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A Beginner's Guide to Taking Care of Your Skin Barrier

Because a healthy skin barrier means healthy skin.
A Beginner's Guide to Taking Care of Your Skin Barrier
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/piawurtzbach
Because a healthy skin barrier means healthy skin.

Instead of worrying about the size of your pores (which you can't change, by the way), shift your attention towards taking better care of your skin barrier instead. As our first line of defense against dehydration and environmental aggressors, it's key to maintaining a complexion that's free from breakouts, redness, and inflammation. In fact, protecting your skin barrier is actually not that complicated, but a ton of misinformation has caused many to develop habits that are more damaging than beneficial. To know if you're on the right track, here are tips from co-founders of skincare brand Glow Recipe, Sarah Lee and Chrstine Chang, for a healthy skin barrier:

How to Repair and Protect Your Skin Barrier

1. Avoid overcleansing and harsh soaps.

Overcleansing comes in two forms: washing your face too often (more than twice a day) and using a cleanser that's too harsh for your skin. Doing both strips you of your skin's natural oils and thus weakens your skin barrier, so try to make your cleansing routine as gentle as possible. Using gentle, low pH cleansers formulated without sulfates is a good start, because these are less likely to dry you out.

2. Avoid alcohol-based toners.

"Using alcohol toners can strip the skin and break down the lipid barrier as well," Christine says. So if you need to use a toner, opt for ones formulated without alcohol. These will help adjust your skin's pH, too, and give you extra hydration before your moisturizer.

3. Don't overuse active ingredients.

Using too much active ingredients at the same time can overwhelm your skin. Try to stick to one active ingredient at a time—say vitamin C in the morning and then retinol at night—to prevent irritation and slowly build your tolerance from there.

4. Cut back on your routine if your skin is irritated.

If you ever find your skin red, tight, or itchy, eliminate what's likely causing the irritation and then stick to a minimal routine once your skin heals. Christine and Sarah recommend using products with soothing ingredients like cica, chamomile, and turmeric to support the recovery. Skincare with ceramides help protect and strengthen the barrier, too!


5. Always wear sunscreen.

Sun exposure can damage a compromised skin barrier even further, so don't forget to wear at least an SPF of 30 if you're stepping out for an extended amount of time.

Watch the video below for more tips!

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