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What is Your Skin’s Moisture Barrier?

by kelly / September, 25 2019 01:30

Photo of woman's hands rubbing moisturizer on her legs

You’ve probably heard this marketing statement at some point in your life “restore your skin’s moisture barrier”. If you’re like me (before I started Block Island Organics Laughing) you’ve just kind of shrugged your shoulders and said that sounds good. But does it really mean anything? Yes it actually does – your skin’s moisture barrier is important and vital to your skin’s health.

Skin Moisture Barrier

So what exactly is your skin’s moisture barrier, it’s a real thing and not a made up marketing term.

Your skin’s moisture barrier is the outermost layer of your skin. Specifically it’s part of the hard, outermost layer of the stratum corneum which is also the outermost layer of the epidermis. The epidermis consists of five layers of which the stratum corneum is one.

Whew, that’s a lot of layers and there’s even more layers to your skin beyond the epidermis – check out our post: “Your Skin: It’s Many Layers” to learn all about them.

The Importance of this Barrier

According to Los Angeles based dermatologist Dr. Anna Guanche:

"The stratum corneum is a layer of actively shedding dead skin cells…It's fortified with a latticework of remaining cell-to-cell connections and the contents of your oil glands that contain lipids."

As you can see a lot of important stuff is happening at this level. Basically, the role of this outermost layer of skin is to keep the good stuff in and bad stuff out.

Your skin’s moisture barrier is trying to, as Dr. Guanche explains, seal in “essential water and electrolytes” and repel “irritants in the air”. So it’s doing exactly what its name sounds like, helping your skin retain moisture. All with the goal to keep your skin looking smooth and dewy.

Assess Your Moisture Barrier

Now you know how important this barrier is – how do you know if it’s healthy and if you need to “restore” it?

You can self-assess your moisture barrier by looking at your skin. As NYC Dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Mark explains that your “skin might look and feel rough, dull, flaky, inflamed, red, and itchy" if there is a problem with your barrier. He does point out that there can be other causes for those issues as well.

As for what can affect the moisture barrier, lifestyle factors are one major cause. For example not drinking enough water or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol can have a negative affect. Environmental factors like too much sun can also damage your barrier. Finally not moisturizing enough can be detrimental too.

Restore Your Moisture Barrier

So to protect your skin’s moisture barrier Dr. Mark recommends staying hydrated on the inside and out. What this means is drinking lots of water and protecting your skin with the right skin care products.

To stave off sun damage to your barrier – wear sunscreen and always moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Your Skin

Hopefully now when you read or hear “restore the moisture barrier” you’ll know exactly what the product is trying to do. I believe knowing a little bit more about our skin can help us keep it healthier longer.

For more on your skin and how to take great care of it check out our Education and Skin Care blog series.

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