Asian girl patting her cheeks in front of a small mirror.

As the body’s defense against outside irritants, the skin is a hardworking organ that deserves TLC. However, going overboard can result in a damaged skin barrier that’s unable to perform its job well.

Influencer culture is making everyone more susceptible to damaging their skin. You see a product on TikTok and try it out. Your favorite brand launches a new collection and you add it to your cart. Your friend raves about her “holy grail” ingredient and you make a beeline for the store.

While trying different products can be educational, it can take a toll on your skin. , , and brightening treatments are just the tip of the iceberg of culprits. Frequent facials and peels can also cause problems. If you’re not careful, these otherwise beneficial skin treats can do more harm than good.

What Is a Damaged Skin Barrier?

Your skin barrier, also known as the , has a host of functions. It contains lipids that help maintain water content, protect the skin from microbes, reduce the effects of UV rays, and fight oxidative stress.

A damaged skin barrier has an altered composition of and decreased , which compromises the barrier’s ability to maintain water. It’s also unable to protect the skin from allergens, which can lead to flare-ups.

Conditions such as eczema and other types of dermatitis can make you more prone to a damaged skin barrier. You may experience dryness, itchiness, scales and rough patches, acne, or in some cases, skin infections.

How to Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier

Repairing a damaged skin barrier isn’t as simple as applying a cocktail of creams every night. The process requires patience, gentle care, and an understanding of skincare ingredients before you see any results. But don’t be discouraged. While it may take some time, doing the following things will help strengthen your skin.

Know your triggers.

Since a damaged skin barrier is more sensitive and prone to irritation, it’s best to know which products or ingredients irritate your skin. Avoid these triggers to protect against further inflammation and keep your skin from breaking. You may also want to steer clear of harsh climates and toxins (such as those in ) as your skin heals.

Bathe with lukewarm water.

Protect your dry skin by avoiding hot water altogether, as it can reverse your efforts to repair your damaged skin barrier. Heat draws moisture from the skin and makes it feel tight or itchy. Furthermore, hot water in the shower creates hot steam, which does the same.

Chuck harsh products.

Reevaluate your skincare regimen and on your products. For now, stop using those that contain AHAs and BHAs, which can contribute to dryness. Avoid exfoliating with scrubs and using harsh soaps. Choose products with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which aid in barrier restoration. More importantly, wear sunscreen every day.

Be gentle on your skin. 

Start handling your skin with care to prevent further irritation. For example, pat your skin instead of rubbing it with a towel after cleansing. Press your products onto your skin for better absorption. Additionally, avoid fabrics that may cause friction on irritated areas.

Moisturize with thick formulas.

Switch to thicker formulas that contain occlusive ingredients, such as petroleum jelly for the body and ceramides for the face. These can help lock in moisture and accelerate skin healing. Try this gentle routine:

  • starting with a cleansing balm that lifts makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin’s surface. Massage a pea-sized amount all over your face.
  • Follow with a soft, gentle cleanser like Dove Facial Cleansing Mousse Moisture Care. The mousse draws excess oil and impurities from your skin while hydrating it with 40% Active Boost serum and .
  • After cleansing, pat your skin dry, apply your products as usual, and finish with POND'S Bright Miracle Day Cream. It contains ceramides that lock in moisture and brightening niasorcinol to stimulate skin renewal.

You can start repairing a damaged skin barrier with gentle products and care. Practice the habits above to strengthen your skin and keep it healthy.