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A guide to skin barrier

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Healthy skin starts with a healthy skin barrier!


A skin barrier acts like a guard that distinguish between the substances that are allowed to enter the skin from those that must be kept outside. The outermost layer of the skin-epidermis has a thin layer of non-living skin cells known as Stratum Corneum. This Stratum Corneum represents the skin barrier. It is 'Stratum Corneum' with which all the products interact.



A skin barrier prompts an anti-inflammatory in response to products. It helps in maintaining the moisture balance of the skin and the integrity of skin function. Structurally, it follows brick and mortar analogy, where bricks represent the non-living cells while the mortar represents intercellular lipids (includes ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids). Any disturbance in this arrangement, either disruption of cells or of lipids, leads to a barrier defect (just like a wall cannot stand if either of the brick or the mortar is missing). Skin barrier may get damaged for various reasons such as the use of harsh products, excessive exfoliation, neglected skin, exposure to an extreme environment (too hot or too cold water), excessive washing, etc.




A decreased barrier function results in Trans-Epidermal Water Loss. Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) is an outward diffusion of water or in simple words, loss of water through the skin. Now that the skin is left defenceless, it is open to all toxins and pollutants to enter and go deep in the skin. A damaged barrier allows irritants, microbes and allergens to enter the skin and increases skin permeability allowing what is inside, to go out and what is out, to go in. It may result in excessive dryness, dehydration, flakiness, skin sensitivity, inflammation etc. In order to avoid such condition, it is better to treat skin very gently, use mild products with low pH, avoid products, DIY remedies that you are not sure about, and when in doubt consult your dermatologist. A cleanser which is a daily skin care ritual, cannot correctly differentiate between sebum and intercellular lipids, therefore use of any harsh product or overdoing anything with skin, may cause some serious damage to the barrier.


The ultimate aim of skin care is to sustain good skin health. Therefore, it is very important to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier by careful selection of products. It is essential to keep skin well hydrated, wear sunscreen to protect it from UV radiation and treat it gently.

Healthy skin starts with a healthy skin barrier!


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