How to Repair Your Skin Barrier

A damaged barrier sets up so many problems for your skin. If your skin feels sensitive, tight or irritated and has a dry surface layer, often with congestion, it means your barrier is compromised. And if you’ve been struggling with issues like acne, sun damage or dull skin that’s lost its bounce, and it’s not getting better no matter what you do, restoring your barrier is the first, essential step towards getting your skin healthy again.The good news is, you can repair your barrier in usually just a couple of weeks with a very simple regimen.

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Do you need to repair your skin barrier? Here’s how:


Cleansing is 50% of a successful skincare regimen because of the effect your cleanser has on your barrier. A foaming cleanser or one that’s too harsh can leave your skin feeling dry, irritated and even flaky. That’s why it’s vital to choose a gentle, non-foaming cleanser as they’re good for all skin types all year round. Look for one with barrier-supporting ingredients like rose flower oil, red algae, aloe vera, carrot juice, chamomile or cucumber extract.

Starting with clean hands, work a quarter-sized amount of your cleanser into your face for 30–60 seconds. Massage it in with circular movements, going in all directions to get it deep into the pores and under any fine facial hair. Rinse it off with a warm, wet washcloth that has a little bit of texture to it, for a gently exfoliating effect.

Double cleanse in the evenings. Your first cleanse removes your make-up, sun block and daily grime. Your second cleanse sweeps away dead cells and excess sebum, ensuring you have a truly clean slate that is soft, supple and balanced, ready to absorb the rest of the products in your regimen.


For the two weeks that your skin barrier is repairing, stop using serums and moisturizers with active ingredients like AHAs or retinoids. Instead, you can help heal the skin and calm redness and irritation with a serum that feeds your skin nutrients such as bioflavonoids, arnica, grape seed extract or vitamins P, K and C.

Moisturizer is essential to lock in hydration and keep your skin looking soft, dewy and pretty. If you’re an oily or combination-oily skin type or you suffer a lot with acne, you may be focused on drying up that oil and worried about adding more. However, because oil comes from within, you can’t dry it up topically. A light, hydrating formulation will balance your skin and let the oil get out instead of becoming trapped and causing new breakouts. If you have dry or combination-dry skin, you need a thicker, more occlusive product that will coat your skin with moisture.


Sun block is the final step of your healthy-barrier regimen, and it’s so important to find one that you feel good about wearing every single day. Sun damage doesn’t just age and mark your skin and damage the elastin and collagen inside its deeper layers, it can also make the skin thin and dry and that will upset your barrier.

Avoid ones that clog your pores or burn your skin, and don’t rely on just a tinted moisturizer with SPF, as you have to use such a large amount of it to get adequate sun protection. A dedicated sun block of at least SPF 40 is essential for keeping your skin protected. And a good physical block that contains zinc is a great choice because it’s so healing on the skin.

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