Skin Barrier Function and How to Protect It

LAST UPDATED: JAN 17, 2023 / By Nura / SkinAnatomy

What is skin barrier?

The outermost layer of the human epidermis is known as the skin barrier. The primary purpose of the skin barrier is to protect a human being from environmental damage such as strain, tension, irritation, and inflammation. It also provides good kinds of stuff to the skin like natural sebum and even holds moisture on the skin.

The skin barrier looks like a single layer of skin through your naked eyes. It is around 50 to 100 micrometer thick and is made up of corneocyte cells that work like a brick wall to protect your skin. These cells have a tight bonding between them by fats which work as mortar. These mortars are acids such as cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids. Natural moisturizers are made up of a protein called filaggrin in the skin barrier. The factor responsible for producing natural moisturizer is known as NMF (Natural moisturizing factors).

A person skin is made up of many layers. Each layer has different purposes and functions to protect your body. For example, the skin barrier is a fantastic brick wall responsible for keeping you alive.

Some of the skin barrier functions are listed below.

+ Protect you from pollution available in the atmosphere

+ Never let the harsh ultraviolet rays of the Sun affect you

+ Protects you from skin infection, skin irritation, and inflammation

+ Hold you from getting dehydrated as long as it can. It provokes the loosening of water content that is present inside your body and keeps you hydrated

+ Never let toxins enter your body through the skin

+ It keeps you hydrated as it retains moisture from the water content present inside your body.

+ Skin barriers don’t let communicable and non-communicable diseases enter your body and keep you fit and fine.

Once a person’s skin barrier gets damaged, it could lead to various problems such as flaky or itchy skin and dry skin, and it can cause great problems like psoriasis and eczema.

Factors that lead to reduce skin barrier function

There are various reasons how can skin barrier get damage. A damaged skin barrier can create many problems and reduce your skin’s quality. Let’s look at the factors that can lead to skin barrier reduced capability.

+ Weather can be responsible for damage too. Extreme cold and extreme hot weather can contribute to reduce capability of skin barrier function. You can experience this kind of environments at Kuwait, with 45 degrees Celsius temperature in the month of July, or minus 25 degrees Celsius temperature in Alaska during winter season.

+ We don’t just breathe or eat environmental-toxin, we also absorb some of it through our skin. These type of pollution on the skin can led to allergic with its irritating content that penetrate to skin barrier.

+ Smoking tobacco or nicotine can be responsible for skin barrier damage as the free radicals from the smoke, also known as lipid peroxide can reduce the skin barrier function and led to dry skin.

+ Exposing your body to the UV rays under direct sunlight especially during mid-day (11am-3pm) for a long time can be critical for the skin barrier if you don’t wear SPF protection. It will lead to increase of sign of aging such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots and wrinkles. It is advisable to wear plenty of clothes in order to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. Use long sleeves shirts and pants is an easier option.

+ Taking a hot bath or hot shower and using strong soap and harsh detergents or harsh cleanser can contribute to reduce skin barrier function.

A few skin barrier symptoms will let you know if you have a damaged skin barrier.

+ Skin lacks elasticity

+ Dry and itchy skin

+ Getting wrinkles on the skin

+ Discoloration of skin

+ High trans-epidermal water loss that can led to dehydrated skin

+ The epidermal layer becomes thin

+ Bacterial and viral infections would be visible

How to restore skin barrier function?

The first and foremost thing to repair moisture barrier is to have a proper daily skincare routine. Excellent skin care routine with a good hydrating serum will keep your skin barrier healthy and strong.


Moisturizing the skin daily is another effective way how to heal a damaged moisture barrier. Moisturizers can help hold moisture that were present on the skin. Glycerine and lactic acids are water-based ingredients that pull the water into the skin to help reducing trans-epidermal water loss. Damp your skin before applying moisturizer to get the best absorption rate of moisture. Here are some tips on how to heal damaged skin barrier.

+ Avoid the long shower or bathing time with hot or warm water.

+ Be very gentle with your skin while soaking water from it. Pat your skin slowly with a dry towel after having a shower.

+ Do not use skincare product with harsh ingredients as it may strip the moisture from your skin.

Healthy Eating

Eating healthy is one of the most natural and effective ways to help strengthen skin barrier function. Researchers already confirm that a healthy diet containing healthy fats is reliable to keep your skin healthy and good-looking. Drinking plenty of water daily to keep you hydrated, a vital process to maintain healthiness of your skin barrier. Some good foods suggest the question of how to repair moisture barrier. Fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acid, can help improve skin barrier function and increase skin hydration after consistent use for 5 months.


Taking stress is not good for skin barrier, it makes your body release hormones like cortisol, and this gave negative impact to the epidermal barrier. Stress skin tend to have high trans-epidermal water loss ratio as the structural proteins, stratum corneum and epidermal lipids is not functioning well. High TEWL then will lead to dry skin and make you skin looks dull. If you notice, there are certain brands out there that have specific products for stress skin or known as anti-stress skincare. It’s a new trend and the main focus is to repair the impaired skin barrier function and reduce inflammation. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]