Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s+, skincare is an important facet of any wellness routine. You may see serums and moisturizers that claim to protect your skin’s moisture barrier, but what exactly does that mean? Here’s your complete guide to your skin’s moisture barrier and what you can do to protect it.
What Is the Moisture Barrier?
The skin’s moisture barrier helps the skin retain moisture, specifically water. This is good news if you don’t want to look like a shriveled up prune. The moisture barrier is made up of your skin’s outer layer, which is called the epidermis. Even this layer of skin is made up of more layers...what we’re saying is you’re basically an onion. Anyways, the hard, outermost layer of your epidermis is called the stratum corneum.
The stratum corneum is a layer of dead skin cells that are actively shedding. Um, ew? But yes, that’s the reality! Just like other parts of your body, cells die and new ones are generated. Since your skin is on the outside of your body, the skin you see is actually mostly dead skin cells. Exfoliating your skin sloughs the dead skin cells off your face.
The stratum corneum also contains your oil glands, where your natural skin oils (sebum) are secreted from. If you lean towards an oily skin type, you may detest the oil glands on your face. But sebum helps keep your skin flexible and prevents moisture loss from your skin.¹ It forms a protective (slightly greasy) film to keep moisture in!
This barrier, made from the outer layer of your epidermis, works to keep the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out! Moisture (water) is sealed in, thanks to your oil glands, which keeps your skin looking hydrated and refreshed. At the same time, it prevents irritants like air pollution and bacteria from getting in.
Since the moisture barrier is important for your skin’s hydration, you definitely want to protect it to the best of your ability. Environmental factors like sun and wind exposure can damage your moisture barrier, leading to dull-looking skin. Your complexion can also take a hit when you’re dehydrated or, gasp, not moisturizing enough! So, how do you protect your moisture barrier? Stay hydrated, from the inside out. Ensure you aren’t dehydrated by drinking enough water and choosing the right skincare.
Products that Protect
If you’re looking to keep your skin hydrated, look no further than humectants. These are substances that bind to water and retain it. When it comes to skincare, humectants can pull moisture from the air and retain it, increasing the moisture content of your skin.
Hyaluronic acid is one skincare ingredient that’s a proven humectant. You’ll often find this ingredient in skin serums, hydrating face masks, and even pills.
Honey, is another humectant that’s often used in cosmetic formulations to soothe and moisturize skin. This is a great DIY ingredient that you can use in scrubs and masks to help hydrate skin.
Glycerin is another natural humectant that is widely used in personal care products. It’s known to help hydrate and may protect your skin barrier by increasing water content in your skin.
Your skin is a complex organ that has a built-in system to protect itself. But environmental factors and dehydration may leave your skin looking and feeling a little thirsty. Treat your skin’s moisture barrier to a little self-care with hydrating humectants and moisturizing skincare. Remember that beauty also starts within, so be sure to stay hydrated by checking out our 5 ways to healthy hydration.
Your skin is your largest organ and the biggest protective barrier to the outside world. What will you do this week to care for it?
¹Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/sebaceous-gland