Balance and patience are the key ingredients to help you achieve a healthy skin barrier.

You might have a damaged skin barrier if your skin is feeling dry, irritated, or super sensitive. But don’t worry! With a little TLC, you can reclaim your healthy glow with a little barrier repair. Here’s the lowdown on how to help your compromised skin reclaim its former glory.

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Your skin barrier (aka epidermis) takes a mighty beating. As the outermost layer of your skin, it faces everything from whipping winds to scorching sun. Stress, excessive drinking, smoking, lack of sleep, or various illnesses can also contribute to skin concerns.

But your skin barrier might also be hurting from your own skin-care routine. It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me. Overusing too many products with different active ingredients can be a recipe for skin barrier damage. If you’re an overzealous exfoliator or smearing your skin with products containing retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids, you need to pump the breaks.

Here are some tips for rebuilding your skin’s barrier!

Some active ingredients in your skin products help to exfoliate your skin, while others boost hydration. However, combining too many active ingredients at the same time can do more harm than good. Take a closer look at the active ingredients in your skin products and eliminate anything that contains retinoids (usually in the form of retinol) or AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). Think of this as an elimination diet for your skin.

Another way to immediately stop irritating your skin is to ease up on the exfoliation. Start by avoiding harsh chemical exfoliants. Retinol, for instance, can help prevent clogged pores and boost collagen production, but it can also be too much of a good thing if used too often or in combination with AHAs. Also, avoid exfoliating cleansers with glycolic acid or salicylic acid.

While chilling out on the chemical exfoliation, it’s a good idea to ease up on the physical exfoliation. Instead of treating your skin like old wooden furniture that needs power sanding, treat it like a newborn. When cleaning your skin, opt for lukewarm water over hot water and reach for a soft washcloth instead of a rough scrub brush.

Moisture is your skin’s best friend, so hydrate from the inside out. When it comes to moisture, you want to put it in and lock it in. Fill up that water bottle, pop it on your desk, and take some sips all day!

When in balance, your skin’s natural oils are your skin barrier’s best friend. A lot of popular cleansing products, like drying sulfates, strip away too much of your skin’s natural oil, leaving your skin barrier dried out and damaged. Instead, try a gentle cleanser with glycerin or hydrating ingredients naturally occurring in your skin, like hyaluronic acids or ceramides. Top this off with a very gentle, water-based moisturizer.

You are what you eat. And what you smoke. And what you worry about.

In other words, strive to find balance in your life when it comes to your diet, your stress levels, and your habits. Your skin barrier will thrive if you have a balanced diet, a mental health regimen, and regular fitness practice.

The sun can be a great source of vitamin D, but it can also damage the skin barrier. While you’re finding a new, gentler skin care routine, help your skin barrier by applying a simple and gentle sunscreen product on a daily basis. While you’re at it, don’t be shy about wearing a stylish hat for even more UV protection.

Inflammation can cause a number of woes, including damage to your skin barrier. Some skin care products contain anti-inflammatory ingredients like oats, squalane, niacinamide, or tiger grass. It might help to add foods to your diet that decrease inflammation, like fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.

Don’t expect an overnight rebound when it comes to skin barrier repair and recovery. Consistency and patience are your two greatest allies in building lasting skin resilience. Some experts estimate that a compromised skin barrier can heal at least a month. If the damage is more extensive, your skin can take up to three months to show lasting improvement.

It’s important to note that your skin might look worse before it feels better, as with any natural healing process. Try not to panic. Give your new skin routine some time to work. Swapping products too often can start the skin barrier damage cycle all over again.

You can usually spot skin barrier damage through these common symptoms:

You might have skin barrier damage if your skin feels extra dry, ashy, or flaky. When applying products, extra sensitivity, stinging, or burning is also a sign that your skin is crying out for help. A little pain might be normal when adjusting to a new product, but stop using that product if the pain lasts.

To boost skin care health, eliminate products with retinoids and AHAs, ease up on chemical and physical exfoliation, make your body a hydration station, and find a lifestyle that promotes both physical and mental health. Protect your skin from UV rays, reduce inflammation, and reach for gentle skin products that will help you balance your natural skin oils.

As you start your new skin care journey, remember to be patient and consistent as your natural glow gradually comes back!