How Long Does It Take to Repair Your Skin Barrier?

A healthy skin barrier is crucial to calm, clear, happy skin, while a damaged skin barrier is a recipe for redness, breakouts, and dryness. Here's how to tell if yours is damaged, plus how to fix it.

How Long Does It Take to Repair Your Skin Barrier?

A healthy skin barrier is crucial to calm, clear, happy skin, while a damaged skin barrier is a recipe for redness, breakouts, and dryness. Here's how to tell if yours is damaged, plus how to fix it.

Just a few years ago, most people would have no clue what you were talking about if you mentioned the skin barrier. Fast forward to today, and the barrier is at the heart of the skincare discussion – and for a good reason! A healthy skin barrier is crucial to calm, clear, happy skin, while a damaged skin barrier is a recipe for redness, breakouts, and dryness. 

How long does it take to repair your skin barrier?  And, what exactly do you need to do to fix it? In this guide, we’re breaking down what you need to know about healing and maintaining a healthy skin barrier. 

Skin Barrier 101

Let’s cover the basics: what exactly is the skin barrier? The term “skin barrier” refers to the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the epidermis. This layer of the skin is made up of skin cells called corneocytes, which are held together by lipids – more specifically, ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. 

The skin barrier functions as the body’s first line of defense against environmental aggressors that can harm the skin. It also works to prevent water loss to maintain a hydrated complexion. In other words, its two main roles are to protect the skin, and to keep it hydrated. 

When the barrier is healthy, it’s effectively able to block out bacteria, pollutants, and other potential irritants while also holding in water. The result? Skin that is able to stay supple, calm, and comfortable.

When the barrier is damaged, it’s a whole other story. An impaired barrier will be too weak to act as defense, leaving it more at risk of infection and visible signs of damage from environmental aggressors. This can lead to the skin looking and feeling rough, dry, and aggravated. 

What are the Signs of a Damaged Skin Barrier?

Some of the tell-tale signs of a damaged skin barrier include redness, dry and scaly skin, dull skin, tightness, rough patches, itchiness, and irritation – so basically, general discomfort in the skin. Additionally, when the barrier is weakened, you are more likely to experience acne, eczema, dermatitis, or rosacea flare ups. 

If you experience stinging when you apply skincare products, that’s also usually a sign that your barrier isn’t in great shape. 

What Causes Skin Barrier Damage?

Bad news: there are a lot of factors that can compromise skin barrier health. Here are some of the biggest offenders:

  • Over exfoliation (with either physical or chemical exfoliants)
  • Dermaplaning
  • Overuse of retinol and other harsh skincare actives 
  • Washing the face too frequently (more than two times per day)
  • Neglecting to use a moisturizer
  • Dry environments 
  • Wind
  • Overexposure to the sun
  • Pollutants and allergens
  • High stress levels

We know, we know – it’s overwhelming. Here’s a glimmer of hope: there is a lot that is within your control. By making some changes to your skincare routine and doing your part to protect and strengthen your skin, you can repair and fortify the barrier so that it functions optimally and is better able to withstand the elements. 

How Long Does it Take for the Skin Barrier to Repair?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It will depend largely on the extent of the damage, as well as what steps you take to heal the skin barrier (we’ll cover our top tips in a moment!). 

In some cases, the barrier repair process can take as little as two weeks (assuming you get to the root cause and remedy it accordingly). However, in other cases, it may take up to six months. 

So exactly how do you know if your skin barrier is healing? As you implement steps to repair and fortify the skin, you’ll notice that the signs of a compromised barrier will diminish. The skin should look and feel less aggravated, and acne, eczema, or rosacea flare ups should begin to clear away. 

How to Repair the Skin Barrier (and Maintain a Healthy Barrier in the Long Run!)

Thankfully, with the right routine (and a little bit of patience), it is possible to heal the barrier and get the skin back in shape. Here are our top skin barrier repair tips. 

Stick with a Super Simple, Gentle Routine

The very first step you’ll want to take is to pare down your skincare routine to the basics: cleanser, spot-treatment, moisturizer, and sunscreen (and possibly a gentle serum). Ditch the 10-step skincare and temporarily commit to a simple, gentle, no frills regimen.

Switch to Gentle, Skin Barrier Soothing Products 

If you’re using a more aggressive cleanser, swap that out for a mild hydrating formula. Harsh face washes can strip the skin of its natural oils and moisture, which is the last thing you need when your barrier is compromised! 

We love creamy formulas that work to restore hydration to the skin, ensuring the face feels soft and refreshed after cleansing, rather than tight and dry.  

Skip the serums and treatments with more aggressive active ingredients that may aggravate the skin, such as retinoids, Vitamin C, or chemical exfoliants (including acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid). You’ll also want to avoid products with alcohol or fragrances in the ingredient list, which can irritate the skin, and may hinder the barrier repair process. 

When it comes to your moisturizer, look for formulas made with hydrating ingredients that restore water to the skin. Ceramides fit the bill, and have been shown to improve skin barrier function. Other gentle ingredients that are great for moisturizing and restoring the skin include squalane, plant oils, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, panthenol (Vitamin B5), and glycerin.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is another great ingredient to keep an eye out for, as it has been shown to increase ceramide synthesis and improve barrier function

We also love centella asiatica (AKA gotu kola), which can help alleviate irritation and improve hydration levels by mitigating transepidermal water loss (TEWL). 

Add Probiotics to Your Routine to Support the Skin Barrier from Within

When it comes to discussions about healing the barrier, the focus tends to be on topical solutions. However, it’s equally as important to highlight how you can restore and fortify the barrier from within. The right probiotic supplement will be one of your best tools for supporting skin health from the inside-out by addressing imbalances in the gut. 

Glow Biome is a daily probiotic that was specifically designed with the skin in mind. It’s made with six clinically validated probiotic strains to promote clearer, healthier, and more hydrated skin. This includes Lactobacillus plantarum, which has been shown to increase ceramide levels, as well as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which enhances barrier function and boosts hydration. In fact, the supplement has been clinically proven to improve hydration levels in the skin, with visible results in just six weeks. 

Along with a gentle skincare routine, Glow Biome can be your secret weapon for restoring a compromised barrier. With consistent use, the expertly formulated supplement will also help you maintain hydrated skin that not only looks and feels amazing, but also functions optimally for a healthy, strong complexion.

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