Caring for your skin is important not only for cosmetic purposes but also for your health and overall wellness. While having soft, supple skin is a nice bonus, a regular skin and sun care routine encourages a stronger, healthier skin barrier and helps protect against damage.
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis, and its purpose is to act as a protective shield between your body and the outside environment. Recognizing signs of skin barrier damage and knowing how to repair damaged skin is important. Several factors can compromise the barrier, such as sun exposure, aesthetic procedures, wounds, and certain skin conditions. Signs of damaged skin include dryness, itchiness, discoloration, acne, sensitivity, inflammation, and infection.
Once your skin is damaged, repairing it is possible with a careful skin and sun care regimen. When used together, sun protection and products formulated to support epidermal health can restore the skin barrier to its healthy state. Here is how to repair damaged skin and prevent further harm.
Skin Damage from the Sun
The sun is a great source of vitamin D, and sometimes, a little sunshine feels nice on the skin. However, the sun is also the greatest source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The two main types of radiation—UVA and UVB rays—pose a threat to the skin barrier. According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, UV radiation can start becoming harmful after just five to 10 minutes of unprotected exposure. Prolonged periods of sun exposure can lead to sun-damaged skin from free radical damage, which can appear in the form of sunburns, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, discoloration, and sagginess and can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Preventing Sun Damage
The best way to protect the skin barrier is by practicing sun safety before damage is done. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen like the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 can help prevent damage from sun exposure. When using sunscreen, it's important to use it correctly for maximum protection against the sun's harmful rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology advises the following sunscreen application tips:
- Ensure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher and provides broad-spectrum coverage
- Apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before exposure
- Use about 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body
- Don't miss places that are easy to forget like the ears, neck, feet, etc.
- Reapply sunscreen as directed on the label, especially if swimming or sweating
Repairing Sun Damage
Other Causes of Skin Damage to Consider
When you think about protecting your skin, you should think beyond just basic sun care. Your skin barrier faces many internal and external threats every day, and steps can be taken to prevent and treat the damage.
The American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine considers the following to be aesthetic procedures:
Laser and IPL treatment
While these procedures are associated with some cosmetic benefits, they can also negatively affect the skin barrier.
Some procedures, such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, have been shown to temporarily damage the skin barrier per a 2004 study published in Dermatologic Surgery. Usually, it recovers within a few days. During this period, it's recommended to use skin care products that prioritize skin barrier repair in your post-procedure routine.
Cuts, scrapes, wounds, and skin injuries of various kinds damage your skin barrier. During this time when skin is injured, pay extra care and attention to the wound site to promote quick healing.
Certain skin conditions, such as rosacea and dermatitis, are more prone to skin barrier damage.
Researchers have found a link between the state of the skin barrier and rosacea symptoms. Skin barrier repair and improvement are associated with significantly reduced symptoms, such as inflammation.
A 2018 study published in Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Research found that people with atopic dermatitis are prone to skin barrier dysfunction and defects. Improving the skin barrier function by implementing a moisturizer into your routine may help improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
How to Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier
No matter the cause, skin barrier repair sounds daunting, but it is possible with the proper routine. The EltaMD Skin Recovery System was designed to help repair, renew, and protect your skin while alleviating symptoms caused by skin barrier damage.
The system consists of a toner, serum, and moisturizer that work together to reduce redness and irritation, increase cell turnover, stimulate protein production, and enhance skin's natural antioxidant protection.
Powered by AAComplex Technology, the three-step Skin Recovery System promotes optimal skin barrier repair with amino acids taurine, arginine, and glycine. These amino acids accelerate cell metabolism so skin regenerates and heals quickly. They also strengthen the proteins found in the skin, such as collagen and filaggrin, which help form a tight junction on the outermost layer that protects from environmental stressors.