The Do's and Don’ts of Skin Barrier Repair

The biggest skincare lesson worth learning this year? Good skin health is all about a robust skin barrier. If the winter chill has gotten under your skin, you’ve exfoliated a little too enthusiastically or you’ve found yourself saying “oops I overdid my retinol” - here is how to save your skin:

What is the Skin Barrier

The Skin Barrier or Moisture Barrier (stratum corneum) is exactly that, a protective layer of your skin filled with ceramides, fatty acids, and lipids that acts as a sort of gatekeeper, keeping an eye on and controlling what goes in and what comes out. Sometimes nicknamed ‘bricks and mortar’ due to the fact that it is made up of a collection of sturdy cellular-like structures (corneocytes) and a lipid membrane representing the mortar holding it all together. 

Still need to know more? Check out Everything you need to know about the Skin Barrier


What damages the Skin Barrier

While Winter is the season for dry, red, fussy skin, skin barrier aggressors are everywhere; heating, over-washing, dehydration  or the sun or wind. But the most overwhelmingly common reason? The overuse of actives and using too many products all at once. The skin cannot handle all the products thrown at it, becomes overwhelmed, and, as a result, the barrier becomes compromised.

Retinol and the Skin Barrier

Retinol / Vitamin A is one of those hyped skincare ingredients that everyone is excited to use in the hopes that it will transform their skin. Valid excitement as retinol does indeed have many outstanding benefits. Yet often, people will get a little too excited and fall into the trap of “more is better” and jump straight into daily a layering of a new retinoid product onto ill-prepared skin. Then wonder why after a few days their skin goes into crisis mode; red, dry and irritable. Throwing their arms in the air with despair “retinol just isn’t for me”.

If this is you, or you simply have sensitive, irritated skin, read on to discover that yes, you can and will recover your skin from a compromised skin barrier. Here is how to save your skin:


  • Stop the retinol application. For now, take out all retinols, acids and active ingredients from your routine.
  • Go back to basics. Revert back to a simple, nourishing cleanser, serum, oil and/or moisturiser. 
  • Up the hydration and skin barrier-loving ingredients. Think hyaluronic acid, ceramides, niacinamide, squalane and other skin soothers.
    • Be patient. Don’t expect results overnight - skin takes time to heal.


      • Panic! While uncomfortable and irritating, it will get better!
        • Assume it is just a retinol ‘purge’. Don't just wait it out, assuming it is your skin "purging" - if it's painful and not feeling right - take action!
        • Jump right back into actives. Don’t revert back to the same active-filled routine the minute you notice improvement - re-introduce slowly and think about making slight changes to avoid future reactions.
        • But also don’t write them off completely. Just because you had one bad experience, doesn’t mean actives such as retinoids or acids aren’t for you.

          How to Save your Skin from Retinol / Exfoliant Overuse

          Then, there's only one word you need to remember: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Ceramides are your friend here, they are natural lipids produced by your body and work as fatty acids that help hydrate and strengthen your skin barrier. 

          Want the down-low on all super-star skin barrier ingredients? Read about the 9 Best Ingredients for your Skin Barrier



          The Products you Need to Repair your Skin Barrier:

          Essentials Deep Hydration Moisture Cream

          A favourite for a reason, think of this as your ultimate moisture cream. Every ingredient was thoughtfully added with clinical data and research to back it up. Deeply hydrating and full of skin barrier supporting nourishment, such as ceramides, niacinamide, allantoin and oat beta glucan. This cream is buttery soft and won’t weigh the skin down. Your perfect accompaniment to actives, to soothe dry, irritated skin or simply as your everyday hydration hero.

          Containing no fragrances or essential oils, this multifaceted moisture cream has been formulated for hydration, skin-nourishment and skin barrier fortification as the primary focus.

          Essentials Hydrating and Healing Serum

          This silky-smooth serum is your holy grail in skin barrier resilience. Specifically designed to support the skin barrier by hydrating, soothing, reducing inflammation and supporting the healing process.


          Essentials Hydrating Gel Cream

          The little sister to the Deep Hydration Moisture Cream, just a little lighter and dewier. We took what we loved about our iconic skin barrier hero and made it with less plant oils and in a gel-cream base. Perfect for those who prefer a glowy finish in their moisture cream or those with oily skin.

          Essentials Re-Activation Nourishing Facial Oil

          The Re-Activation Nourishing Facial Oil isn’t just a facial oil, it contains a unique dehydrated hyaluronic acid suspended in a fatty acid. When applied to the skin it absorbs moisture that would otherwise be escaping from deeper layers in the skin and retains it in place, creating a more hydrated, resilient, robust skin barrier.

          Essentials Bio Vitamin Oil

          The Essentials Bio Vitamin Oil goes the extra mile if you’re suffering from super dry skin or eczema. Rosehip and Jojoba Oil, Squalane and Bakuchiol as well as skin-nourishing Vitamins C & E all provide your skin with the ultimate relief from dry skin and long-lasting hydration. 

          Sensitive Skin Dermatological Facial Cleanser

          A gentle cream cleanser is an excellent choice for a simple retinol routine. Effective enough to remove debris, yet it won't strip the skin of its natural oils. Impaired complexions would benefit from the Sensitive Skin Cleanser for its calming, soothing properties.

          Sensitive Skin Miracle Relief Oil Plus

          A blend of skin-nourishing oils to replenish sensitive and impaired skin. Instantly soothing, it helps reduce redness and incidence of skin flakiness. 

          Sensitive Skin Soothing Protection Moisture Replenishing Mask

          A rich, creamy replenishing moisture mask to restore hydration and softness to all skin types. Packed with natural goodness to form a protective layer to help skin retain suppleness

          Need a routine to get your skin barrier back on track? Read The best routine for your Skin Barrier

          Blog menu

          Sign up to our newsletter to receive weekly exclusive offers and our latest news from LA CLINICA