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What's Going on in you Skin? - BARRIER FUNCTION PART 1

HOW YOUR SKIN FUNCTIONS

The key to healthy functioning skin is preserving and maintaining the skin’s barrier function. The barrier acts as our natural protection and is designed to keep helpful things in and harmful things out. Corneotherapy is a method of repairing the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, to improve the function of the deeper layers of the skin thereby preventing premature aging.

LAYERS OF THE SKIN

Epidermis Layer ~ the outermost layer of the skin responsible for barrier function.

Dermal Layer ~ the layer below the epidermis responsible for regeneration of the structural components of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid.

Subcutaneous Layer - the deepest layer underneath the dermis made up of fat, connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves.

skinVacious - Layers of the Skin

YOUR BARRIER DEFENSE

Acid Mantle ~ secreted by the sebaceous (oil) glands, it is a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin acting as first line barrier protection to bacteria, viruses and potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin.

Stratum Corneum ~ Corneocytes are flattened keratinocytes at the end of their keratinocyte journey.  They are programmed from birth to die and their final gift to you is moisture and lipids to protect you.  As the keratinocyte moves up the layers of the epidermis, it transforms and produces the essential elements that form your barrier.  These special cells manufacture our natural moisturizing factor (NMF) to hydrate our skin and our lipid matrix of ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids to seal in the moisture to make you waterproof.  Corneocytes form the bricks of the skin and the lipid matrix acts like mortar to hold them together.  

Lipid Bilayers ~ a thin membrane of 2 stacked layers of lipid molecules designed to protect and act as a barrier against bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants. These bilayers surround the corneocytes to incorporate water into the stratum corneum so that your skin is hydrated. Lipids sit on top of water to prevent moisture loss (TEWL—transepidermal water loss).

Any disruption of the barrier defense system will result in increased water evaporation leading to impaired enzyme activity affecting your natural exfoliation process, the alignment of the bilayers and the function of the acid mantle leading to dehydrated and sensitive skin.  Almost every natural chemical process in the body requires water to make it happen.  

Sensitivity occurs from a breach of the defense barrier resulting in inflammation, immune response and premature aging. Signs of impaired barrier defense are reactivity, redness, flaking, hives and blemishes.

skinVacious - Skin Microbiome

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

When the barrier is impaired, water evaporates and substances can cause irritation.  Without hydration, the skin cannot perform its natural regenerative functions and it triggers inflammation and the activation of our immune system, our natural built in protection.  Our skin's resources are more focused on protection rather than the repair and regeneration of the skin.  When the barrier is intact with optimum hydration, the skin will turn its attention to renewal and rejuvenation.  Your skin care works best when the skin is well hydrated.

HOW TO BUILD A STRONGER BARRIER

To preserve and build a stronger barrier is to limit the removal of skin cells from the surface of the skin.  Techniques like chemical peels, physical exfoliants, microdermabrasion and lasers seek to remove skin cells known as ablation.  If used too frequently, the balance in the skin can be tipped in a direction that impairs the barrier function.  An impaired barrier will lead to ongoing low grade inflammation, something that may not be visible or felt until sensitivity and redness appear.  These modalities should not be viewed negatively, all modalities have their place and time, but it is about maintaining balance as the skin needs time to repair and rebuild between ablative techniques.

Cosmetic skin rolling is non-ablative.  Although the microtips enter the skin, nothing is removed from the surface.  The skin is flexible and pliable so it bounces back and returns to normal as quickly as 15 minutes.  There are several studies demonstrating that the epidermis remains intact and thickened after skin rolling.  If you want to build a stronger barrier, consider adding cosmetic skin rolling to your evening skin care routine a few times a week.