The skincare industry impressively progressed over the past few years with more research, innovation and technology moulding new ways that we can be looking after our skin and optimising its health. Through this research, a category that has found permanent footing has been skincare acids – specifically, exfoliating acids. Exfoliating skincare acids are largely made up of a triad of AHAs, BHAs and PHAs that work on the skin’s epidermal or dermal layers to slough away dead skin cells, promote collagen production, regenerate new skin cells and target concerns such as dullness and pigmentation. Often considered the miracle workers in skincare, exfoliating acids are transformative and potent. However, is their potency and efficacy becoming a problem when we are considering the overall health of our skin? The skin’s cellular structure is made up of the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous fat but primarily focusing on the epidermis, the structure is broken down into 5 main layers. The external layer that exists between the body and the environment is the stratum corneum or more commonly known as the skin’s barrier function. It is this barrier function that becomes vulnerable and weak when we consistently use exfoliating acids to replenish our complexions. Our skin barrier guards against the external environmental factors such as extreme temperatures and pollutants that could potentially penetrate and harm the skin. As a protective barrier, our skin barrier is reinforced with an acid mantle, this acid mantle is a slightly acidic film made up of natural oils, amino acids and sweat that covers the skin in a protective layer. As a result, introducing too many acids or overuse in general can in fact damage and weaken the skin barrier which can result in inflammation, irritation, and breakouts.
When the skin barrier becomes compromised, there are tell telling signs to note:
- Flaky skin
- Dry Skin
- Skin becomes extremely sensitive
A change in your skin’s behavioural pattern in general is a prompt to pause and reflect on the routine your skin is currently under.
When trying to repair and restore your skin barrier, it’s about replenishing the moisture and hydration back into the skin helping it to become resilient yet flexible. This therefore focuses on maintaining the right amount of lipids and natural moisturising factors to restore an equilibrium.
No Physical Scrubs
It is recommended to temporarily stop using any physical scrubs as this can be considered too harsh for the skin. SKINDAYS would recommend introducing a soft flannel to help cleanse and exfoliate the skin or smart gadgets to help cleanse, exfoliate and massage the skin, helping to stimulate the skin’s natural healing processes.
Swap Out Your Skincare Acids
It is not to say that skincare acids are bad for the skin, but if your skin is experiencing an overuse of exfoliating acids, swapping them out for friendlier alternatives that act as a building block instead will help to restore your barrier health. Niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid are great and effective ingredients that will help to improve and repair the lipid barrier function.Another fundamental ingredient to actively introduce is antioxidants, they will help to protect the skin against environmental aggressors and prevent the process of free radical damage.
Support From Within
Diet is everything and so supplementing ceramides, natural antioxidants, and essential fatty acids into your diet (such as Omega 3 & 6, nuts & blueberries) will help to nourish the skin from the inside out, whilst the topical treatments work from the outside in.
One of the most effective ways of protecting your skin barrier is to apply sunscreen daily. Preventing damage from both sun and artificial light, sunscreen will prevent further damage to the skin barrier whilst it is in repair.
Strengthen Your Skin Microbiome
As part of skin barrier function, your microbiome is the physical layer of protection that is then also part of the acid mantle. Focusing in on the microbiome and regulating the function will help to not only lower inflammation but also strengthen the skin barrier overall. Prebiotics, postbiotics and fermented ingredients are effective ingredients you can introduce to optimise the barrier overall.Skincare acids aren’t the enemy but understanding what works for your skin is vital if wanting to create harmony in your skincare routine overall. In skincare, it is all about a balance, working with exfoliating acids to regenerate skin cells but also supporting and strengthening ingredients such as pre/postbiotics and niacinamide to support the skin’s cycle and barrier.