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How To Repair and Protect Your Skin's Lipid Barrier

By Ané Auret February 11, 2019

A strong, well-functioning lipid barrier is the foundation of healthy, glowing skin. 

Also known as the Skin Barrier or Moisture Barrier, the Lipid Barrier is found in the Stratum Corneum. The Stratum Corneum is the outermost layer of the epidermis and consists of corneocytes (layers of dead skin cells) and lipids (the skin’s natural fats).

Dr. Peter M. Elias, an Epidermal Biology Expert likened the Stratum Corneum to a brick wall where the skin cells acts as bricks and the lipids act as the cement (mortar) keeping these bricks together.  This structure essentially keeps the water within our bodies inside and prevent trans epidermal waterloss,  while shielding us against external / environmental stressors, bacteria and allergens. 

For me this is a great metaphor and a good way to visualise your own skin barrier. 

What are Lipids? 

Lipids are the skin’s natural fats. There are 2 kinds of lipids:  epidermal and sebaceous. 

Epidermal lipids is a mix composed of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol.  Sebaceous lipids include triglycerides, wax esters, and squalene. 

Signs of a Weakened or Compromised Lipid Barrier 

If you’re experiencing issues with your skin, whether it’s increased sensitivity, irritation, redness, dryness, itching, or breakouts you can’t seem to get rid of it may be that your lipid barrier has been compromised or damaged in some way.  

How to repair, nurture and care for your lipid barrier 

Treat your skin as you would a baby’s skin.  Just because we’re all grown up and our skins are much stronger doesn’t mean it doesn’t need our TLC and to be nurtured gently.  

Keep your skin’s most important line of defence fighting fit - 7 steps to repair and protect your skin’s lipid barrier:


1. Avoid Harsh Cleansers

- Anything that strips the skin of its natural oils can weaken and damage your lipid barrier. Avoid cleansers with harsh surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and consider using more gentle options like micellar water, oil, milk or cream based cleansers.  Always check the ingredients list. 

- Make sure to not over cleanse, even if you feel you have overly oil skin or struggle with acne.  Over cleansing and stripping the skin, especially with harsh products, can exacerbate the issue. 

- Use lukewarm water when you cleanse. 


2. Never Over Exfoliate 

Although exfoliation can be incredibly beneficial for stimulating the growth of new skin cells, it is a treatment that should be used sparingly, especially if your lipid barrier is compromised in some way. 

- Try to avoid exfoliation with abrasive ingredients, ie. harsh scrubs and try a more gentle liquid exfoliating product instead.  

- If you’re using liquid exfoliators (my preferred option) it’s important to not overdo it either and to pay attention to how your skin responds.  

- Daily exfoliation can be incredibly damaging to lipids and leave skin red, flaky and dry.Keep exfoliation to once or twice a week to protect your skin’s delicate balance.    

3. Try to Avoid, or Protect Against Extreme Environmental Conditions 

Extreme temperatures, very dry, hot or cold air, and even strong winds can damage the skin’s lipid barrier. While it may not be possible to avoid extreme weather all of the time, you can try to protect your skin with barrier creams and protective clothing.

4. Choose Lipid Loving Skin Care 

As we age, especially after the age of 40 our natural production of lipids start to decline and we can support our lipid barrier with choosing lipid loving skincare products.  Choosing products with ‘skin identical’ ingredients will help to replace lipids and repair and protect the lipid barrier. Skin identical ingredients include Essential Fatty Acids (found in abundance in our Glow in a Bottle Facial Oil) and Ceramides, so look for products that include those. 

5. Learn How To Read Skincare Labels 

Recognising potentially harsh chemicals in your products will help you to make informed choices about choosing ingredients that may compromise your lipid barrier, ie. alcohol, sulphates (foaming cleansers). Learn more about how to read and decode your skincare ingredient labels here

6. Lifestyle & Diet 

Don’t underestimate the effect that stress, lack of sleep, too much alcohol, sugar and a poor diet can have on your skin’s lipid barrier and its ability to repair itself. Topical skincare can only go so far, so it’s important that you support your lipid barrier from the inside out, especially through keeping hydrated and following a skin-friendly diet

You may also want to look into supplementing your diet with ingestible Ceramides and / or Omega rich options like Evening Primrose Oil to help support your lipid barrier from the inside out. 


7. Always, always wear sunscreen 

Develop a religious sun protection habit as both UVA and UVB rays pose serious threats to your lipid barrier. We can’t stress this enough: Use sunscreen every single day, even on the cloudiest of days. 

Your skin never rests and works very hard to keep out toxins, environmental damage and stressors, while at the same time keeping hold of crucial moisture (the water in our bodies) and skin-friendly nutrients, fighting free radicals and inflammation, whilst also repairing itself in the process.  

There is a lot that we can do ourselves to help our lipid barrier to be healthy so that it can do all these important jobs. 

Our Glow in a Bottle Face Oil is packed with all-natural plant oils that contains Essential Fatty Acids to strengthen and repair your lipid barrier. 


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