Skin Barrier 101

We’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it again - Your skin is a lot smarter than you think. 

Q: What is the skin’s natural barrier and why do we need it?

A: The outermost layer of your skin that has a natural, protective barrier that when healthy keeps it safe from trans-epidermal water loss and potential irritants and allergens from getting into your skin, which can cause a variety of dermatological issues, like acne, dryness, chronic inflammation and overall sensitivity.


Q: What is a healthy skin barrier composed of?

A: Mainly lipids. And the 3 crucial components are; ceramides, cholesterol, and free (or essential) fatty acids.


Q: What can damage my skin barrier?

A: Harsh or very-alkaline cleansers, strong acne-medication, over-washing, over-exfoliation, over-applying products, and over-using the amount of products in one routine (moderation is key!) Also, stress and hormonal changes weaken the skin barrier function.

Q: How do I know my skin barrier has been compromised? Or is it just acne?

A: Don't you find it weird when you're busy blotting away the shininess throughout the day, but also feel like your skin is really tight? Oily-dehydrated skin is the most common indicator that your skin barrier is damaged. People who secrete a lot of oil are more likely to demonstrate aggressive skincare habits that strip away the natural oil and all (even good) bacteria off their face, which further damages your barrier function.

Once your skin barrier is damaged, your skin loses water quickly and you often experience a dehydrated sensation. This is called 'transepidermal water loss' (TEWL). 

You can also tell your skin barrier is out of whack when your skincare products that you have may have been using for a long time irritate, sensitize or even cause redness.

Q: Does alcohol in skincare affect your skin barrier?

A: We couldn’t find any evidence of alcohol altering the skin barrier function; however since alcohol (ethanol, SD alcohol, alcohol denat) can sweep away oil that’s present on the surface of your skin, your skin can temporarily experience dryness.


Q: Are there any specific products, ingredients, nutrients we can use to repair the skin barrier?

A: Implementing a facial oil can help restore the barrier function tremendously! Also, look for products that use ceramides, cholesterol (or phytosterol for a vegan option), and free fatty acids in the right ratio. *Note that these are lipids, meaning that they can be quite greasy for oilier skin types.

Also, replenishing the skin with natural moisturizing factors can help, as well. Panthenol (Vitamin B5) and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) also help improve the barrier function.

And by the way~ We are in the works of creating a product that directly targets this skin concern. Keep an eye out for it later this year! :) 

Q: How do you repair or maintain your skin barrier? How long will it take?

A: Seriously, LESS IS MORE. If your skin barrier is compromised, it also means that your skin's permeability has increased. In other words, irritants that your barrier would otherwise block out are coming in to the skin MUCH EASIER, which can eventually cause or worsen inflammation.

So eliminate any potential irritants from your skincare products or lessen the chance of irritation by using fewer products during this period. NEVER use any products that dries your skin out. STOP using active ingredients during this period as they can either stress out or worsen your skin. And limiting your cleansing to once a day and switching to a moisturizing, barrier-friendly cleanser, such as our Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser can help protect your skin from further damage.

Q: How long does it take to repair the barrier function and after you’ve let your skin barrier heal, when you can you start incorporating new products in?

A: This really depends on the severity of the damage and the individual's skin condition. Just like there are people whose wounds heal faster, skin is the same. For healthy skin, it can take 2 weeks and up to a month to repair the barrier function. Once your skin barrier is back on full force, you’ll notice a decrease in redness, skin-sensitivity, inflammation, and dehydration! You will definitely be able to tell when your skin can handle a new product.

We know when your skin is freaking out, you just want to slather on anything and everything in hopes it will bring it back to normal. However, doing just that is probably making it worse. The best thing to do is letting it CHILL OUT and nourish it with gentle basics. #PressReset, babes.

Q: Does product work better if your skin barrier is healthy?

A: Once your skin is healthy, you’d be able to tolerate numerous products without an irritation. Your skin barrier functions to keep irritants out and let the nutrients in to your skin. But it depends on the individual when it comes to seeing a difference with the same product.

9 comments

Can I use this as a buffer before tretinoid?

Ok February 27, 2020

Very helpful. ?

Eula27 March 10, 2018

Thank you, this helped a lot!

Andiarini February 28, 2018

Thank you for the information!

Nagima February 28, 2018

Thank you, this helped a lot …. if only I could actualy get those products ??‍♀️ I hope you start shipping to Eu, even better would be if you worked with Beauty Bay, I always shop there

Eva February 09, 2018

Thank you for the helpful information. I’m so excited to try new products from kravebeauty!!!

Star phan January 25, 2018

Thanks for helpfull information . For beautiful skin .waiting for new products. And want to order……..

Prasee January 24, 2018

Thanks for helpfull information . For beautiful skin .waiting for new products. And want to order????

Prasee January 24, 2018

Excuse me but when will you ship To France…please ?

Safia DJAMA January 24, 2018

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