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7 Expert Tips on How to Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier

Age is also a factor, says facialist Sarah Chapman. “As we age, our skin slows down its own production of lipids, ceramides, and hydration, three key components that make up the skin’s barrier.”

So, when your skin barrier fails, how do you fix it?

Simplify your skin care routine

The first thing you should do is identify and rule out any possible causes of skin barrier damage incentives. “Take out your skincare routine and keep it simple,” advises facialist Katharine Mackenzie Paterson. “Think about cleansers, moisturizers, and SPF—especially to remove any retinoids or acids.” For cleansers, she suggests opting for a nourishing, calming, fragrance-free cleanser or cleanser, like this one from iS Clinical Or La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser. Stick to your skincare routine and “try not to change too much because it will take weeks to get things under control,” says Dr. Craythorne. “It can actually get worse before it gets better.”

Restore and Repair

Find a ceramide-rich moisturizer and incorporate hyaluronic acid into your routine to soothe and hydrate skin, said Dr. Summerrad. “I recommend Vichy Mineral 89 as a great serum, followed by a soothing moisturizer,” she says. Dr. Craythorne recommends La Roche-Posay’s Cicplast Baume B5, Cetaphil’s Rich Night Cream and SkinCeuticals’ Epidermal Repair, a range of repairing moisturizers on the market for every budget—all of which help restore the skin barrier to its original state status.

In addition to hyaluronic acid, “look for barrier-building ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and fatty acids,” advises Dr. Marco Nicoloso, Ouronyx’s aesthetic doctor. “They’ll both help improve dryness and strengthen the barrier.” To combat inflammation and help jump-start the repair process, facialist Shane Cooper recommends trying red light therapy—you can use an at-home LED mask or visit a facialist. He combines it with many rich skin care formulas to help restore moisture.

Gently Does It

It sounds obvious, but in addition to cutting back on your skincare routine, it’s important to avoid any Something to manually exfoliate, like an overly harsh washcloth or scrub. “You should also use warm water to avoid further irritation,” says Dr. Mahto, who adds that there are no quick fixes, but if you follow these tips, the skin should heal quickly. “I would conservatively say that you can expect to see improvement in the barrier within three to four weeks – for long-term damage it could take longer than three months.”

cuts out the actives…

then slowly reintroduces them – but only when the skin is healthy again. “Reintroduce actives one at a time (e.g., use a retinoid for a few weeks before adding vitamin C or a liquid exfoliator), but if you have chronic skin barrier dysfunction, you should always choose a milder active ,” said Dr. Summerrad. For example, you can swap out retinol for retinal (Medik8’s Crystal Retinal is a good choice), since it’s gentler on the skin. When it comes to acids, look for PHAs rather than AHAs. “And use liquid sunscreens because they require less rubbing than creams—I like Vichy’s Capital Soleil because it also contains niacinamide,” adds Dr. Sommerlad.

How to further prevent damage

“Like everything in life, a healthy skin barrier is all about moderation and balance,” Mackenzie Paterson said. “Try to avoid any triggers that have caused it in the past, and don’t change the products you’re using every five minutes.” Take a holistic approach to your routine and listen to your skin, especially when adding new active ingredients, advises Chapman, who says it’s all about starting slowly and giving the skin time to adjust.



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