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The Skin Barrier

Understanding the skins barrier and the principle of Corneotherapy methodology.

Over the past decade the treatment of skin has been predominately focused on skin renewal and the use of acidic ingredients on the skin to influence cell turnover and provide antiaging stimulation, unfortunately this process has now surfaced many skin issues which are a result of an impaired skin barrier.

Layers of the Skin

I have seen an increase in clients visiting me with skin issues which present with dryness, inflammation, acne breakouts, redness and sensitivity and one of the first things to establish is what skincare you have been using at home. Not surprisingly, it usually consists of a cocktail blend of strong active ingredients which have over stripped the skins barrier of protective lipids.

Now I am not saying that we need to stop using said products, they do a brilliant job when used correctly in small doses and alongside other supportive ingredients. The saying 'stronger is better' or 'more will do more' is most definitely the wrong approach to take when treating your skin.

" For skin to look young, it's not all about collagen and elastin, an impaired skin barrier can make you look old"

The skin is an organ, the largest organ of the human body in fact and one which we could not survive without so why do we feel the need to regularly burn, damage and stick holes in the organ which provides our first line of defence? As the skin ages it's processes slow down, to be precise, collagen and elastin production slows down by 1% from the age of 25 this is because of a decrease in blood vessels in the dermal matrix and as this is the only supply to the epidermis so it relies heavily on it for that. In short, yes it does need to be re stimulated to keep up production but this can be achieved gently with the same desired results. It is also important to remember that if you are dedicated to preserving skin health you also need to consider changing your lifestyle choices, after all we are treating an organ attached to a person so diet, alcohol, smoking, stress and illness are all considerable factors.

"At 50years old you have 25% less food supply being fed to the dermis. The body adapts to these shortages by slowing down other areas to compensate. The turnover rate will slow down the same percentage, resulting in less collagen and elastin being produced"

"The washout effect" is a common term used when discussing a skin barrier impairment. It means that we have used too many harsh stripping products (Emulsifiers) which have literally washed away our skin lipids. When we remove those protective lipids we are opening up our skin to bacteria, UV damage and pollution but, we are not just letting things in, we are also allowing Trans Epidermal Water Loss further disrupting our skin bilayers and causing structural inflammation.

Once we have established that the skin barrier is impaired we must begin to heal it, the first step is to "seal before we heal", this is where the methodology of Corneotherapy comes in. A remedial skin treatment with its core principle being the repair and maintenance of the skin barrier defence systems, focusing on the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis.

By using products which mimic skin structure and function it treats and repairs the skins barrier defence system. The active ingredients used may be the same as what are used in other skincare however, it is the delivery system which makes all the difference. These ingredients are encapsulated in liposomes which mimic skins structure, so when applied topically, they are accepted and used by the skin to support, repair and replenish the barrier defence system, protecting against harmful substances and microorganisms.

" If you had a leak in your house from a hole in the roof would you fix the inside or outside first?"

When healing the skin it is important to have realistic expectations, we are preventing and healing but are not curing, these skin conditions can return if the skin barrier support is not continued. I always ask for you to give me 2-3months with your skin, using only the products which I recommend. You may not personally like the products, as they don't smell or have thick buttery textures but it may be perfect for your skin and the skin health is what we are treating, not your senses.

"Skin First, Product Second"

Dermaviduals is my chosen brand to use to treat Skin Barrier Function conditions. Their products use active ingredients encapsulated in Phosphatidylcholine to provide a delivery system which the skin recognises and accepts. Phosphatidylcholine is present in our skins structure, specifically our cells membranes, it enables cell to cell communication. These very unique formulas transport active ingredients into the skin through a recognised dermal membrane structure and are made up of skin supportive food such as Triglycerides, Squalene, Ceramides, Phytosterols and fatty acids. What's even greater is that we are able to prescribe bespoke blended products to help further support your skins health.

Common causes of a compromised skin barrier

  • Over cleansing the skin

  • Over exfoliation

  • Products containing synthetic fragrances or essential oils

  • Overuse of AHA's or Retinols

  • UV Damage

  • Environmental Health

  • Illness

If I'm honest, this is something which I have experienced myself when trialling products for the clinic. I often have to take my routine back to basics to repair the barrier function, so rest assured you are certainly not the only one who has done this to their skin.

By performing a detailed diagnostic analysis with the support of my Observ520 machine, we can take a deep dive into the current condition of your skin and enable me to advise on the best course of action to treat it. These sessions can sometimes be met with disappointment as I often strip back your current selection of products to only include a few supportive steps, this is to allow the skin to repair, replenish and regenerate.

Please do make contact with a skin expert if you are experiencing any symptoms of an impaired barrier, the skincare world is a minefield and we are the ones whose knowledge can advise you on the best course of action.

All the best,

Maddie x

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