Bad news: You're now looking after your skin barrier *too* much.

Oh, come on. First, we're not doing enough, now we're doing too much... ugh. Can the skincare Gods please give us a break already?! 

For the love of ceramides, we're exhausted.

Because in case you haven't heard, experts are now saying that the more we obsess with strengthening and 'fixing' our skin barriers, the more we risk doing real harm.

And we just...

So, is this a thing? Can you actually give your skin barrier too much love and end up damaging it even more?

To find out, we spoke to cosmetic doctor Dr Yalda Jamali from All Saint Clinic and asked her if it's really possible to protect your skin barrier... too much.


So, put down the skincare products and take a seat. Here's what she had to say.

Hang on. What's your skin barrier again?

Firstly, if you don’t know what a skin barrier is, just picture it as your skin’s bodyguard. 

It’s basically the outer layer of your skin that protects it from environmental irritants. It works to keep all the bad stuff like pollution and free radicals out, and keep the good stuff like water and moisture in.

Watch: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

In a far more professional explanation, Dr Jamali explained it like this: "The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin — the stratum corneum."

"It has many functions including acting as a protective barrier against external threats, such as microbes and pollutants, helping retain moisture in the skin, defending against infections and regulating our body temperature."

She adds that these days there's a huge focus on the skin barrier in skincare, as skincare ingredients are the main culprit when it comes to impacting the outermost layers of the skin.

Why are we so obsessed with skin barriers?

Now, obviously our skincare routines look a lot different to what they did years ago. 

Like, a decade ago we were using a lot of products that were really harsh (hey, apricot scrub) and stripped our skin of natural oils and all the good stuff. 


Ten years ago, no one really knew what a moisture barrier was and tight, squeaky skin was where it was all at.

And while we’ve come a long way from this — and formulations and marketing of skincare products have changed — it doesn't necessarily mean we still do the right thing with our skin. 

Experts say there’s still a lot of opportunity to misuse products and go too hard. Especially with things like actives. 

Dr Jamali said, "We definitely understand more about our skin barrier as there’s so much more skin education readily available."

"However, there are also many active ingredients on the market these days and if we don't fully understand how to use them, we can compromise our skin barrier."

Is it possible to 'over-fix' your skin barrier?

These days there are so many new skincare brands and products out there that are marketed towards barrier support, as well as viral social media skincare trends, based on supporting your barrier. 

This means there’s more out there than ever before, and many of us are becoming more aware of the crucial importance of a healthy skin barrier and what that looks like. 

However, in saying this, it’s now easier than ever to overcomplicate your routine with a whole bunch of stuff it doesn't need.

Skincare is all about listening to your skin and not overwhelming it — because if you're consistently giving your skin too many ingredients it doesn’t need, you can end up doing more harm than good. 


For example, Dr Jamali said that while we've been taught that "using active ingredients such as PHA, AHAs and retinoids can over time strengthen our skin barrier ... using them too frequently or too many active ingredients in one session will in fact do the opposite and compromise our skin barrier."


"If this happens, often the skin feels dry, sensitive, itchy and may start to peel. It's good to give active ingredients a break and focus on using calm and soothing products to rehydrate and moisturise the skin."

That's why it's essential to pick out specific formulations for your individual skin type and concern — favouring those that are effective and gentle. Because what might work for someone else, might not work for you.

Dr Jamali suggested, "Using products with ceramides and fatty acids will support the barrier function." 

Above all, if you think you've done a number on your skin barrier, rather than using TikTok as a guide, sometimes it's best to head straight to a skin expert or dermatologist to work out what you're doing wrong.

As Dr Jamali notes, "It's important to note that environmental factors such as excessive UV exposure and smoking can also impact our skin barrier negatively."

"Pathological skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and perioral dermatitis impacts the barrier function, and it is important to seek medical advice to control these conditions."

Have you ever messed up your skin barrier? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Feature image: Getty

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