Restore your skin barrier function

Approx 5 minute read |

Before we explain how to restore the skin barrier function, it’s important to understand what the ‘skin barrier’ actually is; 

“The outermost layer of your skin, known as your skin barrier, defends your body against a constant onslaught of environmental threats while simultaneously protecting your body's critical water balance. Symptoms such as dryness, itching, and inflammation can alert you to a disturbance in this important barrier.” — 

When a skincare regime includes face rubbing in the shower with super hot water and using the same soap used for the body, then the skin will most likely be acting up.

Washing the skin with harsh detergents and rubbing it under hot water is damaging to the function of the skin’s barrier, so one mustn’t be surprised if the skin has become irritated, lacklustre, and sensitive. Luckily the skin’s barrier function can be restored:

The skin defence

The skin barrier is absolutely vital to human life, as it quite literally keeps us alive. Its job is to protect our body from all kinds of microorganisms, toxins and pathogens.  The skin barrier is also responsible for retaining water in the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) by preventing transepidermal water loss (evaporation of water through the epidermis).

Without a skin barrier, the water in our body would evaporate immediately, leaving us completely dehydrated which is why it’s highly important to take care of it . A healthy skin barrier gives the appearance of a smooth and even-toned complexion, whilst a damaged skin barrier presents redness, irritation, sensitivity, breakouts and dryness. 

What damages the skin barrier?

The skin barrier is made up of cells, lipids and acids. There are many external factors that can reduce the skin barrier function such as the environment (too dry or too humid), air pollution and climate changes, smoking, allergens and irritants, and even too much exposure to the sun. Certain skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema can also bring damage to the skin barrier. 

Keeping the skin barrier intact isn’t just about external factors though, as internal factors are also very important. Hence why eating plenty of nutrient-dense ‘clean’ food (fresh fruits and veggies), limiting sugars and alcohol are paramount, as well as drinking at least 2L water a day. It might be cliche, but you are literally what you eat, so the fuel you’re supplying for cell renewal matters. Being mindful about what you put in your body will quite literally show on your face. 

How stress affects your skin

Another big factor that can weaken the function of the skin barrier is stress. If you’ve ever flushed with embarrassment before, you probably know how emotions can have an effect on the appearance of your skin. Other emotions such as anger and sadness can also influence the skin in different ways. This is because, when we feel stressed or anxious, the body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol which can have negative effects on the skin, as highlighted in our recent article How Cortisol Affects Your Skin by WOW facial practitioner Rachel Staggs. 

How to keep the skin barrier healthy 

When experiencing sensitivity, redness or dryness in the skin, steps can be taken to restore the skin barrier function. A few changes to lifestyle, as well as a skincare regimen can have a hugely positive effect on the health of the skin barrier. 

At home, the first thing to consider is whether diet could be improved. Simply incorporating more fruit and veg, as they are loaded with skin-loving vitamins, will definitely improve the overall skin complexion. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are both also beneficial. 

When it comes to home skincare, the #1 product is a good quality SPF (we can’t stress this enough!). Synergy 6NX-Gen SPF 50 includes both a physical UV filter and a chemical UV filter, for double protection from ultraviolet rays. This wonder product also provides a specialised infrared block not only prevents damage from the sun, but also device screens such as phones, tablets, laptops and even TV screens.
Swapping over-the-counter skincare products with real, active skincare is also key in transforming skin. There are plenty of active ingredients that are super beneficial for the skin, we recommend consulting a professional to advise you which actives are optimal for your specific skin type. 

Glycolic acid cleansers work wonders too: they exfoliate chemically and therefore they are less harsh than scrubs that use physical exfoliators - as these can actually further compromise the skin barrier function. The WOW facial Glycolic Cleanser was specially formulated with a creamy consistency with extra hydrating properties that will leave the skin revitalised and rejuvenated, whilst also exfoliating the skin gently

The ultimate skin barrier restoration 

Taking skincare to the next level via finding a professional skincare specialist that understands the anatomy and physiology of the skin, will be able to access why the skin is reacting badly.

The WOW facial® is ideal for improving the skin barrier function; the six-stage advanced facial is performed by expertly trained professionals who offer a thorough consultation to understand your skin problems and then personalise a treatment regimen from start to finish, expertly curated to restore skin back to health. Essentially, WOW facial® teases the skin back to health without overstimulating or creating compromises in the skin barrier function which can lead to transepidermal water loss. 

Our WOW at HOME Kit is the perfect accompaniment to in-clinic treatments. It’s a DIY at-home extension of the full WOW facial and it can be totally relied upon to keep your skin looking WOW between appointments with your skincare professional.

You can find your nearest WOW facial® professional by clicking Find a provider from our main menu and following the steps.

Are you a skin professional interested in becoming a WOW facial practitioner? To find out more about becoming a certified WOW practitioner, please contact our team at We offer regular training courses both in-person and online, as well as ongoing support to all our practitioners.


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