Your clever skin has not one but two protective layers to help fend off environmental aggressors. Find out what they are and how you can help ensure your skin barrier is working at its best.
Why your skin is important
Our skin is not only our biggest organ, it is also the first line of defense and has a hugely important role in keeping us healthy. Physically, it protects the body from external threats including pollution, infectious agents, chemicals, systemic toxicity and allergens. Internally, the skin helps to maintain homeostasis (equilibrium) and protects the body from too much water loss, preventing dehydration. When skin lacks an effective barrier function, elements in the environment, including pollution and UVA/UVB rays from sun, can penetrate more easily causing sensitivity, irritation and premature ageing. Luckily skin has two lines of defence, one at the surface of the skin and another deeper layer.
The 1st barrier: the hydrolipidic film
Skin’s self-protection system starts on the surface with an oily layer called the hydrolipidic film. This is formed because skin produces a matrix of essential lipids that surround dead cells that are naturally expended and rise up through the layers of skin. This matrix of dead cells and lipids mesh together to form corneocytes, which act as a physical barrier against potential irritants. This layer also helps to seal in moisture, making skin more hospitable to friendly bacteria.
The 2nd barrier: skin’s own living ecosystem
Our bodies can be seen as ecosystems that harbor a microbial universe. The body is made up of approximately 10 trillion human cells, along with 100 trillion bacteria, yeasts, and single cell protozoa (representing thousands of different species), and 1,000 trillion viruses which live in and on our bodies. But while much research has been done into the effects of the gut microbiome (the mix of bacteria, yeasts, and parasites that live in your body) , studies into the importance of the skin’s microbiome is still relatively new. However dermatological research is now revealing how important the skin’s microbiome is. Skin’s health and comfort are heavily reliant on these friendly microbes, which help regulate skin’s inner processes.
So how can I bolster my skin’s two barriers?
Latest research into the microbiome has shown that to lastingly relieve symptoms of sensitivity and restore skin’s comfort, a modern-day moisturiser needs to work on both the skin’s constituent barriers - its precious lipids and its fragile microbiome, with expert prebiotic dermo-cosmetics.
- To restore the hydrolipidic film: look for products with a combination of emollient, humectant and occlusive active ingredients. One top-notch active is Ceramide-3, which replaces natural lipids forming skin’s physical protective barrier.
- To replenish the microbiome: source next-generation prebiotic ingredients such as La Roche-Posay thermal spring water, packed with trace elements able to drive the growth and development of the 500 species of bacteria found on the skin. The Toleriane Sensitive range is a range of prebiotic moisturisers for all skin types that not only repair the cutaneous barrier but also preserve the microbial barrier, hydrating skin for up to 48 hours, while intensely soothing, calming and reducing irritations. Choose Toleriane Sensitive Creme for sensitive normal to combination skin, Toleriane Sensitive Riche for dry skin and Toleriane Sensitive Fluid for oily skin. These high tolerance creams are all tested on sensitive skin and really pack a punch where your skin is concerned.