It’s easy to conclude that a complexion free of blemishes, redness, excess oil or dry patches is considered to be “healthy,” but as Miami dermatologist Annie Gonzalez, MD explains, it’s not that simple. In fact, to understand skin health, we must first dive into the importance of the skin barrier.
“Healthy skin will always have a strong barrier that works effectively at retaining moisture and helping to protect skin from aggressors and irritants,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “Building up the skin’s barrier will always benefit the appearance of the skin, inevitably leading to plump-looking skin with less sensitivities and blemishes.”
Similarly, when the skin barrier is compromised, issues such as itchiness, stinging or burning of the skin, extreme oiliness or dryness, sudden breakouts or increased sensitivity can arise, adds Dr. Gonzalez. “When skin is healthy, its layers work hard to protect us. But when it’s compromised, the skin’s ability to work as an effective barrier is impaired,” she adds.
To ensure our skin—and its barrier—are as safeguarded as possible, top dermatologists experts say there are certain non-negotiables to implement into your daily routine for better, more comfortable skin.
Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill says staying hydrated throughout the day, exercising and keeping a healthy, relatively clean diet will work wonders when it comes to a healthier skin barrier.
Dr. Gonzalez suggests sticking to a diet that is high in fatty acids—especially omega 6 acids—lower in glycemic index, decreased dairy to cut down inflammation, and an increased intake of leafy greens and berries for a boost of antioxidants.
“Stress is proven to slow down the skin-healing process, including skin-barrier recovery,” says Dr. Gonzalez, suggesting taking a good look at your stress levels and how they may be negatively affecting your skin. Dr. Longwill agrees, adding that getting seven to eight hours of solid sleep every night is a must in the journey to better skin.
In order to repair your skin’s barrier, Dr. Gonzalez says a good first step is simplifying your skin care-regimen. “Use products with a suitable pH, and a moisturizer that contains ceramides or a humectant like hyaluronic acid,” she says. “Moisturizers with petrolatum can also help your skin barrier seal in moisture.”
More better-skin recommendations include cleansing daily with a gentle, fragrance-free formula that won’t strip away natural oils—Dr. Longwill cautions us to not over-wash the skin—such as the Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($10) by CeraVe. “Stay away from astringents, alcohols and detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, and cut back on the physical scrubs,” adds. Dr. Gonzalez.
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