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. Read on to learn 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

A recent EltaMD study found that, when used together, EltaMD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and Skin Recovery System work to protect against sun damage and help return skin to a healthy state.

The Skin Recovery System is powered by a blend of amino acids called AAComplex, which is specifically formulated to repair, renew, and strengthen skin. It's found in all four steps of the system: the EltaMD Skin Recovery Essence Toner, the EltaMD Skin Recovery Serum, the EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer, and the new EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask.

The serum contains the highest concentration of amino acids, including Arginine, Taurine, and Glycine. Together, this trio reduces redness, heals damage, and boosts skin immunity. They work in harmony to reinforce skin protection and encourage healthy skin from the inside out.

While the serum is the most potent product thanks to its small molecular size, the night mask is especially beneficial because sleep can help your skin heal and repair faster. When you're awake, your skin is exposed to stressors like sunlight, pollution, debris, and harsh environments. In turn, your skin care products fend off these stressors and counteract harmful lifestyle factors, like stress, sleep deprivation, smoking, sedentary activity, and poor eating habits.

At night, stress levels are lower, collagen levels are up, and cell mitosis (the process where skin cells divide and renew themselves) is at its highest, according to Healthline. In turn, your body goes to work to naturally repair itself.

Studies have shown that circadian rhythm plays an important role in skin health. Thus, it makes sense to double down on your nighttime skin care, especially if you want to target concerns like sun damage or acne. The EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask helps boost skin healing with chronobiology technology, which supports your skin's natural circadian rhythm while you sleep soundly. When you wake up, say hello to refreshed and revitalized skin.

SEE HOW SKIN CARE MEETS SUN CARE FOR GLOWING RESULTS: The EltaMD Skin Recovery System and UV Clear will work together to repair your skin barrier from past damage while protecting against harmful UV rays every day.

Other Causes of Skin Damage to Consider

When you think about protecting your skin, you should think beyond basic sun care. Your skin barrier faces many internal and external threats every day, and steps can be taken now to prevent and treat any damage.

Aesthetic Procedures

The American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine considers the following to be aesthetic procedures:

  • Chemical peels

  • Dermal fillers

  • Microdermabrasion

  • Laser and IPL treatment

  • Botulinum toxin

While these procedures are associated with some cosmetic benefits, they can also negatively affect the skin barrier.

Some procedures, like chemical peels and microdermabrasion, have been shown to temporarily damage the skin barrier, per a 2004 study published in Dermatologic Surgery. Usually, the skin recovers within a few days. During this period, it's recommended to use 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.

Skin Conditions

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

Skin barrier repair may sound daunting, but don't fret—the EltaMD Skin Recovery System has your back. It was designed to help repair, renew, and protect your skin while alleviating symptoms caused by skin barrier damage. These products also strengthen the proteins found in your skin, like collagen and filaggrin, which help form a tight junction on the outermost layer that protects your skin from environmental stressors. Add the Skin Recovery System to your nighttime routine and finally achieve the ultimate beauty rest.


  • Lacey Muinos

    Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.

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