Defending Your Skin’s Defense System: A Healthy Barrier Function
Skin is the organ that defines our surface. It nurtures and protects us. It has the most remarkable ability to repair itself subsequent to trauma or injury. Like the genius that is, it warns us when we come into contact with foreign material that should not be present. The skin requests very little from us, other than understanding, respect and care. We can be better defenders of our body’s largest organ, if we simply understand some basics of skin’s design, structure and function. The most important function your skin has is forming a barrier between your body and the outside world. Your skin is your shield of armor. It protects you from external assault, such as bacteria, environmental toxins, UV radiation and most foreign invaders. Proper barrier function is by far the most important aspect to skin homeostasis and health, and barrier integrity should be every estheticians focus and credo. Skin is our livelihood. Learn it. Live it. Understand it.
Your skin is made up of many different layers, with the top layer (your Stratum Corneum), being the all-protective barrier. Continue to damage your Stratum Corneum and therefore your skin's barrier, and you get into a vicious cycle of inflammation, and complete loss of skin function. Rapid increase in water loss, exponentially decreases your skin’s operating system from functioning normally. Your skin becomes much more susceptible to further damage when we break it’s barrier down. Now herein lies the paradox: while the Stratum Corneum is made up of a layer of dead skin cells, it is furthest from being metabolically inactive. In fact, it’s ability to communicate and send messages to your lower layers of skin, make it the most viable “living” organism your body has to protect and defend us.
The barrier is made up of a composition of free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. It is important to understand that it is these fats or lipids in our Stratum Corneum that are the active constituents in the permeability barrier. When it come to proper skin health and barrier function, fat is absolutely your friend. Lipids that are physiologically mimetic to the skin's barrier, should be the most prevalent seen in your moisturizers and barrier repair creams. Shea Butter, Jojoba, Squalane, Saturated Phosphatidylcholine, and Fatty Acids, all play a pivotal role in restoring barrier homeostasis and are seen in our Quench, Quench+, and Immerse moisturizers. Other actives like native Phosphatidylcholine, which is rich in Linoleic Acid, the most abundant fatty acid seen in our cell membrane, can help restore barrier integrity. It is also used as our novel delivery system (seen in all Vitamin A serums, Replenish, and StemFactor), allowing our actives to fuse with the lipid rich cell membrane and shuttled into the heart of the cell. Our liposomal Niacinamide (seen in the above mentioned products), also increases the skin’s ceramide production, further restoring our shield of armor. Your skin can absolutely use some help in order to carry out its protective work, luckily there are fantastic substances which can do this. The right products, with the correct composition of barrier repairing substances, are the best line of defense we have to keep the skin healthy. All skin. No matter what type, or condition it is in. Keep the integrity of the barrier intact, and you are on your way to a lifetime of beautiful and radiant skin.