Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is key to having glowing, youthful skin all year round
Over the past few weeks, we’ve spoken about the launch of all-new Serra Body Lotion and its remarkable ability to restore and revive a healthy skin barrier – so important for the winter months. But what is the skin barrier, really? How does it work and why is it so important to keep it healthy?
Your skin barrier is vital for homeostasis
Homeostasis describes the optimal state for “being alive”. Homeostasis is the best-possible condition your skin and body can be in, to balance on its own all the elements needed to keep you in top health. As you know, there are five vital elements for having 100% healthy skin – hydration, collagen, elastin, fibroblasts and vital enzymes – and, simply put, the skin barrier helps your skin reach homeostasis by creating the perfect environment for producing and maintaining all five these elements automatically.
Your skin barrier does this by protecting your body from harmful external elements, such as sunlight, toxins and pollutants, bacteria and viruses in the air (to name but a few). These external “damagers” would disrupt your body’s natural homeostasis (harmony) if your skin barrier wasn’t there to protect your body.
Also – and very importantly – your skin barrier locks in the moisture in your skin. It helps prevent moisture loss, which is vital for homeostasis and healthy skin.
How does the skin barrier do this?
We often refer to the skin barrier as the lipid bilayer of the skin. That’s because the “barrier” is basically a series of skin cells (the outermost layers of cells) suspended in a waxy lipid layer. This layer forms a “barrier” between your body (and the deeper layers of skin) and the outside world. To describe this, we often use the “brick wall” analogy.
If you were to look at a brick wall, you’ll notice it’s made up of bricks arranged in an order, bound together by the mortar that fills in all the gaps in between. Your skin barrier is much the same. The outer layers of your skin are made up of corneocytes – old and non-living skin cells who’ve lived their lives and now serve the protect the body one last time before they are ready to be shed.
Imagine the corneocytes as the bricks in a wall. The mortar that binds them together is what we call lipids – a waxy/oily substance that your cells make themselves. All cells are suspended in some form of liquid most of the time. But the skin cells in the outermost layers, nearing the end of their lifecycles, start producing protective lipids.
It’s this important waxy layer of lipids that gives your skin barrier its strength and allows your skin to exist in a state of homeostasis. But, your skin barrier is not infallible. There are many things that can disrupt your skin barrier and throw your skin into chaos.
How the skin barrier gets damaged
When you over-wash or over-exfoliate (usually with scrubs as opposed to specialised exfoliators and creams), expose your skin to harsh/unsuitable chemicals or burn or damage your skin, the damage actually strips away the lipid layers around the skin cells.
Now, remember, these corneocytes are already old skin cells who are practically “on their way out”. So, they’re often not able to produce enough new lipids to rebuild the skin barrier in time. What happens then is that your skin’s moisture escapes and your body is defenceless against attacks from all kinds of toxins and pollutants in the air. If these contaminants penetrate your skin, it could lead to infections and damage deeper down in the dermis, spreading the damage and breaking down your skin barrier even further.
To use the brick wall analogy again. A wall that’s made of bricks and mortar is pretty strong. If you just stack bricks on top of each other, though, with no mortar in between, it’s weak. You could probably just push the wall over by hand. It’s the same for your skin. And the effects can be devastating.
The effects of a damaged skin barrier
With nothing to protect it, your skin and your body are completely exposed to damage. And this kind of damage is way more common than you think. See how many of these effects of an impaired skin barrier you recognise in you and your own skin:
- Dry skin (anywhere on body)
- Sensitive, red skin
- Cracked heels and dry, flaky hands
- Acne-prone skin or areas of skin
- Tight skin
- Dull, sallow skin
Many people spend fortunes trying to repair all kinds of varying symptoms, from dehydration and tenderness to prematurely ageing skin and breakouts or acne, without realising that what’s really needed is something as basic and fundamental as merely repairing the skin barrier first.
Often, treating the symptoms doesn’t resolve the underlying cause. For example, if you have dry skin merely slapping on more and more moisturiser won’t replace the lost lipids in the skin barrier. It will help replenish the depleting moisture supply in your skin for a short time, but you’ll have to keep applying it because the moisture will escape through the damaged skin barrier.
So, how do you repair a weakened skin barrier?
Advanced skin barrier repair
If the root problem is that the skin’s lipid bilayer has been stripped away, the solution is to replace those lost lipids. The skin often can’t do this on its own, which is why science has looked toward a compound called ceramide. Ceramides are a type of waxy lipid that’s naturally created by your cells – it’s a vital part of the lipid layer that makes up the skin barrier.
Lamelle Research Laboratories is well known for creating a highly advanced form of this lipid compound called Ceramide-P. Ceramide-P is an exclusive Lamelle-patented lipid, produced in a laboratory to be 100% homologous/compatible with human cells. It’s not made from human tissue (because that would just be gross and unsafe), but your body recognises it as a natural part of itself. This means that, if the skin barrier is impaired, when you apply Ceramide-P to your skin, your skin “accepts” it and gratefully uses it to repair the skin barrier.
Ceramide-P, which you may already have recognised as an important part of advanced products like Dermaheal and Lamelle’s Serra range, enters the skin and physically fills in the gaps in the skin barrier. It acts as the mortar in the “brick wall” of your skin, repairing and strengthening the skin barrier. What’s more, since it replenishes the skin barrier, it gives your skin the time to heal and rebuild itself from within.
That’s why Lamelle’s Ceramide-P is used in both homecare products like the Serra range and by professionals when performing treatments.
Good to know
Lamelle has expanded on the success of the Serra facial homecare range with the all-new Serra Body Lotion. This now allows you to use the same kind of lipid recovery and skin barrier-restoring care on your body as what you would apply to your face.
Ask your doctor or skincare therapist about the advantages of the Serra range and the all-new Serra Body Lotion to start reaping the rewards of advanced skin barrier repair today.