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Skin Barrier Function & Repair: It’s Essential for Healthy Skin

When your skin barrier is weak, your skin is more vulnerable. In this article, we’re breaking down why the skin barrier is so important.

Read on

It feels like most of us are at odds with some form of skin ailment. Be it melasma, adult acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation. We’re constantly on the hunt for solutions but, there is an essential component of skin health that is often overlooked.

The health of our skin barrier function.

Our skin barrier is without a doubt one of the most important factors when it comes to our skin health.

A compromised skin barrier could be the cause of your acne, rosacea or, dry and sensitive skin. Many common skincare treatments, while beneficial, may weaken our skin barrier. You might be weakening your barrier without ever knowing it.

The secret to healthy skin is knowing how to restore and strengthen essential protective skin barrier function. In this article, we’re breaking down why the skin barrier is so important and 3 easy ways you can restore it.

What is the skin barrier?

The skin barrier is the lipid matrix in the outermost layer of the skin, also called the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is often described as a buffer wall made of  “cellular bricks and mortar.” This protective barrier relies on the tight junctions of cellular “bricks and mortar” to keep toxins and bacteria out and water in.

A strong protective barrier is like an undisturbed Jenga tower, with all the bricks lining up perfectly. This thin but mighty barrier is held together by the glue of cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides -- this is called the extracellular lipid matrix.

Why is the skin barrier so important?

You can think of the skin barrier as your skin’s security system. Keeping all the good locked in, and the bad locked out. Plus, it will sound some serious alarms when security has been breached (in terms of skin redness, irritation, and inflammation).The health of the skin barrier is quite literally what keeps us alive.

This involves both the protective lipid matrix and the acid mantle. The lipids in this barrier act as selective antimicrobial agents at the skin surface. Ideally, this barrier keeps irritants, toxins, and microbes out, while retaining essential moisture.

The health of the skin barrier is what determines levels of skin sensitivity, skin inflammation, and how gracefully your skin ages. When you develop “cracks” or weakness in this protective barrier, is when you might run into some complications.

What happens if the barrier is weakened?

If your brick and mortar (i.e. your skin barrier) isn’t as solid as it should be, it can cause some issues.

When your skin barrier is weak, your skin is more vulnerable to what is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Through the compromised skin barrier, water easily evaporates resulting in dull-looking dry skin that is more susceptible to irritation and sensitivity.

Moisture is essential to the health of the skin. A healthy skin barrier blocks water loss and instead stores the moisture in the skin. With a compromised skin barrier, you are also vulnerable to external allergens, toxins, and irritants.

When these penetrate the skin, they can cause redness, inflammation, and irritation. With a chronically weakened skin barrier, you might develop chronic skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, atopic dermatitis, or psoriasis.

Causes of skin barrier damage

Everyday stressors might contribute to skin barrier damage such as sun exposure or using harsh skin products. Simply aging can even weaken the barrier. Without protecting and restrengthening this skin barrier, you might develop considerable skin barrier weaknesses. Here are a few ways the skin barrier can be damaged:

  • Excess sun exposure
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Over exfoliation
  • Over cleansing
  • pH disturbing products
  • Harsh skincare chemicals
  • Natural aging process
  • Psychological distress
  • Lifestyle habits such as smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Genetic factors that make you more vulnerable to eczema or psoriasis

Signs of a damaged skin barrier

When you have a healthy skin barrier, your skin is plump, dewy, and often clear of blemishes. If your skin barrier is compromised you might experience skin that is lackluster, dull, dry, red, or irritated. You might also experience the following:

  • Increased bacterial or fungal infections
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Sensitive and reactive skin
  • Rough dry patches
  • Flakiness or peeling

3 easy ways you can repair your skin barrier function

No matter if you experience symptoms of skin barrier weakness or not, everyone should be concerned with strengthening and maintaining their skin barrier. A well-rounded skincare routine is truly a balancing act.

If you do use exfoliating products, acne medications, or resurfacing acids -- remember to give back to your skin afterward. Reach for products that build up that “brick and mortar” we talked about so you can keep your skin happy and healthy. Here are 3 essential ways to repair and restore your skin barrier.

#1 Add humectants and emollients to your everyday skincare routine

Humectants and emollients are the dream team for all skin types. Humectants retain moisture on a molecular level, while emollients coat the skin and trap hydration. Hyaluronic acid is an amazing everyday humectant hero. It can hold up to 1,000 times its molecular weight in water! Skin barrier building emollients are fatty acid-containing oils. Try out things like rosehip oil, jojoba oil, or argan oil. Plant oils have been shown to reduce inflammation and repair the skin barrier. This everyday combo can help retain and restore skin barrier health.

#2 Reach for antioxidants such as vitamin C

When the infamous antioxidant vitamin C is used topically it can help enhance lipid production within the skin barrier by increasing ceramides. Thus strengthening the barrier and improving protective function. Additionally, vitamin C acts as a protectant against environmental stressors. Our Strut Brightly Formula includes both the humectant hyaluronic acid and antioxidant vitamin C. Used every day, it can help restore skin barrier balance.

#3 Add additional ceramides

Ceramides are a class of fatty acids called lipids and act as the glue that keeps the cells of the “brick and mortar” together. The health of the skin barrier’s lipid matrix relies on the production of ceramides. While vitamin C does increase ceramides, it’s also helpful to layer products that can offer additional ceramides. Reach for moisturizers and serums that contain ceramides.


  • The skin barrier is a protective layer of the skin that is comprised of lipids.
  • This barrier locks in moisture and keeps out irritants. Without this staying strong, the health of the skin can be compromised.
  • You can damage this barrier by over-exfoliation, harsh chemicals, and sun exposure, to name a few.
  • Compromised skin barrier function can cause dry, flaky skin and skin conditions like rosacea, or acne.

Strut Health treats skin concerns online with proven effective prescription formulas

Here at Strut Health, we know the importance of a healthy skin barrier.

All of our skin formulas were created with the health of your skin barrier in mind. Our Strut Brightly Formula is a combination of multiple powerful ingredients that work to keep your skin barrier strong and looking glowy.

If you want to try our prescription formulas, complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation to see if our treatments are right for you.

If our doctors find this is a good fit for you, we’ll ship your prescription to your doorstep with our free shipping.

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