In the ongoing quest to achieve the holy grail of radiant skin, it can be tempting to splurge on the buzziest treatments that promise to smooth fine lines and zap blemishes. However, these external conditions are truly just skin-deep—simply the skin’s way of responding to underlying issues.
Beautiful looking skin is the direct result of internally healthy skin. So, if you’re experiencing negative reactions such as dull, lackluster or inflamed skin, chances are that your skin barrier has weakened and is in desperate need of nourishment.
What is the Skin Barrier?
The skin barrier, sometimes known as the moisture or lipid barrier, is the top layer of the epidermis—or more simply put, the top layer of skin. Diving deeper still, the skin barrier has layers of its own and the outermost mantle—the stratum corneum—is the skin’s first line of defense in protection against environmental and lifestyle aggressors.
Essentially, the complex yet delicate skin barrier is designed to do exactly what it sounds like: a barricade that locks in moisture and protects the bad stuff from getting in. A strong barrier looks like hydrated and glowing skin.
However, if it becomes damaged, then external stressors are able to penetrate into the deeper skin layers and cause external and internal issues. Skin will not be able to maintain proper hydration, resulting in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) where water evaporates through skin causing sensitivity, dryness or irritation. It can also contribute to more irreversible effects like accelerating the signs of aging.
For lips, a compromised skin barrier is even more bleak. The stratum corneum on lips is already significantly thinner and as a result, skin on lips has a weaker skin barrier function and lower moisture capacity to begin with. Unfortunately, this means that lips are the first to show tell-tale signs of a weakened moisture barrier as they are more susceptible to becoming dry, flaky and cracked. (As a more uplifting sidenote: it is believed that this contributes to a more transparent epidermis giving lips their beautiful rosy hue).
What Affects the Skin Barrier?
All the environmental and lifestyle stressors we come into contact with on a daily basis can negatively impact the skin barrier and ultimately wreak havoc deep within our skin. Healthy lifestyle choices will certainly help to keep the barrier strong, but some things are beyond our control.
External aggressors such as UV rays, pollution, free radicals and weather changes can all significantly weaken the skin barrier. Furthermore, lifestyle factors such as diet, lack of sleep or exercise and skincare choices like over-exfoliation or using products with harsh synthetic chemicals, fragrances and alcohols can all contribute to a compromised skin barrier.
While the summer sun is infamous for the damage it can cause to skin cells, the importance of proper sun protection has been drilled into all of us. Winter however, strikes an unexpected blow to the skin barrier during the colder months. Between the frigid air, harsh winds and blasting dry heaters, the relentless changes in temperatures all cause damage to the protective seal.
Hence why it’s very typical to notice dry, chapped lips specifically in the winter time. Moisture has escaped through the cracked barrier, leaving lips sore and dehydrated. In addition, lips have no sebaceous glands and so they are unable to provide extra moisture to protect the skin’s surface when it needs it most.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. With the right treatment and care it’s possible to restore a resilient barrier and retain sufficient hydration.
How Can We Repair the Skin Barrier?
As with all things that contribute to outer radiance—the key is to maintain health from within and take a holistic approach to skincare. Hydration is essential: drink plenty of water and opt for skincare that is composed of thirst-quenching humectants like beeswax or hyaluronic acid—a skin savior that is able to retain 1,000 times its weight in water. Our Lip Balm contains multiple molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to penetrate each layer of skin for the ultimate replenishment of moisture.
Equally important when looking for skin repairing ingredients are emollients—softening ingredients that fill the cracks in a damaged skin barrier to instantly soothe and restore. We use antioxidant-rich, cold-pressed organic oils in our Lip Balm, such as prickly pear oil, camellia japonica oil and kukui nut oil that support a healthy skin barrier.
Lastly, look for natural occlusives to lock in moisture and act in as a protective seal. Organic shea butter is a wonderful example as it also delivers essential fatty acids that help to create a strong, healthy skin barrier.
We have been meticulous in our research to develop an organic lip balm that delivers all the nutrients your lips need and more. Abaci Lip Balm works overtime to create a powerful hydration matrix that ensures the skin barrier is its healthiest and moisture is retained in the deepest skin layers.