The Lipid Barrier - Decoded

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If you’re a skincare junkie, you’ve probably heard the phrase “lipid barrier” tossed around a couple of times. Dozens of Youtubers and estheticians preach its importance for a glowing complexion. You’ve probably been warned (perhaps even by us) not to damage it.  This elusive aspect of your skin’s anatomy apparently determines everything when it comes to maintaining a youthful, clear, and radiant appearance.

But what exactly is the lipid barrier?

Despite its esoteric-sounding name, the lipid barrier simply signifies the outermost layer of your skin. This layer, your stratum corneum, is composed of a lipid matrix. Let’s compare it to a brick wall: the stratum corneum is the wall itself, the bricks are the cells, and the cement is made of lipids. Each skin cell is coated in lipid, fat composed of fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides (Smeda and Bouwstra 2016). These walls of fat surrounding your skin cells are essential for the skin’s function and protection. 

What does it do?

The lipid barrier is, quite literally, a barrier against the outside world. It protects against damage to your skin and your entire body. The stronger your lipid barrier, the stronger your protection against environmental aggressors such as UV rays and free radicals (damaging pollutants).

Just as lipids keeps harsh environmental stressors out, they also keep moisture in. A fortified fatty wall retains the natural moisture produced by your body to keep your skin hydrated. Instead of evaporating into the air in a process known as trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), a healthy lipid barrier encourages the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) inside of your cells. And hydration, as we all know, is non-negotiable for healthy skin.

A weak lipid barrier has a profound effect on your skin’s appearance. Dry, rough, aging skin is a direct result of a crippled lipid barrier. As we age, we lose essential ceramides and fatty acids that are produced within the skin to maintain itself. This accounts for natural visible signs of aging. Excess exposure to sunlight or diet can also have a direct effect on your skin’s health and speed up the aging process.  

It’s also easy to inadvertently speed up the aging process by stripping or irritating the skin, even (or especially) while using products that claim to enhance its appearance. Generally, this is due to synthetic products that use irritants such as harsh retinoids or alcohol. Over-exfoliation may also lead to a sensitized outer layer.

Lipid-loving Products

Work with the lipid barrier instead of against it. Instead of potentially sensitizing your skin with harsh or irritating products, try gentle and natural alternatives. While cleansing, using anti-aging or anti-blemish products, make sure to use ingredients that would not pose a threat to your protective barrier, such as our Anti-Pollution Cleansing Oil and our Detox Serum. Instead of a classic retinol, opt for natural vitamin A. Rosehip is a great gentle alternative, found in our Daily Botanical Serum.

It’s also possible to slow the natural aging process by using products that stimulate collagen production and replenish the fats your skin naturally loses. Choose products with fatty acids to make up for the lack of their natural production. Ingredients that mirror the composition of your skin are the best options, since they will aid its natural rejuvenation process. 

All of our products are chock-full of natural fatty acids and antioxidants to plump and fortify your lipid barrier. Our proprietary Lipid-Lock™ technology penetrates deeply into the skin to deliver these essential ingredients, leaving your skin more dewy, glowing, and hydrated. 

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