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The Skin Barrier: What Exactly is it?

While people around you might not always understand boundaries, your skin naturally does. The skin being the largest organ of your body, accounts for roughly 15% of your body weight or about one-seventh of it, draws a huge line of difference between your internal organs and its affair with the external environment (completely forbidden). And that means, it has its own way of functioning & maintaining this difference. A whole different intricate network of different cells, proteins, ceramides, and lipids is what makes up this strong, yet delicate organ. The skin as a whole is a protective film for the delicate insides, but this protective in question, has one for itself too, which we commonly refer to as the “skin barrier”. And it is definitely a term you’ve come across in the world of skincare and holistic wellness. So let’s dive into a little more detail to figure out this labyrinth called the skin barrier.

Decoding skin barrier, let’s go back to the basics first. The skin broadly is made up of three layers, including varied sub layers in each of these layers. The three layers are: Epidermis, (the topmost layer), Dermis (the middle layer), and Hypodermis (the bottom layer). This topmost layer is again divided into sub parts and the topmost layer of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, is known as the skin barrier. The stratum corneum's structure is frequently compared to that of a brick wall by scholars and scientists. The skin cells are the bricks in this instance. The skin barrier is only the mortar that keeps everything else together. Essential nutrients including cholesterol, ceramides and fatty acids are present in this mortar. Because they work to maintain the deeper layers of skin's hydration and nourishment, these substances are collectively referred to as skin's natural moisturizing factor.

Researchers usually concur that the skin barrier plays three crucial roles out of all the tasks it performs which includes: retaining water to keep your body and skin hydrated, delivering essential nutrients to your skin, and protecting your body from external stresses like pollution and UV radiation. These different interrelated variables work together to maintain homeostasis, or the harmony of your body's various systems. If your skin barrier isn't functioning properly, your skin will be more prone to dryness, or trans-epidermal water loss, resulting in a dull, dry appearance. Your skin will also be less likely to be able to defend itself against aggressors like free radicals, which can cause physical changes like discolouration and premature wrinkles. Environmental factors are thought to be responsible for up to 97% of visible skin aging, according to specialists. In other words, any skin issues you may be experiencing are almost definitely the result of a poorly functioning skin barrier. So keeping this barrier healthy is essential as it is what’s responsible for the way your skin feels and appears to be. 

 According to dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD of Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery, your skin is growing more prone to infections and rashes if your skin barrier is unhealthy.Your skin barrier has a modest acidic pH. This acidity (the acid mantle) aids in the formation of a buffer against the growth of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungus that could injure your skin and cause infections and other skin disorders.It is especially crucial to protect the acid mantle around wounds because the acidity of the skin is required for many biological interactions during the healing process. Which is why keeping your skin moisturized with moisturizers or creams is important. Using a moisturizer which is enriched with Hyaluronic Acid or formulations with ceramides, and of course maintaining the skin’s pH level by avoiding over use of actives or harsh chemicals, all of which really goes a long way in repairing and protecting your skin barrier. 

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