit

If you have a damaged skin barrier, these might dehydrate the outside of the skin and get rid of some of our skin’s nourishing and natural oils. So, in regards to Cassandra’s favorite alcohol and fragrance-free products with actives for a compromised barrier and oily skin, these are her favorites. 

What products work for a damaged skin barrier and oily skin?

Ceramedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream -$18.99 

This is similar to CerVe, except it's plant-based. This is wonderful, but it’s very thick so Cassandra doesn’t really use it during the day for her oily-prone skin. Instead, she uses a day moisturizer that has a bit of fragrance. It’s Ole Henriksen’s Strength Trainer Peptide Boost of fragrance. But, when her skin is very irritated, especially around the nose and around the mouth, this is what Cassandra has been going for.

Medature Psl Repair Moisturizer - $48

This moisturizer contains ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids that replenish the skin’s damaged barrier. This is fragrance and alcohol-free so it goes on much more lightweight. It doesn’t feel as chunky or thick as petrolatum jelly. The entire Medature brand was made for post-clinical care. For example, if you just got microneedling or laser treatment, your skin is temporarily damaged so it can repair better and brighter. But, it still needs support. That’s why this product was created, but it is also amazing for general care. 

This product does so much for the skin barrier without feeling overly heavy or greasy on the skin. Your hair definitely won’t stick to your skin after using it, and it goes great alongside other products. This will keep your skin happy and healthy on days of irritation. Overall, this is a gentle, emulsifying blend that Cassandra hasn’t seen anything come close to. 

Dr. Sam’s Flawless Body Mineral UV - $39

You’ll also want to focus on sunscreen because it protects the skin from incoming damage. This is a wonderful alcohol and fragrance-free option for the body as well. For your face, you can use this over the PSL moisturizer, and together, they will be a power combo.

What can I eat to repair my skin barrier?

We have to speak about nutrition because what goes into our body is used to support our skin. If you want to build a healthy skin barrier from the inside out, you'll want to focus on things such as protein, hydration, and vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in helping your body to produce collagen. If you don’t have vitamin C, your body can’t produce it. There are many different forms of vitamin C, and one is a supplement. Cassandra loves this one from Beauty Pie, Beauty Pie Efficient C. At the same time though, you should also eat your fruits and vegetables. You can add some bell peppers to your dishes because they actually have more vitamin C than oranges.

You can also get vitamin C from strawberries or raspberries in a smoothie. Bananas also have a ton of potassium and around 10% of your body’s daily needs for manganese. These components are essential to having a healthy skin barrier. 

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder -$35.69

Your skin barrier also needs collagen, but your body needs protein to produce it. 

This is organic protein, and it’s unflavored with no Stevia. Don’t use too much, or the taste can be overbearing. 1 scoop has 22 grams of protein, and it has an entire amino acid profile which means it gives your body all of the essential amino acids it needs to reassemble them into the polypeptide chains that create proteins. 

Organic Aloe Gorgeous Vegan Collagen-Booster - $36.99

This taste so good, and it’s a bit sweeter than the protein powder. You can blend this in with vegan milk or water, and it helps with overall hydration.

A balanced nutrition plan is going to be unique to you, and the best way to find out is to get a blood test and speak with a doctor or dietitian who can build a custom plan for you. So, while Cassandra knows what her body and physiology need, it’s not going to be the same for everyone. Treating our body with respect through nutrition is important even though this aspect is not at the forefront of most beauty conversations.

Get sleep and relax

Getting good sleep and practicing meditation or relaxation can also be beneficial to your skin barrier. Stress can not only impact your body, but your entire life.  Being aware of this and being kind to yourself can make such a difference. Moreover, you should exercise not as a punishment for what you ate but for your well-being. Your body needs nourishment and enjoyment to thrive. This is a challenge for Cassandra too, but these are little habits that turn into big strides.

Photocred: Everygirl