How to restore and protect your skin’s barrier function in winter

Winter can be a magical season, filled with cosy fires, indoor celebrations and chilly days all wrapped up in warm winter woolies. But for many, it’s also a time when skin problems seem to flare up, with dryness, redness and irritation becoming all too common.

The culprit? An impaired skin barrier. Understanding how to identify, repair and protect your skin’s barrier function is essential for maintaining a healthy, glowing complexion throughout the colder months.

How to recognise an impaired skin barrier

The skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, is the outermost layer of the skin. It acts as a protective shield, keeping moisture in and harmful environmental aggressors out. When this barrier is compromised, it can lead to a host of skin issues.

Signs of an impaired skin barrier include:

  • Dryness and flakiness – If your skin feels tight, rough, or has visible flakes, it may be struggling to retain moisture.
  • Redness and sensitivity – Increased sensitivity, redness or irritation are clear indicators that your skin’s protective barrier is not functioning optimally.
  • Breakouts – An impaired barrier can also lead to an increase in breakouts and blemishes, as the skin’s natural defence mechanisms are weakened.

Why does this happen?

Several factors can contribute to a weakened skin barrier, particularly in winter:

  • Harsh weather conditions – Cold temperatures, low humidity and strong winds strip the skin of its natural oils.
  • Indoor heating – While it keeps us warm, central heating reduces indoor humidity levels, further drying out the skin.
  • Hot showers – Long, hot showers may feel soothing, but can disrupt the lipid layer of the skin, leading to increased moisture loss.
  • Over-exfoliation – Using harsh exfoliants or over-exfoliating can damage the skin’s surface, impairing its ability to protect itself.

How to fix it

Repairing and protecting your skin barrier requires a thoughtful, multifaceted approach. Here are some effective strategies:

1. Choose the right products

Using the right skincare products is crucial for barrier repair. Opt for natural, nutrient-rich products that support skin health and pH balance.

Look for:

  • Serums – Hydrating serums containing hyaluronic acid and organic superfood oils can draw moisture into the skin, keeping it plump and hydrated.
  • Moisturisers – Choose a rich, deeply nourishing moisturiser that helps lock in moisture and reinforce the skin’s barrier. Ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids and vitamins are excellent for barrier repair.
  • Masks – Hydrating and soothing masks can provide an extra boost of moisture and nutrients, helping to calm irritated skin.
  • Oils – Natural oils such as jojoba, rosehip and squalane mimic the skin’s natural sebum and help restore its lipid barrier.

2. Embrace natural superfoods

Natural skincare products that incorporate superfoods can be incredibly beneficial. Superfoods are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish the skin and promote barrier repair. Ingredients like baobab, almond oil and shea butter have anti-inflammatory properties, while argan oil, marula oil and oat extract provide deep hydration and soothing benefits.

“Our philosophy at Eco Diva is rooted in harnessing the power of nature to heal and protect the skin. Natural superfoods are not just a trend; they are a testament to the incredible resilience and restorative capabilities of the Earth’s bounty. Ingredients like cacao, chia and marula oil are rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, which help rebuild the skin’s barrier and maintain its integrity,” says founder, Nicole Sherwin.

“By focusing on pH-balanced, nutrient-dense formulations, we can offer solutions that are both gentle and effective, ensuring your skin remains healthy and resilient through the harshest winter conditions.”

Daily practices for barrier health:

  • Limit hot showers – Stick to lukewarm water to avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils.
  • Humidify your space – Using a humidifier can help maintain indoor moisture levels, preventing your skin from drying out.
  • Layer your skincare – Apply products from thinnest to thickest, starting with a hydrating serum, followed by a moisturiser, and finishing with an oil or balm to seal in hydration.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of filtered water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.

Winter doesn’t have to be the enemy of your skin. By understanding the signs of an impaired skin barrier and taking proactive steps to repair and protect it, you can enjoy a healthy, glowing complexion all season long.

Embrace the power of natural skincare products, enriched with superfoods and nutrients, to nourish and fortify your skin against the elements. With the right care, your skin can thrive – no matter the weather.

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