What is the skin barrier and how you should take care of it in a COVID-19 context?
If you are concerned about skin dryness or irritation due to masks, you might be interested in learning about how the skin barrier works, how it's affected by environmental factors and the tips you need to implement to keep it hydrated and protected.
What is the skin barrier?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum. It is composed of skin cells (corneocytes), lipids and natural moisturizing factors like fatty and amino acids. The skin barrier acts as a vital protective barrier from external threats such as allergens, chemicals and exposome factors (such as external aggressors like UV exposure, pollution but also internal ones like stress). An intact skin barrier enables the maintenance of skin function and improves its appearance. Thus, adequate skin hydration is essential to preserve elasticity and resistance properties.
What happens when the skin barrier is damaged?
Although it is protective, the skin barrier is also very delicate, and wearing a face mask can alter its integrity and function. For example, a face mask can cause repeated friction which will damage its barrier function. Additionally, a hot and humid environment due to the occlusion can cause bacteria proliferation and sebum overproduction, resulting in microbiome disbalance and destabilize the skin barrier’s natural environment. When the skin barrier is weakened, its protective function is decreased. As a consequence, the skin is less able to retain hydration, and gets more permeable to external aggressors like allergens, pollution particles, microbes. “An altered skin barrier can induce dehydrated skin and sometimes inflammation. Dehydrated skin means that your skin is lacking water. It can be dry and itchy and perhaps dull looking. It is treatable with a correct skincare routine. When the skin barrier is altered, it can also induce inflammation resulting in redness, burning, stinging sensations, and inflammatory lesions”, says Marion Nielsen Pharm, Global Scientific Director at Vichy Laboratoires. If you have experienced irritation, burning, tingling, redness, dullness or dehydration, your skin is likely lacking hydration, and your skin barrier may be compromised.
What is the best hydration skincare routine?
Skin hydration is essential for the protection of the skin barrier and the overall health of your skin. It is important to incorporate hydrating products into your routine which contain active ingredients to treat and fortify the skin, like Vichy Volcanic Water to repair the skin barrier and natural hyaluronic acid to boost skin hydration. Mineral 89 (Laboratoires Vichy, France) contains 89% Vichy volcanic mineralizing water and hyaluronic acid to strengthen and fortify the skin barrier. Mineral 89 Daily Fortifying & Plumping Daily Booster has been tested in a large number of clinical studies and has shown to significantly reduce skin burning, itching and stinging sensation and well as decrease skin dryness, irritation and redness. According to dermatologist-scored clinical trial, it fortifies the skin barrier by 23%, adding 24% hydration and plumping by up to 21%. It is hypoallergenic and has been tested on 100% sensitive skin under dermatological control.
After this first skincare step, if your skin is more demanding, you can complete your skincare routine with Vichy Aqualia Light Cream, to hydrate and protect the skin. It is also advised that you regularly change your mask to prevent bacteria building up and avoid touching your face as much as possible to keep your skin barrier hydrated and protected.