How To Restore Skin Barrier Function

This post is additional information from previous blog, digging in more about ‘Skin Barrier Function’, which is an extremely important in skincare as it protects skin from the environmental stressors – cause of sensitive skin.

A thin, weak and damaged skin barrier allows irritants in easily such as pollution, infection & toxic chemicals – resulting in rashes, redness, flakiness, rosacea etc. If the skin barrier is highly impermeable, our skin will retain moisture effectively, maintaining skin hydration, firmness and softness – looking more plumped and radiant.

*What it is Skin Barrier?

[ Brick Wall Model by Elias ]
The barrier function refers to the Stratum Corneum (the outermost layer of skin: Epidermis). This tissue is made up of multiple stacks of flattened cells or ‘Corneocytes’.

• The bricks are the Corneocytes (dead skin cells)
• The mortar (cement holding the bricks together) is the intercellular matrix, which is composed of Lipids.
The Stratum Corneum also blocks the penetration of ultraviolet light, causing most of the pigment (melanin production).

*What causes skin barrier to get damaged?

When our skin temperature goes up (above 40 degrees), it damages collagen – causing skin to sag and contributing to wrinkles. UV lights, pH, steroids, hormone changes and over exfoliating also affect to damage skin’s protective barrier, leading to all types of skin issues and slowing down the healing process. (Sometimes the nose can be the only area of the face to get dry and flaky as a symptom of damaged skin barrier – can be lack of moisture so try facial oil or moisturizer that works to calm and soothe for the patch on the nose. Aggressive exfoliation for this peeling would make worse)

*What ingredients help recover skin barrier function?

The Lipids(cell membrane) consist of these 3 main ingredients(molecules).

  1. Ceramides (40~50%)
    : Helps to maintain a barrier function, retain the skin’s moisture and reduce cell proliferation
  2. Cholesterols (35%)
    : Helps to replace essential fats and strengthen the skin barrier
  3. Free Fatty Acids (15~20%)
    : Helps maintain pH level(5.5) and minimize signs of aging

*How to Maintain/ Repair Skin Barrier?

1.Avoid potential irritants
: Inspect irritating ingredients from your skincare products

2. Avoid harsh cleansers, balancing pH level
: High alkaline can increase irritation, and containing SLS(Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) strip the skin’s natural oils, leaving the barrier dry, exposed and susceptible to irritation

3. Don’t exfoliate too often (when skin is sensitive)

4. Avoid environmental conditions that cause sensitivity
: such as high heat, dry air, bitter cold and strong wind

5. Restore with barrier repair ingredients (Ceramides, Niacinamide, Panthenols etc,.)
Eg1.) Niacinamide is a great ingredient to try – it boosts ceramide production, thereby improving lipid barrier function
Eg2.) Natural Oils can be helpful – Mix with Pure Jojoba Oil with Saline(not a rinse solution for eye) as 100(ml):3(g) ratio

*This is a Director Pi's special Ampoule Treatment for very sensitive skin and has shown a result that visibly improved a damaged skin barrier. Can be used with a soaked cotton pad to gently wipe the skin surface or skin pack like below picture. (Make sure well mixed before use)

6. Wear Sunscreen and Full of Antioxidant products
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher every day, and look for antioxidants-rich products(including provitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C) that protects skin from free radical damages and diminish the appearance of wrinkles
Eg. AHC (Super Energy) Red Serum, Lirikos Sleeping Reset™ Ampoule, Neogen Agecure Antiager

7. Hydrate Continuously
Reach for serums or moisturizers that contain glycerin, sorbitol and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a powerful anti-aging ingredient and has a thick texture that brings out cooling effects – cools and maintains your skin temperature. (I found that most of Korean skincare products formulated with this, so not to hard to find them)

Plus, overcomplicated routines can overstimulate the skin – keep it simple for effective, nurturing skincare. A diet rich in essential fatty acids or an omega-3 supplement can also help nourish and soothe the skin.

*Director Pi’s Recommendations

These listed items are also good for preventing/repairing skin barrier in addition to previous blog’s recommendations.

  1. Acnes Derma Relief Recovery Cream – High-potency of Panthenol (Vitamin B5)
    – Great for soothing and strengthening barrier, Ideal for Acne-prone, Oily & Dehydrated-oily skin
  2. Real Barrier Cicarelief Cream
    – Ideal for Combination, Oily and Dehydrated-oily skin
  3. Mamonde Moisture Ceramide Intense Cream – Rich in Ceramides
    – Great for deep moisturizing and recovering barrier function, contains fragrance
  4. Camellia Oil & Tamanu Oil
    (Not recommended for those that have allergic reaction to essential oils)
    (1) The Lotus Jeju Lotus Leaf and Camellia Mist
    : Suitable for all skin types, Anti-inflammatory benefit
    (2) Sioris You Look So Young Night Cream
    : Low pH(5) and contains Tamanu Oil, Ideal for Oily Skin type


Once our skin barrier, the thin(0.1mm) shield, is damaged you can feel a tightening and dehydration of the skin, and it easily reacts to products that it didn’t in the past, such as vitamin C or AHAs (exfoliating acids) – also exposed to infection, leading to dull, uneven complexion.

Having a thick, healthy skin may not be harder than you think, starting from getting rid of bad habits to study more about your daily routines, it may lead to good skin eventually – may take 2 weeks to a month.
When skin returns to total normality, can slowly add back in your favorite products such as functional (whitening/anti-wrinkle).

I feel like this post is kind of long, theoretical(^^;;), hope there is some key information that is useful for your daily skincare routine for a healthy, youthful-looking skin.

Thanks for reading~

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