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Know the risks of having the barrier function compromised

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Most of the time stratum corneum does its job without much effort on your part. But sometimes this powerful little barrier doesn’t work as well as it should, and that’s when you’ll notice things going a bit wrong.

For example, you might see:

  • Dry, dehydrated and flaky skin

The stratum corneum keeps itself hydrated in two main ways: its oily lipids form a film that stops water from evaporating, and it holds onto water like a sponge via the natural moisturising factor (NMF). If either the lipids or the NMF are disrupted, water evaporates faster and you end up with dry, dehydrated, flaky skin that feels tight and irritated. Dehydrated skin also doesn’t renew itself properly, so you might notice cracking and roughness too (39).

  • Sensitive skin

If the barrier isn’t functioning properly, it isn’t just letting things out… it’s also letting things in, and not all of them are good. In particular, irritants can get into your skin and cause redness, burning and itching. Even if you’ve used a product without issues before, using it on a weakened barrier can result in irritation (40).

  • Breakouts

A disrupted barrier is more prone to inflammation, which is one of the main contributing factors to acne and breakouts.

If you let your barrier suffer, you can end up with serious skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis or infections.