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The Role of the Moisture Barrier in Skin Health

12 Jul 2022

The moisture barrier has been getting a lot of attention in the beauty world these days. Though you’ve probably heard the term thrown around, you may not be exactly clear on what it is—but the moisture barrier plays a key role in skin health.

“The moisture barrier is the part of our skin on the surface layer that helps to keep good things in the skin and help keep bad things out,” says Jacob Tomás del Rosario, Director of Field Sales + Education at Youth To The People. 

We have three layers of skin tissue, explains del Rosario. The epidermis is the surface layer. The dermis, the second layer, has collagen and elastin proteins. It's where we find hair follicles as well as the sebaceous and sweat glands, which excrete oil and sweat. And then in the deeper layer of tissues, you’ll find your fat and connective tissue called the hypodermis.

“The outermost layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum,” del Rosario says. “This layer consists of stacks of flat skin cells, called corneocytes, which are like bricks and are surrounded by skin surface lipids (ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids) which act like the mortar. Together, the bricks and mortar are your moisture barrier, which is often called your lipid barrier or protective barrier.”

When hydration escapes the skin, that’s called transepidermal water loss—and we want that to happen as little as possible. 

“We lose water passively in our skin all the time; it's literally losing water through vapor,” del Rosario says. “Having a healthy skin barrier will help keep the skin hydrated long-term, but it also forms a protective barrier against potentially skin-damaging external factors.” The reason why no one wants a damaged skin barrier is because that increases permeability in the skin, meaning all that bad stuff can get in. A damaged barrier also allows more moisture to escape, which can worsen the problem.

As noted, the skin barrier mortar is made up of ceramides, as well as cholesterol and fatty acids. “Many skincare products designed to support barrier function or that are targeted for sensitive skin include ceramides and other lipids found in the barrier,” del Rosario says. Formulated with ceramides, Polypeptide-121 Future Cream can help boost skin barrier function, and keep moisture in and the bad stuff out, while also helping to combat visible signs of aging.

A common way people accidentally damage their skin barrier is by over-cleansing—for example, using multiple exfoliating products—or by using a routine that’s too harsh, which can pull out the skin’s natural conditioners. 

“It’s exactly why we love the Superfood Cleanser; it's sulfate-free and pH-balanced,” del Rosario says. “Those are going to help not only nourish the skin but give that really beautiful, non-stripping lather.” Also, be sure to use water that’s just the right temperature and not too hot or too cold. “The general temperature on your skin is about 91 degrees, and so by washing too far under or over that may also contribute to stripping the skin of its natural conditioners and leaving the lipid barrier feeling a little bit thrashed." 

Be sure to apply a barrier function-boosting cream regularly to maximize the results. In addition to containing ceramides, the Polypeptide-121 Future Cream is also infused with, rice and flax, as well as other plant-based proteins.

“Then, we have the polypeptide-121, a vegan polypeptide chain biodesigned in California. It’s made up of a sequence of more than 180 amino acids found in human collagen—it's really unique and innovative in our product line,” del Rosario says. The Future Cream formula helps to smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles and helps to strengthen the skin’s protective moisture barrier. 

Written by Ceila Shatzman for Youth to The People

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