Skip to main content

Expert tips for repairing your skin’s moisture barrier

Between cold weather, a hectic lifestyle and harsh skincare routines, this protective layer can easily become compromised

By Chloe Lawrance

With cold weather, wind and rain, and an increased reliance on central heating, it's not uncommon for your skin to feel a little dryer during the winter months. If your complexion is irritated, red, perpetually dry or breaking out, you may be facing a compromised skin moisture barrier. But don't worry, with a few gentle yet nourishing products (including the Soho Skin ultra-reparative Renewal Serum) and some expert advice, it's simple to fix and maintain.

What is your skin’s moisture barrier?

'Our skin is made up of lots of different layers, and your moisture barrier is the outermost of them all,' explains Liliana Almeida Dos Santos, Lead Therapist at Shoreditch Health Club. 'Simply put, it has two main jobs: to lock in the "good stuff" (think natural oils, hydration and moisture), and keep the "bad stuff" out (environmental aggressors like sunlight, smoking and pollution that can cause irritation).'

Keeping your skin's moisture barrier function at its best helps to maintain skin health, which is the secret to a glowing, radiant complexion.

Can you damage your moisture barrier?

'The moisture barrier gets damaged when lipids (the natural fats that help our skin) are broken down,' says Almeida Dos Santos. 'In part, this is due to genetics and ageing, but there are other elements that can also affect it.'

Environmental factors, like too much humidity, very dry climates, too much sun exposure and even changes in temperature can have an impact on your moisture barrier. Similarly, lifestyle factors can cause damage to it as well, including stress, lack of sleep, diet, and alcohol consumption.

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to moisture barrier damage is harsh or irritating products, so it's important to choose them wisely. Nathan Moore, Soho Skin's Education Manager, recommends a 'consistency over intensity' approach to building a skincare routine in order to keep your moisture barrier in tip-top condition.

How can you repair your moisture barrier?

1. Go back to basics

The most important step to undo moisture barrier damage is to strip back your routine to the absolute essentials, particularly if you've had a bad reaction to a certain product or ingredient. This gives your skin time to repair and return to optimum condition. Look for a very gentle cleanser (and use it no more than twice a day), followed by hydrating essentials that will feed your moisture barrier.

'Resist the urge to reach for overly drying anti-blemish products, even if you have breakouts,' says Moore. 'These can cause further irritation and prevent your skin from being able to heal.'

2. Take it easy on the actives

Even the most careful skincare devotee can go overboard with active ingredients now and again, and if you're looking to repair your moisture barrier then taking a break from these is key.

'If barrier function is disrupted, the skin can become easily sensitised,' explains Moore. 'When this happens, aggressive actives like high-percentage acids, retinoids and vitamin C are likely to do more harm than good, so it's best to avoid them.'

If you do reintroduce these to your routine once your moisture barrier has been repaired, do so slowly and carefully. And be sure to choose carefully formulated products; the Soho Skin range uses considered ingredients - including actives - to deliver optimal performance without causing irritation.

3. Repair is essential

For Almeida Dos Santos, feeding your skin with plenty of hydration will help it to bounce back from damage. She recommends moisture-binding humectants such as glycerine sorbitol and hyaluronic acid, as well as antioxidants.

'And don't forget to use SPF,' she says. 'This should be a daily essential anyway, but your skin is even more sensitive to UV damage when your moisture barrier is compromised.'

What products should you use to repair your moisture barrier?

1. Soho Skin Renewal Serum

This antioxidant-rich serum is formulated without harsh ingredients to help repair and nourish your skin, while protecting it from the environmental aggressors that can play a part in barrier damage. Beta-glucan derived from baker's yeast and niacinamide work to support the moisture barrier function; amino acids repair, soothe and hydrate; lactococcus ferment lysate can help to improve the speed and quality of the skin's natural processes; and the unique algae-derived smart melanin modulator contributes to an overall brighter, more even skin tone.

2. Soho Skin Overnight Cream

Packed with humectant, emollient and occlusive agents that help to repair moisture barrier function, in this cream you'll find oat kernel oil - a nourishing, non-comedogenic oil that's rich in ceramides. There's also squalane, which mimics skin's natural oils, and anti-inflammatory jojoba oil.

3. Soho Skin Cream Cleanser

This non-stripping, surfactant-free formula provides a thorough yet gentle cleanse for the skin - essential when the moisture barrier is damaged. Look to squalane, which helps to gently lift away makeup, impurities and SPF as it hydrates, and natural sugars that reinforce a healthy moisture barrier.

4. Soho Skin Eye Cream

The eye area is very delicate, so it's quick to show signs of a compromised moisture barrier. A blend of oat kernel oil and squalane make this a particularly nourishing formula.